Local Bus Services Struggling to Provide ‘Better Transport’
Throughout the last year, a large number of local councils retained funding for bus services, especially for those in more rural areas. However, some have decided to spend nothing or even cut funding altogether, even in communities where no alternative public transport is accessible. This accounts for more than one in five bus routes within these regions, making it extremely difficult for users to access their public transport services.
According to a report, throughout England and Wales, local authorities have taken an estimated £182m away from supported bus services in the last decade. This has ultimately affected more than 3,000 routes. Furthermore, according to ‘Campaign for better Transport’, budgets for bus routes were yet again reduced last year by a further £20m. This in turn, resulted in 188 services being cut nationwide.
Steve Chambers, a spokesman for ‘Campaign for Better Transport’ has illustrated how research has displayed ‘the slow death of the supported bus’. This may result in huge implications for local communities accessing employment and education. As well as economies, health and congestion complications. Steve Chambers added by stating ‘The government must wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it’s too late. We want to see a proper national strategy for buses backed up by funding, like those that already exist for all other modes of transport.’ Further still, these cutbacks could potentially affect the pollution levels in towns and cities.
According to research published recently by campaign group, Greener Journeys, every £1 invested in local bus organisations brings more than £8 in wider economic benefits, as well as fighting against car pollution and congestion. DfT figures due to be published in the near future are likely to characterise the worsening congestion in the UK’s largest cities, where traffic speeds have fallen, and traffic is 14% greater than five years ago.
What is being done to improve pollution?
MPs have labelled the current state of air pollution in the UK, that contributes to roughly 40,000 deaths per year, a ‘national health emergency’. This has come after an unprecedented joint inquiry, made up of four committees of MPs ruled that the car industry must pay millions of pounds towards the UKs toxic air crisis under the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
A recent report from the environment, health, transport and environmental audit has seen that these committees have called for the government to stop putting the public’s health at risk from the rise of air pollution. Within this report, it is estimated that the current state of the air pollution in the UK, costs the economy an estimated £20bn.
With the government now losing three court cases for failing to provide a satisfying plan that is considered sufficient to tackle Britain’s toxic air, the UK is failing to comply with EU law that sets out limits for air pollution. Furthermore, few countries perform as poorly as the UK in terms of the number of areas that are non-compliant. Without major policy changes, most of the UK will remain in breach of legal limits for air pollution into 2025 and beyond. Towards the end of 2017, World Health Organisation testing found that the city of Glasgow is one of the most polluted areas within the UK, having poorer quality of air than London, Manchester and Cardiff.
The government is committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society. A cleaner, healthier environment benefits people and the local community. Clean air is essential for making sure the UK is a welcoming, healthy and prosperous country for people to live and work.
Over recent decades, UK air quality has improved significantly thanks to concerted action at all levels but there is more to do. Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK and investing in cleaner air and doing even more to tackle air pollution are priorities for the UK government. Action must be proportionate though, with the interests of local people at the heart of action to improve air quality.
Action to improve air quality is grounded in our modern industrial strategy. The government has identified ten key pillars to drive forward its industrial strategy, including delivering affordable energy and clean growth, alongside investing in science, research and innovation, upgrading infrastructure and driving growth across the country. Local authorities have a role to play in supporting and coordinating this as they develop and implement their proposals for tackling air quality.
Support Local Communities
A Clean Air Zone supports local plans for growth. The zone will become part of, and fit with, local strategies, plans and policies and transport plans. There will be clear leadership in delivering the goals of the zone including by local authorities and other public bodies ‘leading by example’ across the different themes.
How and where building and other developments are planned and built can have an effect on air quality. Approaches to planning in Clean Air Zones can help support a range of themes in this framework and encourage more sustainable behaviour, for example in the way people use electric vehicles and by making cycling and walking easier and more attractive. There are also opportunities to make strong links to approaches to other environmental behaviours including nature conservation, waste minimisation and energy efficiency.
Playing our Part
WJF Technical Support Ltd has been working with Eminox on its retrofitting programme for approximately six years. Operating with the Eminox team of experts has grown into a strong working relationship, and we now also undertake their service work (in partnership) all over the UK. Our highly trained technicians are able to diagnose and rectify faults using the latest plug-in technology on projects including Transport for London (TFL) – Green Corridors, Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) and Clean Air Zones (CAZ) Please follow the link for further information.