The ministry drew its conclusions after examining the 2014 emissions of the heavy vehicle companies across the nation.
The Dan and Egged bus fleets cause the most air pollution in the country’s heavy-vehicle sector, a study by the Environmental Protection Ministry, which examined the 2014 emissions of heavy-vehicle companies across the nation, revealed on Wednesday.

With 1,296 and 2,722 heavy vehicles, respectively, the two bus companies have the largest such fleets in Israel. The average particle emissions of individual buses in these fleets are about 0.08 grams per kilometer, twice that of other public transportation companies, such as Nativ Express or Kavim, the ministry said.

After Dan and Egged on the list, is the municipality of Tel Aviv, which operates a fleet of about 118 trucks, mostly used for garbage collection, according to ministry data. These trucks, on average, emitted around 0.06 gram of particles per kilometer, as opposed to the 141 of Jerusalem, which emitted half as much.

The Environmental Protection Ministry is requiring that all heavy-vehicle fleets reduce their average particle emissions to 0.03 gram per kilometer by January 2018, the ministry said.

Fleets of trucks and buses that include mainly new vehicles typically already are achieving this target, as opposed to those with older vehicles.

“Obsolete vehicle fleets, including those of major public- transportation companies, will be required to invest and act to reduce pollution to meet the emission target value and do so by equipping themselves with alternative propulsion mechanisms such as natural gas or electric ignition, and by means of installing particle filters in existing diesel vehicles,” the ministry statement said.

Citing OECD assessments, the Environment Ministry stressed that air pollution leads to 2,500 deaths in Israel each year.

Heavy vehicles equipped with diesel engines are characterized by increased emissions of respirable particles and nitrogen oxides and are one of the leading factors in air quality irregularities, the ministry said.

In response to the report, a spokesman for Dan defended the company, stressing that it has reduced its fleet’s emissions by more than 75 percent over the past decade.

“This is despite the fact that the Dan company has served the public 70 years, works in Gush Dan, an environment in which travel efficiency is low and the emissions are high as a result, and operates a large bus fleet – unique and different from the other companies to which it has been compared,” the spokesman said.

The improvements made over the years have resulted from constant equipment procurement, fleet management and maintenance, which lead the company to upgrade about 8% of its vehicles every year, the spokesman explained.

In addition, he said, Dan serves as a technology incubator for Israeli buses and was the first to receive new models, including gas-powered, electric and hybrid systems.

“All of this, many years before other entities in the industry woke up to the existence of environmental opportunity,” the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Egged, meanwhile, said, “Egged is the oldest company, with the largest fleet in Israel, and therefore there is no place to compare it to other public transportation companies that have existed for a few years.”

Average emissions in a fleet of buses is directly correlated to the lifespan of those buses, the Egged spokesman said, adding that because funding for purchases of its buses mostly comes from the government, Egged cannot control the pace of procurement of new buses.

Most buses operate for about 15 years, so the Egged bus fleet still contains buses that are only up to Euro 2 standards, while others have just Euro 4 and higher, he explained.

“In contrast, for other transport operators the lifespan of the buses is much shorter, approximately eight years, as derived from contract demands for the operation of clusters of service lines,” the Egged spokesman said.

Inter-city buses that do not meet current standards are expected to be upgraded in the net two years with the “massive purchase” of some 2,000 new Euro 5 and Euro 6 models, the Egged spokesman said.

“These actions will substantially and immediately reduce the average emissions of Egged as required by the Environmental Protection Ministry,” the spokesman added.

Nativ Express, one of the bus companies that fared significantly better than Dan and Egged – an average of 0.03 gram of particle emissions per kilometer among its 476 vehicles – praised the ministry for conducting the inspections.

The company is currently acquiring Euro 6 buses to add to its fleet, a spokeswoman for the company said.

“Throughout the years, we have been making great efforts to improve the quality of service we provide to our passengers in all areas – welfare, safety and, of course, in environmental protection,” she said.

As far as Tel Aviv’s truck emissions are concerned, a spokeswoman for the municipality explained that the city is in the process of renewing its fleet, indicating that in 2014, the municipality purchased 10 trucks with Euro 6 diesel emissions standards, and has budgeted for the purchased of 11 more for 2015.

By the end of 2016, 70% of Tel Aviv’s municipal vehicles will meet the highest criteria on emissions, abiding by Euro 4 standards and higher, the spokeswoman added.

“It is worth noting that the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa has a five-year program of continuous renewal of its truck fleet, and is promoting, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Ministry, everything with regards to clean air,” a statement from the city said.