July 15 2020

Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users, writes for CPT about how buses are part of the solution to help clean up our air, free up our roads, and encourage people out of privately-owned cars.

There’s a lot of work to do before we can hope to meet our decarbonisation targets and make some impact on the looming disaster of global warming.

The negative messages around public transport we’ve seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic continue to set back the cause, despite there being no evidence to support the fears. We have been fighting for a change in the tone of this messaging and while we are confident that change is coming, the fear and confusion that has already been created will take much longer to dissipate.

We cannot wait for government to change their tone and for a vaccine to be widely available to encourage people back on the bus. We need to be doing that now, across the board.

Even the most die-hard motoring enthusiast can’t fail to have noticed how much cleaner and clearer the air has been during the early part of lockdown, and city-dwellers will undoubtedly have been breathing more easily during their daily walk or cycle. We need to use that cleaner, greener argument to bring people back on board, allying the bus to sustainable travel arguments.  

Young people in particular care deeply about the environment but they’re not alone. Many adults are choosing veganism as a way of life for environmental reasons, as well as the health arguments – over 2% of Brits are now vegan, including 10% of children. We need to harness this enthusiasm and bang the drum for saving the world though sustainable transport choices.

For far too long, transport providers were seen as the enemy of so-called active travel organisations, with buses and trains lumped into the same category as private cars. That is now changing. Bus Users is part of a Sustainable Transport Group which includes public/shared transport groups alongside environmental, walking and cycling campaign groups. The aim is to help community groups and local authorities work together to change the travel landscape where they live.

Across the country, the appetite for integrated travel hubs and sustainable travel planning is growing apace. Bus operators need to seize the opportunity and encourage this movement, in order to be a key partner and provider into the future.

Partnership working must be central to transport management if we are to get people out of privately-owned cars, free up our roads and improve our air. The bus should be a key player in this brand new game.

About Bus Users

Bus Users is a registered charity that campaigns for accessible, inclusive transport.

We are an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Body for bus and coach passengers and the body which deals with complaints under the European Passenger Rights Regulation (outside London).

You can follow Bus Users on Twitter @BusUsersUK