It was a grim irony that the best transport news in ages was buried in the first few days of the coronavirus lockdown. On 26 March, the government published a document, Decarbonising Transport, which went further in facing up to the problem of emissions from air and vehicle traffic than most campaigners had dared to hope for. The challenge is enormous. In 2016, transport overtook energy to become the single biggest source of domestic emissions. Motor vehicles on their own are responsible for around a fifth of the total. On aviation, the UK is the world’s third-worst polluter, behind China and the US. But here was the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, declaring that “public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice”, adding “we will use our cars less” for anyone who missed the point. Transport was to be a centrepiece of the UK’s preparations for the postponed Cop26 climate talks. Finally, it appeared we were on the way to grasping the nettle of our polluting driving and flying habits. Six weeks on, we are in a different world. Travel of all sorts has collapsed: there were 90% fewer flights from European airports in April compared with a year ago. In the UK there are just 5% of the normal number of rail journeys, while road traffic has fallen to levels last seen in 1955. In the short-term, this means steep drops in emissions: one estimate says the UK’s have fallen by 36%. But already experts are warning that unless strong action is taken, any temporary benefits could be quickly erased.
Guardian 9th May 2020 read more »
We need to protect the public transport network as lockdown is lifted, the UK Transport Secretary is expected to say at a press conference on Saturday. The BBC understands Grant Shapps will encourage the public to continue to work from home if they can. Those people who need to travel into a workplace will be urged to consider choosing more active ways to travel like walking and cycling. The intention is to take pressure off roads and public transport networks. It is believed that Mr Shapps will talk about using the unique “opportunity” of the lockdown restrictions to change the way we get to work. Mr Shapps is likely to announce extra funding for local authorities to pay for alterations to the road network to facilitate this move to more active ways to get around. He is also expected to announce plans to give local authorities new powers to change the road network and designate extra space for cyclists and pedestrians. The mayors of London and Manchester – Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham – announced last week that they were planning to close some roads to cars to create dedicated pedestrian and cycle routes. The Transport Secretary’s announcement comes as a coalition of nine environmental and transport pressure groups have written to the government to demand a big increase in spending on walking and cycling.
BBC 9th May 2020 read more »
Telegraph 8th May 2020 read more »