Have you ever waited in the rain for a bus that never arrived? Ever had a train cancelled on you at the last minute? Or tried to cycle somewhere but didn’t feel safe on the road?
If you live in the UK, the answer is probably yes. Our transport system – the way we all get from A to B for work, shopping or seeing the people we care about – isn’t working as it should. Many people lack access regular public transport or decent cycle paths, particularly outside of our largest towns and cities. Meanwhile, left with no other option, more people are getting in their cars, making our roads more congested.
This isn’t just unfair, it’s a hazard to our health and our environment. Road transport contributes a third of all the UK’s carbon emissions and is a major cause of poor air quality.
Right now our lives are shifting because of Covid, but we’re always going to need greener transport options. We also know that right now the government is deciding how the UK economy recovers from the pandemic.
If we’re serious about a green recovery then we need to see massive investment in sustainable transport. But instead, the government is planning to spend billions building new roads.
After crunching the numbers, Greenpeace is calling for £10 billion more every year to transform our transport system. Here’s how that kind of investment would change things for the better:
Make transport more affordable and accessible for everyone
Lack of access to transport has the harshest impacts on the people who rely on it the most. It leaves elderly and young people more isolated, and makes job hunting much harder for people looking for work.
65% of the lowest income households in the UK do not own a car. But in many places the lack of alternatives makes it harder to access education, work and other essential services. £3bn a year could provide free bus travel for people on the lowest incomes.
Create thousands of green jobs
The Trade Union Congress has estimated that investing in sustainable transport- like building new train lines, cycle paths and space for walking- could create 179,000 new jobs over the next two years, spread all over the country. These green jobs will be essential for rebuilding our economy after the coronavirus, while also reducing pollution and carbon emissions.
That’s why we’re asking for £5.5bn a year to expand and improve the rail network, and £6 billion over the next five years to increase walking and cycling.
Breathe life back into neglected communities
Having access to good transport in the UK is a postcode lottery. For example, more than half of small towns in the South West and North East of England have such bad transport links that they’re considered to be ‘transport deserts’, where people have to rely on their cars to get around, if they own one at all.
Sustainable transport can connect people to their town centre and revitalize high streets, rather than driving to out-of-town retail parks. £1.3bn a year could restore the bus routes that have been cut since 2014 and get us started on adding new routes where they’re needed.
To put pressure on the government to reprioritise their spending, we must show them that people want better transport options, instead of more roads and pollution.