The road less travelled?
When thinking about the environment/climate change, it’s easy to focus on what we need to give up or cut back on. It’s so important to focus on what we gain as well.
Transport around the UK (and further afield) is a great example of this. Currently in many parts of the country outside of London, public transport is expensive and unreliable. If you’re one of the households with access to a car, you have more mobility but still face traffic jams, and cars unfortunately are a leading cause of air pollution and climate change, with busy roads being noisy, smelly and dangerous.
A recent article on the BBC asked what the future of transport would look like in 2050. This focused heavily on self-driving cars, but many people pointed out that a sustainable future transport system looks a lot like the past (UK in 1900s and 1920s): electric trains, electric buses and trams, walking, biking and few cars. We have had the technology we need for over a century!
As well as lowering our environmental footprint, transport infrastructure which prioritises public (buses, trams, trains) and active (walking and biking) transport would dramatically cut our air pollution. The equivalent of 100 people die every day in the UK from air pollution. Having safe cycle networks that everyone could use would benefit our physical and mental health. The Parisian mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has increased cycle lanes and decreased on-street car parking in Paris with a boom in cycling as a result. Cheap or free public transport makes society fairer and more accessible to everyone, particularly those on low incomes. Free public transport is offered in Luxembourg, Dunkirk (France) and Tallin, Estonia (where it’s halved private car use) giving more freedom and better job opportunities/access for residents. In Scotland, under 19s – as well as over 60s – will be able to travel free on buses.
One can’t have an inadequate and unreliable system and expect lots of people to use it. Public transport has been privatized and run by different operators, so it’s neither integrated nor cheap. Free public transport gives everyone freedom and the opportunity to access and engage in all that is on offer in their regional area with benefits for all!
Please sir! Can we have some more? Ask our representatives for a free, integrated public transport system fit for our future.