Transport User Voice – October 2021 – Chief executive’s editorial

28 September 2021

Public transport and the journey to sustainability

“It can be hard to behave ‘sustainably’ because I am used to travelling by air and car and it’s hard to commit to sacrificing this. It’s really hard to not act selfishly- especially when it feels that my personal contribution isn’t making any difference at all.”

This quote sums up the mood from our recent work on consumers, transport and sustainability. People want to do the right thing but find it hard to visualise what they can do that will make a real difference as others continue to pollute. Understandably, we are very attached to the convenience that car travel offers.

Big set piece inter-government events like the upcoming COP26 conference are needed to secure agreement on global carbon emission reductions. However, much of the gains will be made in millions of small, local steps. So how can Transport Focus help?

The Government’s recent Transport decarbonisation plan provides a good umbrella for a whole range of activities. Similar aspirations have been set out by the Welsh and Scottish governments. The plans didn’t provide everything everyone wanted. But they represent a strong set of intentions and planned actions. The emphasis on active and public transport as well as long-term commitments on fare levels are welcome.

We are heavily engaged in the rail reform process. This should in time produce a railway that is better value for money for both the passenger and taxpayer.

In our latest rail passenger research we spoke to people who used to be regular commuters by rail, but whose jobs could be done without going to their place of work. The number that commute five days a week has significantly declined from 42 per cent before the pandemic to just six per cent. The traditional five days a week commute looks unlikely to return any time soon!

The National Bus Strategy is leading to many local debates as Bus Service Improvement Plans are drawn up. Again, we are helping out – currently we’re talking to 69 out of 77 local authority areas so almost 90 per cent. This covers about 95 per cent of bus passenger journeys made in England, outside London. All this work is being used in Scotland, Wales and London as well. We are doing our bit to make public transport a more attractive choice for more people.

Our pilot survey on the experience of electric vehicle recharging on the Strategic Road Network will soon be starting. This approach will help drive up the availability and standards of recharging facilities.

This is only part of our work on behalf of transport users. There is much to do and more to come. The clock is ticking and we need to get on.

In the meantime, the search for a new chair continues. This is a great opportunity. The deadline is 4 October 2021. Take a look here for more details.

It’s an exciting and challenging time for transport users, the transport industry and governments. Come and be part of the solution!


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