WPI Economics report highlights sustainable transport demand

Electric vehicles are critical for decarbonisation, but Graham Vidler of CPT and WPI Economics believe public transport is important for sustainability

Clean, green energy cannot fix the climate crisis alone. While we are very much advocates of electric vehicles (EVs) and other renewable solutions for personal transportation, public transport is the way to go for many. 

A report released by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), in collaboration with WPI Economics, identifies that a behavioural shift is required to decarbonise. Switching from private journeys to public transport is a critical next step to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

According to the Climate Change Committee, there is a fine balance between the behaviour of commuters and the technological advancements required. Currently public transport doesn’t receive as much attention as it should. The potential reduction from switching a single car journey regularly (13 times a year) could save 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2E) by 2030. 

Doubling this amount could reduce CO2e by almost 20 million tonnes by 2050. 

A healthier population comes with public transport 

The WPI Economics and the CPT has also identified societal benefits, such as better health, but the UK population alone believes that infrastructure is not yet ready for a wider adoption of public transport.

Around £28.8bn worth of congestion could be reduced by public transport, reaping cumulative health benefits amounting to £14.9bn; enough money to build 33 new hospitals for the NHS. 

The CEO of CPT, Graham Vidler says:

“Without shifting demand from cars to buses and coaches, the UK will fall short of its net zero ambitions.”

“The report shows that small changes in the way we travel can create a big difference. To unlock these benefits, each of us needs to switch just one journey per month from car

 to bus by the end of this decade, two journeys per month by 2050.”

The full report shows extensive industry data, which pays attention to the evolution of carbon emissions across sectors. 

“Our findings show that around half of Brits want to have a more balanced mix between using their car and taking the bus or a coach. With many parts of the country set to invest in speeding up journey times there’s a great opportunity for people to start shifting some of their journeys. Plus, getting more people on buses allows operators to invest in zero emission, increase network capacity and reduce fares resulting in a better service for Brits all round,” says Vidler. 

Helena Bennett, Head of Climate Policy at Green Alliance, also comments on the need  to shift from cars to other forms of transport. 

“Buses and coaches are both critical forms of transport for millions of people across the country, so it’s encouraging to see their many benefits laid out so clearly in this report. Transport remains a thorn in the side of the decarbonisation agenda, and while technological advancements will accelerate a large proportion of the transition to net zero, we also need to think carefully about encouraging alternative, low carbon modes of transport.”