AS councils across Yorkshire have recognised, we are facing a climate emergency and need to take action to combat climate change.
Last month the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), the voice of the bus and coach industry across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK, released our vision for the future.
This is a vision that puts action on climate change at the heart of the bus industry. We plan to tackle this important issue head on and work with government to make all new buses on our roads ultra-low or zero emission from 2025.
The industry already has a history of leading the way. Our efforts to improve urban air quality have resulted in investment of more than £1bn in the past five years in newer and cleaner vehicles.
Today’s diesel buses carry up to 75 passengers and create less air pollution than a modern diesel car. We have been adopting these vehicles at a faster rate than any other transport sector.
To achieve our goal of all new buses being ultra-low or zero emission from the middle of the next decade, we need the Government to support us with the additional cost of buying low or zero emission vehicles, which are currently around double the price of a new diesel bus, and help facilitate the necessary changes in the nation’s infrastructure.
This will be a major contribution to tacking the UK’s emissions targets and achieving net zero ambitions by cutting half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year from 2030.
But we can push this even further by attracting people to use the bus a little more and their cars a little less.
If everyone switched just one car journey a month to bus, there would be a billion fewer car journeys and a saving of two million tonnes of CO2 a year.
Research from the Government’s passenger watchdog, Transport Focus, tells us that one in four people who don’t use the bus at the moment would happily give it a try. This puts tens of millions of extra journeys within reach.
The key to unlocking that potential is faster, more reliable journey times. The number one reason people don’t use the bus is simply that, on many routes, it takes too long to get from A to B.
We can fix that by working in partnership with councils across the region. In Leeds, for example, bus companies are working hand-in-hand with the Combined Authority and City Council, investing in cleaner, new buses as the council invests in bus priority measures through the Connecting Leeds Programme.
Passengers gain twice over – better buses, quicker journeys. No wonder we’re already starting to see passenger numbers growing in parts of the city, bucking the national trend. There are more than 300 million bus journeys in Yorkshire every year.
Buses account for more than two in every three journeys made by Yorkshire residents. And these are crucial journeys, getting people to school, to work, to the shops and contributing billions of pounds to the Yorkshire economy.
These figures are impressive but even better bus services are the key to shifting travel habits and growing the significant economic contribution the industry makes.
We’ll continue to invest in new buses with better facilities and simpler ticketing. We can achieve even more where local authorities work with us to cut congestion in towns and cities and identify new ways of delivering transport services that work for more isolated communities.
The bus has an exciting future. Customers will see better buses, improved bus services and competitive, easy to understand fares. New ultra-low or zero emission buses will help us lead the charge against climate change.
“I urge everyone to do their bit too and think about journeys where they might use the bus for a change and leave the car at home.
Graham Vidler is chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport.