The One Billion Challenge from Greener Journeys

Published: 15-09-2009

Britain’s biggest bus and coach operators have warned (15/09) the Government that it risks missing key carbon reduction targets by failing to maximise the potential of buses and coaches to help tackle climate change. 

The UK’s major public transport groups joined forces to unveil a blueprint to meet the challenge of climate change by aimed at taking one billion car journeys off the country’s roads. A YouGov poll for FirstGroup and Greener Journeys found that using public transport more often is seen by consumers as one of the main things they can do to help the environment second only to recycling.    

The Greener Journeys campaign launched a manifesto recommending a raft of policy initiatives to encourage modal shift that would deliver 50% more savings in transport CO2 emissions than currently planned under existing Government policies.  

In an unprecedented joint call for action, bus and coach operators will stress that technological advances alone are not enough to achieve the carbon reductions required to tackle climate change and modal shift must be a key priority. 

The manifesto, The One Billion Challenge, was launched by senior transport figures, including Sir Moir Lockhead (CEO, First Group), Brian Souter (CEO, Stagecoach Group) and Professor David Begg. It demonstrates that if people switch from car to bus or coach for just one journey in 25 it would mean one billion fewer car journeys on UK roads over the next three years. Greener Journeys is calling on the Government to:
 

  • Set targets for local authorities to encourage modal shift
  • Drive investment in low carbon buses
  • Promote bus priority, park and ride and other measures to cut car commuting
  • Encouraging bus travel to reduce “school run” traffic
  • Priority measures to promote coach travel
 
Simon Posner, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, said: “The Government cannot afford to ignore the massive potential of buses and coaches to deliver huge savings in CO2 from the transport sector, help protect our environment and oil the wheels of our economy. They run on existing infrastructure, provide real flexibility, are cost-effective and can deliver additional capacity very quickly. Government at all levels needs to act without delay to make the most of this opportunity.” 

Greener Journeys, which will be lobbying Government and other stakeholders to support the plan, is being backed by a number of influential figures. Sir Rod Eddington - author of a Government report into the long-term links between transport and the UK's economic productivity, growth and stability - said: “I welcome the Greener Journeys initiative which has the potential to play a major role in reducing CO2 emissions from transport. I urge the Government at all levels to seize the Greener Journeys initiative and work with bus and coach operators towards a greener future.”   

Environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future and former chair of the chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, said:  “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our age and we need to seize every opportunity to cut emissions.  The industry is showing real leadership with Greener Journeys, and Forum for the Future is pleased to have helped this initiative.  It shows the way forward – now it’s time for the Government to act.”  

Transport expert, Professor David Begg, said: “The Government have introduced a car scrappage scheme to boost the demand for new cars and to stimulate car manufacturing. This measure was justified on economic, employment and environmental grounds.  We urgently need a parallel scrappage scheme for bus and coach.”  

Dr Jillian Anable, Centre for Transport Research, Aberdeen University, said: “While technological solutions are important in our quest to tackle climate change we cannot achieve our targets without changing travel behaviour.  The Greener Journeys initiative offers a real opportunity to create the kind of behavioural change that will be essential to this.”   

A YouGov poll for FirstGroup Greener Journeys found that: the overwhelming majority of people see using public transport more often as one of the main things they can to help the environment.  The survey of more than 2,000 adults across the UK found:
 
  • 34% are becoming more concerned about the environment
  • Of these 69% are planning to or have already switched some of their journeys from car to bus and train 
  • 28% of people think that public transport will be used more in the future

Notes to editors


1. Greener Journeys is an initiative of the UK Bus & Coach industry aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from transport by delivering unprecedented modal shift from the car.  It is founded by the big 5 bus owning groups Arriva, First Group, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach.

2. Greener Journeys aims to take one billion car journeys off the road in just three years.  This would amount to a reduction of 2 million tonnes CO2 and would deliver an additional 50% reduction in CO2 from domestic transport to the reductions planned over the same period by current Government policies, which by 2020 will amount to 15 million tonnes CO2   (Low Carbon Transport: A Greener Future, Department for Transport, July 2009).

3. Greener Journeys has been developed with the support of the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK and Forum for the Future, and is inspired by the Prince’s May Day Network        

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