We’ve all had a time where we have had to rely on public transport and it has undoubtedly let us down, right? We simply cannot rely on public transport to either turn up in the first place or be delayed by some time. Whether it is a bus or a train, the government need to invest the time and money in reforming the transportation industry - not just for a more stable service but also to help save the planet.
For a long time now, we have all been aware of climate change and how we need to collectively ‘do our bit’ for the environment. By choosing public transport, you are helping work and strive towards a better future for the planet.
The climate emergency
All transport burns fossil fuels but it is collectively better for the environment if public transport is used, due to the considerable number of people who can use it together, rather than their own cars. The issue is that fossil fuel combustion produces the greenhouse gas emissions which are known to boost the Earth's natural temperature. This means that if we all shared public transport, less fossil fuels would be burned meaning we are environmentally better off.
Public transport use is needed more than ever to help save our planet as the statistics surrounding this area are becoming quite alarming. In 2018, road transportations accounted for 33% of the United Kingdom's overall CO2 emissions. This was ahead of all other industries – including energy. Additionally, it has been reported that 1 in 5 deaths in 2018 were caused by air pollution levels from the increased use of fossil fuel burning. If these statistics cannot promote a need for a reform of the transport sector, I am not sure what else can.
The commuter diaries
On a personal level, public transport has been a huge part of my life for the past academic year. I am one of the very few students who decided to stay at home for university and commute to campus, by train, when needed. With services running on time, the commute should take 2 hours, but I have found myself on numerous occasions stuck at train stations for some time wondering when the next train to get home will depart. Just recently, it took me 6 hours to get home due to disruption on the line – something which could not be helped, yet no less frustrating.
It is not just the disruption on the tracks I have had to worry about, many rail companies, such as Trans Pennine Express, have reported staffing difficulties. These make it difficult for a reliable service with short notice cancellations frequent. This company are also being hit by strike action with unrest among workers relating to a poor pay grade. This is another reason more money is needed in this industry as the rail network cannot function without highly trained staff.
I also have no plans to learn to drive, along with many other students in this post pandemic time. This is because finding an instructor and getting a test slot is getting increasingly difficult with the sheer volume of delayed youngsters wanting a driving license. Perhaps if public transport were dependable, more youngsters would be encouraged to use it.
I feel like being a commuter has opened my eyes as to why so many people choose to drive nowadays. The transport industry needs a serious reform and a large investment if we are to ever tackle climate change and promote the use of public transportation.
Public transport effectiveness is going to vary from city to city and town to town depending on where you are departing from and then travelling to. London for example is obviously a major hub for public transport with many routes and possibilities for transportation other than cars. This is significantly better for the environment as less fossil fuels are burning, and the individual's carbon footprint will be better.
There is not, however, as much availability of public transport if you are from a small town or a city with few links. The convenience and cheapness of public transportation is not as good, and many people are driven to increase fossil fuel use by using cars. For example, in England, outside of London, buses have taken a 38% drop in usership recently thus increasing air pollution levels little by little.
Just because of where we reside, we become faced with increasing and contributing to the climate emergency happening around us. It really is a postcode lottery for effective transport links and those outside of major cities are almost forgotten and made to fuel climate change.
What needs to happen
For public transportation to get the use it needs, there are several things that need to change. This includes a more reliable service with frequent trains and buses not just from large cities but from smaller towns as well. The price of train tickets has also increased over the recent years dramatically and with the cost-of-living crisis now, many cannot afford to use Britain's railways. Campaign for Better Transport found that the cost of fares is a large factor as to why people do not use public transport with 1 in 5 being put off by the price. The price point of public transport is therefore something that needs to be revolutionised as we should be rewarded for using it and not penalised by the staggering cost.
There are many ways we can help fight the climate emergency in our country but rethinking how we travel and making use of public transport is certainly a good place to begin. This article provides more ideas on how we can be more sustainable in the future and is a brilliant read if you are interested.
I urge the government to rethink the climate emergency currently happening and spend money on the transport industry for the sake of our planet.