Regional city transport authorities are urging the UK government to give them the legal right to impose penalties on fleets and domestic road users and mitigate the effect idling has on road congestion and air pollution.

The Urban Transport Group, which comprises the UK’s seven biggest urban transport authorities – Transport for London, Transport for West Midlands, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Nexus, Merseytravel, Transport for Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive – is seeking five practical policy changes to support officers in fostering and executing air quality plans.

The primary change is the implementation of Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. This would give local authorities the ability to enforce moving traffic offences, cutting the amount of idling that causes unnecessary congestion and toxic air in built-up areas.

Presently, local authorities do not have permission to penalise fleet and domestic drivers between £20-£80 for idling and poor stop-start conditions, unless they have ignored an initial warning and are stationary for at least an additional minute.

A few months ago, the leader of Westminster City Council led the calls for “four-figure fines” to be dished out to fleet drivers who leave their engines running in the heart of London while parked.

Four other key policy changes were discussed in the Urban Transport Group’s letter to the government-led Join Air Quality Unit:

• Highways England and Network Rail should outline clearer strategies for meeting their responsibilities in terms of air pollution in urban areas.

• A new long-term plan and funding support for a greener bus fleet as opposed to ad-hoc funding.

• A new long-term plan and funding support for a greener fleet of public service vehicles (e.g. ambulances, recycling trucks and van fleets).

• Encourage the NHS to consult more closely with transport authorities on healthcare locations to minimise the negative impact on health, environment and local communities.

Jonathan Bray, director, Urban Transport Group, said: “City region transport authorities are working hard to improve air quality on tight timescales and on tight budgets.

“If we are to hit these targets, we need the government to work more closely with us to crack some of the practical obstacles that stand in our way.

“We believe that by making these relatively straightforward and common-sense policy changes, government can provide vital assistance to those who are working at the sharp end of our efforts to reduce toxic emissions from urban transport as rapidly as possible.

“Our operational asks also complement the higher-level strategic asks around funding and fiscal measures which are being pursued at the political level by city region leaders.”