A DETAILED emissions study focusing on Oxford Bus Company buses could lead to new road layouts.

The bus company is working with the Oxford University and Oxford City Council to conduct a detailed emissions study on buses across the city.

A team of experts from the university’s Engineering Science department are measuring NOx – nitrogen oxide - emissions on buses on key routes in the city.

These include the City5 service to Blackbird Leys, the X3, which run between Oxford and Abingdon and the 13 which serves the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Using highly accurate Global Positioning Systems technology, the emissions measurements can identify exactly where NOx is emitted to within 30cm.

Changes resulting from the study could include improved road layouts, revised traffic calming, and other measures to avoid buses idling longer than is necessary in one place.

The study comes as the city council, along with Oxfordshire County Council, move forward with plans for a Zero Emission Zone. It wants to ban petrol and diesel cars from certain parts of the city from as early as 2020, moving to the whole city centre by 2035.

Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall said: “The (Zero Emission Zone) proposals are great in principle, if the technology, battery capacity and vehicle range is ready for vehicles to sufficiently switch to electric within two years.

“Over half of our buses are powered by hybrid technology.

“We have collaborated with Oxford University to really establish where the pollution hotspots are in key areas and what measures can be utilised to reduce them in conjunction with and in addition to the Zero Emission Zone.

“We believe this forensic analysis will be of great benefit to key stakeholders in shaping the future of the city.”

Experts have started the study on Euro 5 hybrid buses operating on the X3 and 13 routes.

The routes include High Street and St Aldate’s in the city centre, St Clements, and the A34.

A Euro 6 vehicle on the City5 service will also be measured, taking in the Cowley Road, Cowley Centre and Blackbird Leys.

NOx emissions are a well-known pollutant which is harmful to human health.

NOx levels in Oxford vary, with some areas of the centre experiencing illegally high levels.

Dr Felix Leach, Research Fellow and Tutor in Engineering Science at Oxford University said: “The understanding gained from this data will enable the development of more effective operating strategies for NOx reduction.”

Tom Hayes, city council executive member for safer and greener environment, said: “Every move we make to clean up our toxic and illegal air has to be led by the evidence. The results will inform what kind of Zero Emission Zone we kickstart in 2020.”