Transport User Voice – October 2019 – Chief executive’s editorial

30 September 2019

Green to go? A manifesto?

Climate change debates are giving governments and us citizen/consumers lots to think about. But what to do? ‘Think global, act local…’ was the old slogan – does that still hold?

Governments of all shapes, varieties and locations must continue to enable and support those transport initiatives that we know from our extensive transport user research underpins satisfaction and choice.

An emphasis on measures to improve bus reliability, such as bus priority measures, will help keep current passengers satisfied and attract more passengers to bus. Making buses more reliable also keeps operating costs down, which in turn makes services more financially viable. A bus that isn’t stuck in traffic creates less pollution. Ensuring that bus services operate at more times when people need them – later in the day and at weekends – will also help ensure buses can be an effective, sustained choice.

Rail passengers’ satisfaction mirrors reliable, on time performance. Continued government focus and investment in reliability, frequency and capacity (on trains for passengers and on track for more trains) will nudge more people into choosing rail. Bearing down on the rail industry’s value for money should feed through into less pressure for continued fare rises which will make rail value for passengers as well. Fares reform, to make rail an informed, comprehensible choice will also be important.

Road users also need and want reliable networks. So, continued investment in capacity and information will help make roads safer, more reliable and allow smoother journeys – all good for users and the environment.

We, as individuals, bear responsibility for our choices. What governments also need to do is help us citizen/consumers to make more sustainable transport choices. We all make our transport choices around the four ‘C’s’ – choice, cost, convenience and control. We make different choices at different times. The fifth ‘C’ – climate – is perhaps starting to stir, from a very low base, into being a factor in choice.

Compelling change is politically unfashionable so nudging us into other choices is the way. But those choices must also represent good consumer decisions. If the quality of your transport mode is poor and you feel you have little choice then resentment simmers. Choice is good. A good choice is even better.

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