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19 Jul 2018
Stagecoach West Scotland has urged politicians to take tough action on congestion and put buses at the heart of their plans to improve local air quality in across Scotland.
The transport company has written to local politicians – including MPs, MSPs and local councillors - across the UK to warn of the worrying impact of congestion and to give examples of the ways in which this growing problem is affecting local bus customers every day.
Nationwide research showed that the direct and indirect costs of congestion to all UK motorists amounted to over £37.7 billion in 2017, an average of £1,168 per driver, with drivers spending an average of 31 hours a year in congestion during peak hours.
Stagecoach’s own research has also shown the extent of the problem. For example some bus journey times in West Scotland are up to 57% longer during the morning peak than at other times of the day during an express service to Glasgow. These figures are the result of severe traffic congestion in the area, something that is having significant impact on bus passenger and all road users, and something that urgently needs to be addressed.
Recent research issued by Greener Journeys also showed that the Government’s seven-year freeze on fuel duty has resulted in a 4% increase in traffic since 2011 and a similar decrease in public transport use, equal to up to 60 million fewer rail journeys and 200 million fewer bus journeys across the country.
Stagecoach West Scotland Managing Director Sam Greer said: “This is not specifically about Stagecoach, or any other bus company – it’s about the impact of congestion on bus passengers and other road users in the area and the situation simply cannot continue if we are to continue improving the local bus network and improving the local environment.
“Our passengers are paying the price for short-sighted policies that have led us to this point – we urgently need politicians to take practical action to get our towns and cities moving again.
“Buses are key to delivering this – effective bus networks can boost the local economy, improve traffic flow, reduce air pollution and help improve air quality. We are playing our part by investing in improvements for customers including in digital technology, new routes and new vehicles, but we need politicians to play their part to help buses flourish. All of the tools exist for them to take action now.”
Traffic congestion significantly impacts bus customers in a number of ways, including journey times, reliability, satisfaction levels and the cost of their ticket.
Stagecoach has revealed that a 10% decrease in operating speed leads to an 8% rise in operating costs – and, despite the company’s attempts to protect customers as much as possible; these increased costs invariably push prices up for passengers. This can lead to fewer people taking the bus, potentially resulting in even more cars on the road.
“We already know that traffic growth is currently growing by 1.9% per year in the main local authority areas served by Stagecoach West Scotland, one double decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road so bus travel is undoubtedly has a key role to play in reversing the damaging impact of poor air quality in our towns and cities”.
In its letter, Stagecoach has offered to meet with elected members to talk through the local issues, traffic hotspots and potential solutions, including changes that can be made to road infrastructure and layout, traffic management systems and priority schemes.