Huw Merriman, MP for the Bexhill and Battle constituency, helped launch a national campaign to get people back on board public transport outside the House of Lords in London today (19 May).
The Way Forward campaign, which has been launched by sustainable transport charity Campaign for Better Transport, is calling on the Government to support public transport by actively encouraging people to use buses, trains, coaches and trams as restrictions ease, and introducing an incentive scheme to help boost passenger numbers as part of a national plan to place public transport at the heart of a green recovery.
Huw Merriman MP, said: “Supporting economic recovery after Covid provides a unique opportunity to encourage more use of public transport as people return to the workplace and are able to go out again to enjoy their leisure time. A reliable and affordable public transport system will support the local economy whilst protecting our local environment and help us achieve our climate change targets. The Government’s new Bus Strategy which was published in March and yesterday’s (20 May) announcements on rail reform following the Williams review are evidence that this government is serious about improving our public transport infrastructure. Locally, it is vital that our local councils and public transport stakeholders focus their efforts on ensuring they deliver a joined up public transport system which works for both the urban and rural areas. I am looking forward to working closely with them to ensure that this is a key priority.”
Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The events of the last year have made people less confident about using public transport, but as restrictions continue to ease, we all need to start getting back on board. That’s why we’ve launched this campaign to urge the Government to reassure people that public transport is safe again and to introduce a national scheme of discounted fares to encourage people to use it. By getting back on board we can all help to reduce congestion, protect the environment and boost the economy in a way that is fair and sustainable.”
As more workplaces, shops and businesses reopen in the coming months, campaigners argue it will be crucial that people return to public transport to avoid increased congestion and air pollution, and help communities recover. To protect public transport services both now and in the long term, and encourage people back on board, The Way Forward campaign is calling on the Government to:
- Lead the way with a national campaign that encourages people to see public transport as a safe way to travel and to launch an incentive scheme that helps to get people back on board
- Continue the emergency financial support for public transport services until passenger numbers have recovered
- Place public transport at the heart of a green recovery with a passenger-centred approach to getting people back on board. Public transport needs to evolve to suit new ways of working and living to offer a genuine alternative to the private car. It needs to be easier and simpler to pay for with contactless payments as standard and multi-modal tickets that can be used on buses and trains, and more affordable with flexible tickets that fit new travel patterns
- Protect services and renew the public transport system by restoring lost rail links and reconnecting communities to the network.