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01 Jun 2017
Transport operator Stagecoach today (1 June 2017) called for tougher action on air quality to protect local communities across Britain as the company launched its annual Green Week campaign.
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 are major contributors 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 are most at risk. The issue also has a financial cost to the country of over £20billion a year.
The company’s ninth annual Green Week (5-9 June) is therefore themed ‘Delivering Solutions’. In the South West, Stagecoach is using Green Week to launch a consultation on its Exeter network. Exeter was recently named as the worst city in the UK for traffic congestion* with an average peak hour driving speed of just 4.6mph with car drivers spending an average of 24.9 hours a year sitting in traffic congestion at rush hour. The direct impact on delivery of bus services across the city is extensive and significantly increases running costs. It is therefore essential to introduce measures that will maximize the efficiency of the network to best meet the needs of this growing city.
The consultation forms part of the most in depth analysis of Exeter’s bus network the operator has undertaken and Stagecoach will be in Princesshay on Monday 5 June (World Environment Day) encouraging customers to have their say by completing an online survey. The survey is open until midnight on Friday 16 June and everyone who completes it will be entered into a draw to win a 4 week Exeter Megarider, worth £55.99**.
Stagecoach South West Managing Director Bob Dennison said: “Public transport has a crucial role to play in helping Britain beat the scourges 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.
“Our Exeter network consultation gives our customers the opportunity to directly input into the future transport needs of this growing city, helping us plan a sustainable network that meets the needs of our customers whilst recognising changing travel patterns.”
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 recent research has shown 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.
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
Stagecoach Group is also 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.
For further information about Stagecoach Green Week visit www.stagecoach.com/greenweek