Banish cars from the roads to hit green targets, bus boss urges

Drivers must be taken off the road in favor of cyclists and buses to clean the air and achieve green goals, the chief executive of one of Britain’s biggest bus companies has suggested.

Christian Schreyer, the boss of the Newcastle-based group Go-Ahead, said Britain should take inspiration from Germany and the Netherlands where traveling by bus or bicycle is the norm.

“If you go to the Netherlands today, all the buses in the city center are fully electric, they are silent, they are reliable, and then next to the bus you have your cycle lane and then you have pedestrians” , did he declare. “Nobody complains anymore.

“For me, there is no alternative if we want, on the one hand, to achieve the climate objectives and, on the other hand, to restore the attractiveness of cities.

He estimates that each of his buses can replace 40 to 50 cars, while a train can remove 400 cars.

“The question is: is the road mainly dedicated to cars? Or is it dedicated to bicycles, public transport and buses? said Mr. Schreyer.

“If the UK is to achieve its goals, if we are to have cities where we have a high standard of living where people like to live, we need to reduce noise, we need to reduce emissions and we need to reduce the use of the car. “

Reducing traffic on the roads would allow for more bus lines and cheaper fares. Mr Schreyer said his company’s investments in electric buses are less likely to pay off unless more cars are taken off the road.

‘If you invest £400,000 in an electric bus, it shouldn’t be parked in a traffic jam,’ he added.

European cities often have subsidized fares that make bus travel “much cheaper”, he admitted, with Berlin commuters paying around 50% of the cost of transport and 60% or more of the cost being subsidized in Paris.

Earlier this month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested capping bus fares at £2. The policy would cost the taxpayer £260m.

The plan predates the cost of living crisis and is believed to stem from a desire to drive fares outside of London down. A fare in the capital is £1.65, and passengers can change buses at no extra cost if they do so within the hour.

In Germany, the government has introduced a €9 ticket available during the summer months which offers unlimited travel for one month on regional buses and trains.

Go-Ahead, which operates the Bedford to Brighton Govia Thameslink Railway as well as bus routes across the UK and Ireland, has suffered during the pandemic as its reliable pensioner clientele has reduced usage. Older passengers are still only 65% ​​of their pre-Covid numbers.

The company, which operates more than 6,000 buses in England, was bought by Australian bus operator Kinetic Group and Spain’s Globalvia last month in a £669million deal after 28 years out of business. the London Stock Exchange.

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