Associate Feature: Shared transport must be at heart of Scotland’s travel ambitions
Domestic transport is the largest source of harmful emissions in the UK.
Without action to address this, it will be impossible to meet the ambitious climate change targets set by both the Westminster and Holyrood governments and achieve the aim to reduce the number of miles travelled by car by a fifth by 2030.
Public transport clearly has an important role to play, but too often decision-makers overlook the extraordinary potential of shared transport to make the vital difference.
Schemes such as car clubs, bike share, e-scooters and digital demand responsive transport (DDRT) can significantly reduce both congestion and carbon emissions.
In Scotland, car club membership rose by a quarter last year – taking almost 10,000 privately-owned vehicles off the roads.
Emissions from car club vehicles in Scotland are 37 per cent lower than the average UK car, and almost a fifth of car club cars in Scotland are electric – compared to only 1 per cent of privately-owned cars across the UK.
Car clubs also provide their members with convenient access to cleaner vehicles without the cost and hassle of ownership, for example, through tax, MOT, servicing, repairs and depreciation of value.
Our research has found that households can save more than £2,000-a-year by switching from a private vehicle to car club membership.
But as well as making sustainable transport cheap, we must also ensure it is attractive.
That’s why CoMoUK created the Travel Better Tool, funded by Transport Scotland and available at www.travelbetter.org.uk, to help people shift to more active and sustainable methods.
With the number of bus journeys taken in Scotland declining by 12 per cent over the past five years, we believe that DDRT services will play an important role in the future of public transport and decarbonising our roads.
The dial-a-bus schemes, which have been revolutionised by accessible smart technology in recent years, respond dynamically to passenger demand rather than tying users to fixed routes and timetables.
Passengers can use apps to request vehicles, typically smaller than minibuses, to any local destination, and operators can calculate the most efficient routes in real-time.
Meanwhile, the growing popularity of bike share schemes across the UK has reduced car mileage for each user by an estimated 3.7 miles every week.
The schemes are attracting more people back to cycling, delivering mental and physical health benefits, and helping the environment.
Electric bikes (e-bikes) are soaring in popularity because they reduce journey times and help riders to tackle hills – appealing to all generations.
It is disappointing that Edinburgh’s popular bike hire scheme has not been reintroduced – and the capital risks being left behind among Europe’s great cities unless this is urgently addressed.
At CoMoUK, we work to bring together politicians, transport officials and academics and operators to explore ways in which shared transport schemes can help governments meet climate change targets.
Amid the cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency, this has never been more important.
CoMoUK, along with Smarter Choices, Smarter Places, recently launched a new Shared Transport for All scheme, designed to help people in deprived communities access shared transport options in Scotland’s largest low emission zones.
Community engagement officers will work with those most likely to be impacted by the enforcement of LEZs in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
We are heartened by a commitment from Scottish Government to investigate micro-mobility and we are hopeful that sound legislation will ensure the safe, legal introduction of e-scooters to Scotland.
Alongside the Scottish Government’s strong commitment to bikes for individuals, we must see a greater commitment to public shared bike and e-bike schemes, to complement private ownership.
If Scotland is to meet its ambitious climate change targets, we must harness the full potential of shared transport.
Rachael Murphy is Scotland director of Collaborative Mobility UK. CoMoUK is the national charity for the public benefit of shared transport such as car, bike and e scooter share schemes.
More information: https://como.org.uk/
This article is sponsored by CoMoUK