Our response to Transport decarbonisation plan: call for ideas

Andy D'Agorne with new electric buses in the bus garage

The government has had a consultation on how to, in their words, decarbonise, transport. These are our suggestions which could make a significant difference  

Q11. What do you think government should be doing to reduce the greenhouse gases that are produced from:
Firstly, we need to reduce the need for cars by improving other forms of transport. This means prioritising cycling and walking and public transport. Most journeys are very short and could easily be made on foot or bike if that were not so dangerous and unpleasant.
Secondly, we need to reduce the need to travel be ensuring that most services, at least in urban areas, are available a short distance from where people live. We need local shops, local doctors’ surgeries, local community centres so that there is less need for people to travel to get the services they need.
Thirdly we need to greatly improve public transport and make it affordable. Over the last 20 years the real times price of driving has fallen, while the real terms costs of public transport has risen. This needs to be reversed with a huge reduction in public transport costs and cars paying the true costs of their damage to the environment. We also need public transport to carry bikes as a matter of course – and plenty of them – so the people not using cars can experience the same door to door convenience. And have bike hire facilities widely available.
Fourthly, we need to move away from petrol / diesel cars to electric cars. This in part should mean increasing the fuel duty on diesel and petrol so that electric cars are cheaper. It may require loans or subsidies for purchasing electric cars as these are more expensive than diesel / petrol cars. We should also look at how to convert existing cars to electric as this will reduce the emissions related to the production of new cars.

buses and coaches: Where possible buses and coaches should be electric, with the possibility of the reintroduction of trolley-buses considered in urban areas. All short distance buses should be electric and ways to rapidly swap batteries should be found for long distance coaches.
vans and lorries: More freight should be moved by (electric) rail and then moved “the last mile” by electric vans. This will mean building hubs on the edges of cities (or inside them for the metropolises) where transhipment can take place. This could completely eliminate diesel from freight transport as well as reducing traffic on the roads.
passenger rail: All rail lines should be electrified
aviation: There needs to be a huge reduction in air transport. Probably the fairest way to do this is to have a rising level of tax for each flight that a person takes during a year. This would allow people to take a holiday once a year, but would make vanity flying much harder. A way to ensure that people who fly for work get the lowest tax for their personal travel would need to be found (though we may expect to find people tying their holidays to business travel where they can).
freight: As already stated rail should be electrified, diesel lorries should be phased out with freight moving to rail and local transhipment stations.
maritime: There is a great opportunity to supplement engines on ships with wind and solar power which needs to be utilised.
other transport: Canal barges should be encouraged to install solar panels and use this for on board electric power and possibly even transmission.

Local journeys  

Q12. What, if any, changes to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by your local transport, would you like to see made?
York already has a relatively high proportion of cycling and walking, but if routes were improved so that entire routes were safe and pleasant more people could cycle. There is also a need for additional cycle parking.

Q13. What, if any, examples of good transport initiatives in your local area do you have (with a particular focus on low or zero emission initiatives)?
There is a low emission zone for buses in the city centre and some East Yorkshire buses have bike racks

Longer journeys  

Q14. What changes would you like to see that will help to reduce the greenhouse gases produced from longer journeys?
Public transport needs to be considerably cheaper, easier to use, more reliable and integrated. In London it is an obvious choice for most journeys requiring vehicles. Elsewhere this is much less true because of deregulation and ever increasing costs it is rare, unreliable, expensive and often old and dirty. We need to raise the standard of all public transport to that of the best. And also vastly increase the capacity for carrying cycles and cycle hire at coach and rail stations.

Purchasing goods  

Q15. What action do you think government should take to reduce the greenhouse gases produced from the:
distribution of goods across the country: As already suggested the creation of transhipment depots in cities so that last mile deliveries can be by electric vans, and actively support the move of freight onto rail
delivery of goods to shops or residences: As already suggested the creation of transhipment depots in cities so that last mile deliveries can be by electric vans, and actively support the move of freight onto rail

Travel choices  

Q16. Do you find it difficult to make informed travel choices in relation to the emissions produced?

Information to inform travel choices  

Q17. What information would you find helpful in making those choices?
The approximate measurement of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of your journey
A comparison of the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of your journey relative to other forms of transport
A comparison of the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of your journey relative to other lifestyle choices
Better information on local bus and rail services so that they are easier to use

Final comments  

Q18. What other views do you have on how to decarbonise the UK transport network?
Building new roads will only lead to an increase in traffic. We therefore need to cancel most of the road building programme (there may be small parts relating to things like safety that should continue).
Most road space is devoted to cars whether for driving or storage (parking). Much more space needs to be transferred to active transport so that these are safe and enjoyable.
Speed limits need to be reduced. Energy required is related to speed and mass. By reducing speed limits less energy is required. It should be 20 mph in all built up areas and reduced to 60 mph on motorways and dual carriageways. This would also have the added advantage of making public transport more time effective.
Road building requires vast amounts of concrete and steel, and this increases exponentially as vehicles get faster and heavier. Reducing car speeds and maximum weight for vehicles would significantly reduce the amount of infrastructure required.
Cars have been getting heavier on average, and this requires more fuel to move them. We need to seriously limit the availability of heavier cars.

Q19. Any other comments?
The greatest need is to reduce the need for travel in the first place by encouraging local services that can easily be reached on foot or bike.
It is noticeable how much additional traffic there is in term time. One way to prevent unnecessary car journeys to school is to create pedestrian areas around schools (either full time or at start and end of school time). This would make going to school by bike or foot safer and pleasanter and encourage many more children to walk or cycle to school. This used to be the general way of getting to school and there is no reason why it should not become so again.

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