Buses key to solving perfect storm of carbon, congestion and capacity

Greener Journeys
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  • National Infrastructure Commission calls for urgent solutions to cater for population growth
  • Buses are only major form of transport with no long-term investment strategy

Buses are Britain’s most neglected form of transport and must be taken seriously if Britain is to avoid crises of carbon, congestion and capacity on its roads, campaigners warn today.

The National Infrastructure Commission’s interim report highlighted the need for urgent solutions to the major strain placed by population growth on infrastructure such as housing and transport.

But attempts to resolve this “perfect storm” of issues is being undermined by the failure of Government to recognise the impact of the bus in reducing congestion and emissions and addressing our major infrastructure challenges, according to Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, the sustainable transport group.

Despite carrying more passengers than all other forms of public transport combined, the bus remains the only major form of transport with no long-term investment strategy.

Speaking at the UK Transport Infrastructure Summit on Wednesday, Mrs Haigh will say this is a “serious omission” and a shift in mindset is needed if Government is to prevent Britain’s roads coming to a standstill and carbon emissions spiralling out of control.

“The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has been clear that none of the major challenges we face will be addressed by perpetuating the status quo,” she will say.

“We need a shift in mindset and a long-term bus investment strategy. We have long-term investment strategies for road, rail, walking and cycling, but nothing for bus. This is a serious omission.

“If we are going to address the serious infrastructure challenges we face, we need a shift in mindset and some radical solutions. A long-term bus investment strategy would be an excellent first step.”

A transition from car to bus use is crucial to meeting carbon reduction targets and tackling congestion, which are worsening as population growth increases.

More than 40% of new buses sold last year were low carbon emission buses, and a fully loaded double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road.  If everyone switched just one car journey a month from car to bus it would save 2 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

New research by KPMG for Greener Journeys published today also demonstrates that planning and investment in local bus networks is key to unlocking the value of housing investment.

New developments in urban centres can stimulate 50% more economic growth than similar developments at the fringe, but these benefits are at risk if traffic congestion can’t be controlled.

Local population growth arising from new developments will inevitably place a major strain on local transport networks and unless we provide more public transport options alongside new housing, we risk bringing local roads to a standstill, the report found.

Investment in sustainable transport must be a high priority for the £5bn Housing Infrastructure Fund, and the Government must change the way it measures “value for money” from different infrastructure schemes to take the wider economic, social and environmental impacts of investment into account, it said. 

For further information 

Greener Journeys Press Office
press@greenerjourneys.com or +44 (0)20 3128 8555 

About Greener Journeys

Greener Journeys is a campaign dedicated to encouraging people to make more sustainable travel choices. It is a coalition of the UK’s leading public transport organizations, user groups and supporters.  It aims to reduce CO2 emissions from transport by encouraging people to switch some of their car journeys to bus or coach instead. Switching from car to bus for just one journey a month would mean one billion fewer car journeys on our roads and would save 2 million tonnes of CO2 every year.  For more information visit www.greenerjourneys.com.

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