Stagecoach North East has launched its ninth annual Green Week programme with a series of activities at its six depots across the north east region.
The company, which operates bus services across Newcastle, Sunderland, South Shields, Hartlepool and Teesside will be undertaking a number of ‘green’ activities from 5 - 9 June as part of the company’s annual campaign.
During the week-long programme of activities, Stagecoach North East will encourage employees at its depots, and passengers throughout the region, to further raise awareness of environmental issues.
Staff will be leaving the car at home for the week and walking or cycling to work and taking part in the Big Switch Off to reduce energy usage. Green-fingered team members will also be developing their ‘green’ space outside the depot building, which staff enjoy during the warmer months, with raised plant beds and colourful flowers ready to be planted.
Staff will also take part in a driving competition to see which driver has the lowest engine idling score out of the whole depot. Assisted by the Eco Driver system installed across all buses, which measures fuel efficient driving, employees will compete to turn in the lowest amount of engine idling time during the campaign by switching off the bus engine when stationary for three minutes or more.
Out in the community, members of the Stagecoach team will be visiting schools to promote the green energy message. The bus firm’s Eco Champions will talk to pupils about how environmentally friendly modern buses now are, facts about the environment and what they can do to help, with pupils also receiving recycled goody bags as part of the visit.
Schools in the area have also been sent activity sheets to complete during Green Week. The company is encouraging the young ‘eco warriors’ with a list of tasks; including describing and drawing a ‘green’ activity they have done during the week, and an ‘eco’ word search.
To end the week of energy saving and environmentally friendly promotions and activities, the company is offering fruity snacks to all staff for ‘Fruity Friday’, so they can enjoy a healthy treat throughout the day.
Steve Walker, Stagecoach North East Managing Director, said: “We hope that during this year’s Green Week, our customers and staff across Newcastle can assist by giving their views and suggestions on how we can work together to protect our planet for future generations.
“Public transport has a crucial role to play in helping the north east beat the scourge of traffic congestion, pollution and poor air quality. 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.”
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.
Nationally Stagecoach Group has called for tougher action on air quality to protect local communities across Britain. As global concern grows over increasing pollution in towns and cities, the company said urgent action was particularly 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 40,000 to 50,000 early deaths a year in the UK 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 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 deck 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 politicians and local authorities to free up road space for buses, to deliver bus priority measures and to implement bus friendly policies.