Stagecoach has this week launched its ninth annual Green Week campaign to raise awareness of air quality concerns. This year’s theme is ‘Delivering Solutions’ and it started on 5 June, which is World Environment Day. The company said urgent action is particularly needed by central and local government to tackle what it describes as the public health emergency. It cites research which has shown that too many cars and worsening traffic congestion is a major contributor to the 40,000 to 50,000 early deaths a year in the UK from air pollution. The issue also has a financial cost to the country of over £20bn a year, according to the operator. Stagecoach mentioned research by Prof. David Begg for Greener Journeys, which highlighted that across the country, congestion is turning people away from bus travel and putting jobs in the industry and wider economy at risk.
To tackle the problem, Stagecoach is calling for continued investment by public transport operators in cleaner vehicle technologies. It wants to see tougher tax regimes and use of clean air zones to target vehicles and journeys which contribute most to pollution on a per-passenger basis. Focused taxpayer support where it will deliver the best value environmental benefit is needed, it claims. The most effective route to tackling the ‘twin scourges’ of urban congestion and air pollution is clearer promotion of switching from cars to public transport, according to the operator. Targeted public investment in bus priority measures and better transport interchanges are also being sought.
Stagecoach’s operating regions throughout the country are to raise awareness of Green Week’s message, carrying out different activities. For instance, Stagecoach Yorkshire aims to further raise awareness of environmental issues amongst staff by producing media showing how energy can be conserved and the effects that wastage has on the environment, as well as a Green Week paper amnesty. Stagecoach East Midlands aims to further raise awareness of environmental issues among staff and passengers through a series of events. These include a Twitter Quiz, an Awareness Event at Lincoln Cornhill, a Meet the Manager at Lincoln and Worksop bus stations, an opportunity to Tweet the Director and a staff Greenroad competition.
Stagecoach Group is midway through a five year environmental strategy, ‘Shared responsibility, shared future’, which has been produced in partnership with the Carbon Trust. It sets out a package of investments at the Group’s bus and rail businesses. By April 2019, the operator aims to further reduce carbon emissions from buildings and fleet, cut water consumption and improve its waste recycling rate.
Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said, ‘Public transport has a crucial role to play in helping Britain beat the scourge of traffic congestion, pollution and poor air quality. Our cities are clogged with cars and people are literally dying as a result and we urgently need our politicians to take tough action on congestion to free up road space and let buses flourish.’