2020 is set to be a pivotal year not just for our planet as a whole, but for local communities right across the UK.
Why? Because for the first time ever there is a political consensus that we are facing a climate emergency which threatens the future of our planet - and something must be done to address it.
Scientific evidence demonstrating the scale of the crisis and the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions quickly has never been clearer. We can no longer afford a "business as usual" approach to managing the climate emergency. Radical changes are needed.
The UK will host COP26, the United Nations climate change summit, in Glasgow in November 2020. But this is not just an issue for debate and negotiations among global leaders. It is a local crisis that needs urgent local action.
Surface transport is single largest producer of carbon emissions in the UK and the only sector where greenhouse gas emissions are growing. We can see the disturbing evidence of this all around us as dozens of towns and cities across the country continue to breach World Health Organisation annual limits on air pollution. Queensferry Road in Edinburgh and both Seagate and Lochee Road in Dundee are all hotspots within our area.
It is a local crisis that needs urgent local action.
The biggest transport source of that air pollution - some 41% - is diesel cars. An unsustainable use of cars is also responsible for the worsening congestion that is not just a drag on our regional economies, it is killing our children.
Poor air quality already causes 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with these health impacts beyond the terrible human cost estimated at £20 billion every year. Halving average city traffic speeds due to congestion leads to a 50% increase in NOx emissions from larger vehicles.
All of this means that it is time for tough decisions by us all, including politicians who are the custodians of policies which affect our future.
The UK government has set a 2050 net zero carbon target. It has also introduced an Environment Bill which will toughen regulation to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive. Legislation will also create legally-binding environmental improvement targets.
But we cannot wait a further 30 years to make the behaviour changes we owe to our children. Research last summer by Greener UK and the Climate Coalition found that nearly 70% of British people want urgent political action to tackle climate change and protect the natural environment.
We cannot wait a further 30 years to make the behaviour changes we owe to our children.
The good news is that the solution to a large part of the problem already exists - the bus. Contrary to the outdated image of "dirty buses", buses are amongst the cleanest forms of transport.
New ultra-low and zero emission bus technology delivers huge environmental improvements - Euro VI buses are up to 95% cleaner than earlier models and cleaner than equivalent cars. Not only that, buses offer up to 20 times the carrying capacity of standard cars. Indeed, without buses it will be impossible for governments to deliver on their ambitious targets.
As a company committed to doing the right thing for our planet and our communities, Stagecoach is leading the way in the transition to a cleaner public transport future: Over the past two years they have invested more than £11.2 million in new vehicles across Fife, Perthshire, Dundee and Angus.
In summer 2018, Stagecoach invested £5.2m in 19 first of their kind, low level Plaxton Panther LE coaches for parts of the Express City Connect network and £2.5m in 15 single decker buses for the popular Taylink 99 route from St Andrews to Dundee. In March 2019, they also invested £3.5m in a fleet of 16 electric hybrid double deck vehicles for part coastal service 7.
Their huge investment highlights that they are not only committed to improving public transport and reducing the environmental impact of their service, but that they are also determined to make their vehicles as easily accessible as possible.
Stagecoach has invested more than £1 billion in new greener vehicles and by the end of 2020 it will have one of the biggest electric bus fleets in Europe.
Within the past eight years, Stagecoach East Scotland has invested £15.4m in electric hybrid buses alone. Over the past decade across the UK, Stagecoach has invested more than £1 billion in new greener vehicles and by the end of 2020 it will have one of the biggest electric bus fleets in Europe.
The benefit also comes not just from making their own business more sustainable, but from providing a ready-made cleaner alternative to the car. Analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that without Stagecoach bus services, there would be 0.19 million tonnes of extra CO2 a year from passengers using cars and other transport.
But the benefit of buses to our local communities goes even further. Buses are central to the health of our high streets, which data continues to show are in intensive care.
Data from the British Retail Consortium showed high street stores in 2018 suffered their worst Christmas in a decade as retail sales flatlined and massive discounts failed to lure shoppers. The signs are that 2019 was no better. Fewer people visited UK shops on the last Saturday before Christmas this year, with visitor numbers falling 8% on last year.
Buses are central to the health of our high streets.
However, again the bus provides a route to revitalising our high streets. On average bus passengers spend more money per head in our high streets than those who arrive by car.
So instead of building a local transport system that is centred on lower revenue generating and higher polluting cars, evidence suggests the bus should be central to how we envision our town and city centres in the future.
New years are time for reflection and resolutions. They are also a time of hope. In 12 months' time, when we look back on 2020, Stagecoach hope to say that it was finally the Year of the Bus.
Opinion piece from Douglas Robertson, Managing Director of Stagecoach East Scotland.
Stagecoach Announce New Year Promotion
Stagecoach has also announced a New Year promotion that will see commuters across Scotland receive one week’s free bus travel.
We hope that it will encourage other commuters to choose Stagecoach and see the many other benefits we have to offer.
The promotion will apply to all four-week megarider tickets purchased online between New Year’s Day until 31st January (inclusive) in Scotland.
With rail and other operator fares set to increase in January, Stagecoach believes this is a time when most people are looking to make savings. The promotional offer has been introduced to encourage people to ditch the car or switch to bus from rail and choose a more environmentally friendly way to commute.
Robert Andrew, Regional Director Scotland and Wales, said:
“It is great to be able to offer our customers a huge cost saving at this time of year and thank them for their custom while helping with the back to work commute. We hope that it will encourage other commuters to choose Stagecoach and see the many other benefits we have to offer.
We want to make it as easy and affordable as possible for people to use the bus. We provide a service which is accessible, convenient and available and pride ourselves on being a reliable bus service in the local communities and cities that we serve.”
One weeks’ free travel applies to four-week megariders purchased online via the Stagecoach website.
Perth's very first zero waste shop is opening soon, allowing eco-conscious shoppers to grab food and household products, free of wasteful packaging.
January 13th Monday 2020
Conservationist and tv presenter Chris Packham gave a talk about photographer at Perth Concert Hall.
December 23rd Monday 2019
Christmas is a wonderful excuse to go all out extra, but how about applying some planet-friendly mindfulness to your celebrations?
December 16th Monday 2019