My message to delegates at the Energy Management Exhibition this week was that on almost every measure, public transport is better for the environment than private car travel. Yet with only 5% of all journeys being made by public transport, we still have a long way to go before we see a genuine shift towards more environmentally friendly travel.
Transport operators of course have a major part to play in this agenda. Even seemingly small changes can make a big difference. Encouraging a smoother driving style amongst bus drivers can reduce fuel consumption by up to 8%, with a subsequent reduction in emissions.
Improving the frequency of services on busy urban and inter-urban routes, as well as looking at creative ways – like demand responsive transport bus services – for rural and suburban areas, should be part of the mix in getting people out of their cars and onto public transport.
For this vision to become a reality, we need a genuine commitment from local and national leaders to sustainable travel, ensuring policy and commissioning frameworks both encourage the transition to zero-emission fleets and crucially, encourage uptake of public transport.
By increasing the availability of shared transport, and making it as convenient to use as possible, we can start to turn the dial away from non-essential private car travel to more sustainable modes.