Transport is by far the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. It’s estimated to be responsible for 27% of emissions in 2019, a large part of that coming from cars. Shifting behaviours away from using our cars for every journey is one of the most significant ways we can help mitigate climate change.
We know alternatives to cars are abundant and varied but this challenge for sustainable and accessible transport is about much more than cars and asking people to drive less. If we want to change the way people and communities engage with transport, our focus needs to start with building an alternative solution.
It’s time for us to start thinking about a new model, where new infrastructure and new innovative solutions make green and public transport modes more appealing, more convenient, more affordable and accessible.
Sustainable transport is not always inclusive
At first glance, transport such as trains, busses and bicycles seem like a great option for supporting a move away from cars and the direct impact of individual vehicles on the wider climate conversation. But really, these services often create poor experiences for residents because of:
route coverage: Bus connections between different areas can be difficult to navigate, requiring multiple transfers and coverage can be particularly poor in low-income towns, rural areas or areas with recent population or job growth
reliability: Some transport is generally less reliable at certain times of day; rush hour delays add significant time onto journeys which can be a big concern for many workers
cost: Analysis by the Guardian of a snapshot of five-mile bus trips in local authorities across England found that while a single bus ticket in London costs £1.55, passengers elsewhere often pay more despite for a lesser service, and for long-distance journeys, the cost of rail travel is even more restrictive
last mile transport: When the distance between home and the closest bus stop or train station is more than 400m, research shows that willingness to use public transport decreases.
lack of infrastructure: Limited EV charging coverage turns long trips into stressful situations. Limited cycle lanes turn everyday bike rides into risky journeys, not to mention the different office needs for workers wearing suitable clothing by way of changing rooms, showers, etc.