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Sustainability – what next?

15 November 2021

Following on from my previous blog, I’d like to share a bit more about what Transport Focus is doing and planning.

How can we be relevant, useful and make a difference? More insight work will form part of this for sure. Plus we need to keep helping more people choose bus, rail and other more sustainable transport modes. We need to speed up the take-up of electric vehicles by doing and continuing to do our forthcoming benchmarking survey on the experience of charging. Perhaps with the freight sector?

The more I think and read about this the more I realise the key may be both giving people a viable alternative to buying a car and improving public transport. Once you have bought a car you will use it where you can. So, how could we test the experience of living without a car? Can we help demonstrate that it is not as impossible as people might first think?

Engaging with the issues

A while ago, I realised I needed more information, knowledge and exposure to some of the green debates going on. So I started talking to people in the transport world. Among them was Claire Haigh and her Green Transport Solutions initiative.

As ex-CEO of Greener Journeys, Claire wanted to keep working and campaigning on green transport issues. So, Greener Transport Solutions was born. She convened a group of interested, engaged folk to help governments focus on the things that will make a difference to users and the environment by developing a manifesto. I was invited to join her council to add the consumer view.

We eventually agreed on the problem, the language and tone to use, the priorities and what should be included in the Manifesto. The ‘Manifesto’ was born in advance of COP26.

I learned a huge amount and listened to this great group of people. Quite a privilege I hope the initiative continues in some form.

Last week I was privileged to join some forward thinkers at a COP26 session run by economic consultancy Oxera. Other attendees included Department for Transport permanent secretary Bernadette Kelly and former Snap Coaches founder (now at Transport for London) Thomas Ableman. I was pleased to hear how our work on sustainability had become required reading. We discussed the step change in attitudes to climate change, and looked at transport in the wider context. Home heating prices may well loom as large as rail season ticket costs for those deciding whether to go into the office soon!

My colleague Robert, our stakeholder manager for Scotland, was at the Decarbon8 COP26 event Real Zero in a Hurry. He tells us that the key takeaways were on the need for properly joined up regional and national delivery of transport – and potentially more ‘stick’ than ‘carrot’ to drive behavioural change.

Lots going on and lots yet to learn. I’m interested to know – what do you think? Drop me an email or tweet me @anthonysmithTF.

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