Video: Greener Journeys argues for bus investment

Research commissioned by Greener Journeys suggests investing in bus would deliver a significant boost to the economy. The organisation’s CEO, Claire Haigh, appears in a video promoting this point.

The campaign group claims the impact of months of Government urging people to avoid public transport has taken its toll on the economy. Prior to COVID-19, the bus was the main mode of access to city centres, responsible for a third of city centre expenditure. The group said bus commuters were generating £64 billion in goods and services every year.

The new research undertaken by KPMG shows that £2 billion of investment would generate 425 million additional bus journeys per year in England outside of London. Each £1 invested would generate £4.48 in wider social, economic and environmental benefits. All local authority areas in England outside of London could expect to see at least a 20% increase in patronage.

Greener Journeys is calling on Government to be more positive in its messaging and encourage the responsible use of public transport.

Bus patronage today is at just a third of pre-crisis levels. Greener Journeys stresses there is a risk of replacing one health crisis with another. It says air pollution linked to road traffic causes 40,000 early deaths a year. Diesel cars and vans produce more than two thirds of NOx emissions from transport. Furthermore, it cites recent studies that suggest a direct link between long-term exposure to air pollution and higher infection and death rates from COVID-19. The bus is central to tackling air pollution, according to the campaign group. A modern diesel bus produces fewer NOx emissions overall than a modern diesel car despite being able to carry 20 times more passengers.

Greener Journeys warns that if public transport networks suffer long term damage, there will be serious consequences. It claims a 10% decrease in public transport connectivity is associated with a 3.6% increase in social deprivation. A third of people in the UK have deliberately caught the bus to have some human contact. Rising demand for car and van travel is a key reason why carbon emissions from transport remain high. A double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road.

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, said: “The PM may have dropped the avoid public transport message, but he is still encouraging people to use alternative means of transport wherever possible. This won’t be enough to restart the economy. The fundamental role of mass transit in facilitating economic activity is as essential today as it ever was.

We need a green recovery and that will require a massive shift from private transport to public, shared and active travel. The forthcoming national bus strategy must maximise the potential of the bus to tackle pollution, reduce social deprivation and reignite the economy.”

Dawn Badminton-Capps, Bus Users Director for England, said: “The negative messaging around public transport throughout the Covid-19 crisis has encouraged people into private vehicles. This could have a devastating and lasting impact on public transport that will leave communities isolated, and see congestion and pollution in our towns and cities rise even further.

“Buses are key to the UK’s recovery and along with major new investment, we need to make sure people feel safe and confident to get back on board.”

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