Stagecoach urges COP26 leaders to encourage the use of public transport
Stagecoach has called on COP26 leaders to motivate people to change the way that they travel in favour of public transport in order to tackle ambitious emission reduction targets.
Credit: Stuart Nicol Photography/Stagecoach - A Stagecoach electric bus.
As attention turns to transport at the COP26 climate change summit, Stagecoach has urged leaders to put in place firm plans to motivate and incentivise people to change the way that they travel in order to meet the country’s net zero ambitions.
The UK bus and coach operator is warning that net zero ambitions cannot be achieved by technology alone (such as by replacing petrol and diesel-powered cars with electric vehicles). The fastest way to make progress is by switching where possible from making journeys by private car and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking. Stagecoach is calling on leaders to be honest with citizens that the current status quo cannot continue in simply replacing traffic jams of diesel and petrol cars with traffic jams of electric cars.
Figures published by Inrix, Inc show that congestion during 2019 cost the UK economy £6.9 billion – an average of £894 per driver – with Brits wasting an average of 115 hours in congestion. By contrast, independent research carried out prior to COVID-19 demonstrates that Stagecoach helped to save 190,000 tonnes of CO2 by people taking buses rather than using cars, equating to around £343 million a year in potential congestion-related savings1.
The Committee on Climate Change has made clear that changing technology will only deliver 38 per cent of the required reductions in emissions, which means that 62 per cent of emissions reductions will have to come from changes in how people live and travel, including by using more sustainable public transport.
Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach, said: “As the focus at COP26 today turns to transport, it’s crucial that we focus on the most important thing – incentivising people out of cars and onto public transport. This is the only way that we can quickly meet the country’s net zero ambitions. We need leaders to be honest with citizens that we cannot go on as we are now by simply replacing jams of diesel and petrol cars with jams of electric cars. Congestion is costing our economy billions of pounds each year, and that cannot be reduced by technology alone.”
“As we focus on the action plans coming out of COP26, buses will continue to play a key role in delivering on the country’s net zero ambitions and creating healthier, more connected communities. Stagecoach is investing hundreds of millions of pounds in new clean electric buses and making major changes to reduce carbon, but we need the government’s help in encouraging people to switch from cars to more sustainable public transport, cycling and walking,” he added.
Stagecoach, which recently published its new sustainability strategy (Driving Net Zero: Better Places to Live and Work), is aiming to decarbonise its business by around 70 per cent by 2035, as well as targeting a zero emission bus fleet across the UK by that date. The roadmap to becoming a fully carbon neutral business will see investment in new zero-emissions fleets, such as electric buses, and other green technologies over the next 15 years.
Investments being made by Stagecoach as part of its new sustainability strategy, including in cleaner technologies, are planned to cut the company’s annual emissions by 351,945 tonnes of CO2 by 2035, equivalent to the total annual pre-COVID-19 pandemic emissions produced by around 66,000 UK households3.
As part of the transition to net zero, Stagecoach is also taking a number of other individual steps to make its existing buses even cleaner. Around 1,000 vehicles have now been retrofitted with new engines or new exhaust systems, which mean that they have 95 per cent fewer emissions than standard buses.
In 2021, Stagecoach will be introducing 46 new fully electric buses in key transport networks across Scotland in Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Perth as part of the government’s Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme. During summer 2021, it launched six new electric buses, serving rural communities across the west of Scotland, in partnership with SP Energy Networks. Stagecoach has also made one of the biggest single investments in electric vehicles in Europe with its double-decker fleet in Manchester.
Stagecoach has recently proposed a package of policy interventions to kick-start the country’s town and city centres; boost health and wellbeing; and help to deliver stretching government targets to reach net zero by 2050. The proposals include mobility tax incentives, discounted fares and a national bus marketing campaign to match the recent advertising push to attract consumers back to trains. It has also called for wider reform of motoring taxation to encourage a shift to more sustainable bus travel, with the decarbonisation of road transport expected to have a significant impact on future tax receipts from fuel duty. Moving to a pay-per-mile form of taxation for private cars, with appropriate mitigations, would increase awareness of the true cost of motoring and support a shift to available public transport or active travel alternatives.
- Based on independent research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Source: Office for National Statistics, 2019 data.