Sustainability should be at the heart of transport


Transport affects everyone”, so it should be affordable and kind to the environment, according to the Campaign for Better Transport. Charlotte Reid finds out more about the charity from its chief executive, Stephen Joseph.

As the UK faces economic troubles and high unemployment rates, it seems unlikely that improvements to public transport would be able to help.

But this is what the Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive Stephen Joseph believes.

Good public transport means people can access employment, services and shops, and employers can draw on a larger pool of talent”, he says.

Car dependency damages communities, affects our quality of life and has massive environmental consequences.

Many people still find it difficult to get around without a car and rising rail fares, cuts in bus services and a deregulated planning system won’t make this any better”.

The Campaign for Better Transport was established in 1972, but then it was called Transport 2000. It was set up by various railway workers’ unions and environmental pressure groups as a reaction to the possible closure of a large part of the rail network.

Originally, the organisation was set up as opposition to the Government’s plans to close large sections of the rail network and begin a large road building programme.

When it had achieved what it set out to do, the charity decided to broaden its remit and began to “campaign for sustainable and affordable transport that improves quality of life and protects the environment”, says Joseph.

In 2007, it decided to rebrand and from then on was known as the Campaign for Better Transport.

The charity has worked hard to make changes and make the Government recognise the importance of the environmental and the social impacts of transport. Joseph says that it is still important to campaign for improvements because “carbon emissions from transport are still rising”.

To name just a few of the achievements in the last few years, the charity has helped to save 131m miles of bus routes, persuaded the Government to create a new £560m fund for local green transport and managed to get extra carriages for trains to give commuters more space.

Joseph explains that because the charity is independent they work by researching solutions to problems raised by transport and then “pressuring national and local Government to adopt them, and empowering ordinary people up and down the country to take a stake in local transport decisions”.

Over the next year, it is campaigning to make the case for there to be an affordable, regular bus service in every part of the country through its Save our Buses campaign.

On top of that they have a Fair Fares Now campaign which “will continue to push for an affordable rail network that provides passengers with value for money”, Joseph says.

A controversial issue for the future of public transport is the High Speed rail link (HS2), which will join London with cities in the North of England. The Government gave the rail line the go-ahead in January but there are conflicting arguments over the environmental impact of the line.

Some campaigners are against it because it goes through rural areas and an area of outstanding beauty, the Chilterns. Others say that HS2 will help to increase capacity on train journeys, with the Government estimating it will divert nine million road journeys and 4.5 million plane journeys.

Joseph explains that the Campaign for Better Transport “would like to see this [HS2] form part of a national rail strategy that benefits all public transport users and not just those travelling on the line itself”.

But the important message for the future is to continue working to make travel sustainable. Joseph says, “We will be putting pressure on the Government to put sustainability at the heart of its transport policy”.

If you are interested in the environmental aspects of transport, public transport or sustainable transport you can get involved with the Campaign for Better Transport and find out more details on its website.

Joseph says it is important to “promote good, affordable door-to-door public transport which gives people real choices to give up their cars”.

At Blue & Green Tomorrow, we passionately believe in making travel as sustainable as possible. Take a look at our travel page to find out more.