July 22 2021

In our second Net Zero Week blog CPT’s Policy Manager Rebecca Kite writes about the role of bus and coach in the journey to net zero emissions.

With cars and taxis contributing 55% of transport’s greenhouse gas emissions we need urgent action to reduce the number of car journeys if we want to be on track to deliver net zero by 2050. Net Zero Week has been an opportunity for the bus and coach industry to highlight the role it can play in reaching the UK’s net zero goals, with a change in travel behaviour being key.

Last week the government published their Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which they described as the world’s first ‘greenprint’ to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050. It is really promising that the plan recognises the need to accelerate modal shift, getting people out of their cars and onto public transport; just 6 more bus journeys a year by everyone is equal to the entire bus fleet transitioning to zero emissions and a 15% increase in coach journeys by British people each year could save over a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

An important part of the journey to net zero is making sure we avoid just focusing on decarbonising the bus and coach fleets alone, which will make little difference if there aren’t any passengers travelling by bus and coach. Instead, we must see action from government that places bus and coach at the heart of transport planning, to make journeys quicker and more reliable and, ultimately, encourage greater use.  Prioritising getting people out of their cars and onto buses and coaches will have an immediate impact on reducing carbon emissions.

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan recognised that the coach industry faces different challenges to decarbonisation from the bus industry, and it was positive to read that government want to understand these barriers and identify opportunities to provide support. Coaches are already a sustainable travel option, but by transitioning the coach fleet to zero emission alternatives we can make them even greener, saving around 56,000 tonnes of carbon over the next decade. This is why CPT has been calling for government to set out a clear and realistic roadmap for decarbonisation of the bus and coach fleets and to recognise the need for ongoing government investment.

The Committee on Climate Change forecasts that by 2030 we need to see around one in 10 car journeys taken by bus instead. The bus and coach industry stands ready to play its part in the journey to net zero, now is the time for government to work with the industry and deliver on the commitments set out in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.