Sunday 30 October 2011

modal shifts of the third kind

Margaret Thatcher famously proclaimed that an ultimate freedom was that no citizen should ever need to travel on a bus.

In cities like Norwich, buses - after walking and cycling - are what keeps it from entering total gridlock. Even with only handfuls of people on them, buses are big carbon-savers compared to private cars, and they save oodles of road space. The bus shown here - the No.25 which serves UEA and the train station - is the most frequent service in Norwich, and by a strange quirk of history, travels along what used to be Colonel Unthank's bridleway - now known as the Unthank Road.

Over long distances buses, and their cousins the coaches, are even better than the train for carbon emissions per person. According to the Department of Transport, the CO2 emissions per person for a journey from London to Manchester are as follows:

car : 36.6 kg
train: 5.2 kg
coach:4.3 kg

If you traveled by plane, that figure would be a massive 62kg per passenger. Figures assume the average car carrying 1.6 people, and the average coachload of 40 people.

So why aren't more people using the humble bus? In 2005 the then government introduced free bus travel for those of pensionable age and some other concessionary groups. It immediately increased bus patronage around the country, and was later extended to include cross-country travel. However, it became apparent quite quickly that the formula for calculating how the government reimbursed local authorities for running these schemes meant that most authorities had significant shortfalls. In Norfolk this shortfall is about £4.5 million (per year), with 180,000 people (passholders) eligible to use the scheme. It is critical in rural areas where the scheme has given new freedoms for non-car owners to travel around.

Now here follows a completely upfront and brazen replication of a County Council petition! The County Council is gathering names on a petition to present to the government in it's effort to rectify this big anomaly in funding - i.e. please Mr. Cameron, cough up the money you should be paying to enable us to continue running this bus subsidy. You can sign the petition here .

This is somewhat unusual I know, for the blog to be supporting the County Council, but in this case we are totally aligned in what we would like to see happen.

Done. So now I am off on my bike to catch the train!

No comments:

Post a Comment