Using a roof-mounted filtration system, a Bluestar bus in Southampton, UK, is now cleaning the air as it drives. The bus, operated by Go-Ahead Group, is fitted with a air filter that representatives of the company say will capture fine particles as it moves. After being ‘cleaned’, the air is blown out of the back of the bus, making the air behind the bus cleaner than that in front of it. This prototype is part of Southampton’s response to the World Health Organization’s warning that the city is “at its limit of unsafe air pollution”.
Bluestar’s single air-filtering bus prototype will have very little effect on the municipality's air quality at large, but for obvious reasons the idea of cars and busses ridding the air of harmful particulates is alluring. The question is, from a holistic perspective, does this roof mounted air filter represent a bonafide pollution solution if mounted to every bus? Alternatively, could resources funnelled into the filtration systems have greater impact if applied elsewhere, such as pollution source reduction? Furthermore, could this prototype be an attractive stopgap instead of a long-term remedy to the pernicious effects of pollution?