Transport operator, Stagecoach, today called for tougher action on air quality in Greater Manchester as the company launched its annual Green Week campaign.
As concern grows over increasing pollution in the region, Stagecoach has said urgent action is needed by central and local government to tackle the public health emergency.
Research shows that too many cars and worsening traffic congestion is a major contributor to the 1,000 premature deaths per year in Greater Manchester from air pollution. The problem is linked to cancer, asthma, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dementia, with children, the elderly, and the poorest in society are most at risk. The issue also has a financial cost to the country of over £20billion a year.
To tackle the problem, Stagecoach is calling for:
- continued investment by public transport operators in cleaner vehicle technologies
- 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
- clearer promotion of switching from cars to public transport as the most effective route to tackling the twin scourges of urban congestion and air pollution
- targeted public investment in bus priority measures and better transport interchanges
Detailed research by Prof David Begg for Greener Journeys has highlighted that across the country the congestion crisis is turning people away from bus travel and putting jobs in the industry and wider economy at risk.
Other research too has shown recently that Britain’s roads are now the most congested in Europe and that time wasted in the UK’s worst traffic jams will cost motorists £62billion by 2025.
One full double decker bus can remove up to 75 cars from the road – thus freeing up road space, reducing overall emissions levels and helping to improve air quality.
But in order to achieve the kind of reliability and journey times that make buses more attractive to potential customers, operators urgently need input from Greater Manchester authorities to free up road space for buses, to deliver bus priority measures and to implement bus friendly policies.
The company’s ninth annual Green Week – with the theme ‘Delivering Solutions’ - begins on World Environment Day - Monday 5 June – which is a widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action when people from all walks of life can come together to ensure a cleaner, greener outlook for future generations.
Stagecoach Manchester Managing Director, Elisabeth Tasker, said: “Public transport has a crucial role to play in helping Greater Manchester tackle traffic congestion, pollution and poor air quality issues that harm our region. We urgently need our politicians to take tough action on congestion to free up road space and let buses flourish.
“Our commitment to our environmental responsibility is central to our business and we are continuing to take steps to reduce our carbon footprint as well as working more widely with our partners to protect our environment. Green Week is a good chance for us to highlight our key messages around this but our work to tackle the challenge of climate change is something that goes on all year round.”
Stagecoach Group is mid-way through a five-year environmental strategy, Shared responsibility, shared future, which has been produced in partnership with the Carbon Trust and sets out a package of investments at the Group’s bus and rail businesses.
It follows a 30% reduction in the Group’s carbon intensity since 2007-08 and the achievement of previous targets 12 months ahead of schedule.
By April 2019, Stagecoach aims to further reduce carbon emissions from buildings and fleet, cut water consumption and improve its waste recycling rate.
Stagecoach Group has already been awarded the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard for measuring, managing and reducing its global carbon footprint, becoming the first public transport operator to have its boundaries certified outside of Europe.