TfL bus advert scrapped after claims it was ‘misleading’

The U-turn was prompted by a question from a London Assembly member, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

The bus advert and (inset) Emma Best AM
The bus advert and (inset) Emma Best AM

A wraparound bus advert has been scrapped and replaced following claims it was “misleading” Londoners.

The advert was designed to tell the public how environmentally-friendly the capital’s bus fleet is, but was removed by Transport for London (TfL) after a City Hall politician raised concerns.

The wraparound graphic stated that all of London’s buses are either “low or zero-emission at the tailpipe”, with the words “zero-emission” used in a significantly larger font.

It led Conservative London Assembly member Emma Best to ask mayor Sadiq Khan about it in a written question to him in December 2022. She asked him: “Given that the bus fleet are all low emission but only about 10% are zero-emission, is this false advertisement, and should the font sizes be reversed?”

As of April 2023, a response to Emma’s question had still not been issued, but TfL appear to have decided to replaced the advert. In an email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a senior City Hall transport official wrote on 6th April: “Regarding the bus wrap, all buses in the London fleet are either low or zero-emission, so the wording used on the bus wrap is correct.

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“However, TfL made the decision to update the wording of the advertising for greener buses, which now features the line ‘all our buses are low or zero-emission’ in the same font size.

“The bus wrap that you refer to was due to run until late March, and if not already replaced will be replaced shortly once the advertising space has been sold to a commercial advertiser.”

Writing on Twitter this week, Emma said: “I’ve been questioning the below ad with the mayor’s team and am pleased to hear this misleading bus wrap is being pulled but it is again another case of the mayor wasting Londoners’ money.”

TfL was approached for comment, but had not provided a statement at the time of publication.

According to TfL’s website, “more than 800 zero-emission buses” operate in the city’s total fleet of “around 9,000” buses. TfL is aiming to ensure that all of its buses are zero-emission at some point between 2030 and 2034, depending on funding available.

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