News & opinion
Read the latest news from across the whole sector that highlights the development of affordable, accessible and low-carbon shared mobility
News - 11 Dec 2020
New UK alliance formed for green and fair transport
CoMoUK is proud to be part of a new partnership alongside eight other walking, cycling, public transport and shared mobility groups. Collectively, we have come together to support and galvanise work to cut greenhouse gas emissions with less than one year to go until COP26 in Glasgow. The Sustainable Transport Alliance has been established by: the Community Rail Network; the Campaign for Better Transport; Greener Journeys; Bus Users UK; the Community Transport Association; Living Streets; Sustrans; the London Cycling Campaign; and Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK). Greenhouse gas emissions from road transport currently make up around a fifth of the UK’s total emissions, and transport is the largest-emitting single economic sector. Private car use needs to be cut by between 20 and 60 per cent by 2030, which requires a transition to healthier, greener modes of transport: walking and cycling; community, public and shared transport such as car, cycle or e-scooter sharing schemes. Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, the UK-wide alliance said rapidly reducing private car use is ‘crucial to safeguarding our climate and tackling air pollution’. We have set three top priorities for the alliance:
- Communicate that public, shared and community transport, alongside active travel, is beneficial and aspirational, crucial to recovery, our climate and communities.
- Create opportunities for collaboration and innovation across the transport field, involving local, national and devolved governments, and putting communities at the heart of positive change.
- Bring partners and evidence together to galvanise strategic and systemic progress on sustainable, inclusive transport in the build-up to COP-26.
News - 3 Nov 2020
Facing up to meeting online
READ RICHARD DILKS’ LATEST LOCAL TRANSPORT TODAY ARTICLEHere at CoMoUK we are putting together an online conference. Who isn’t? you might well ask. Time and our audiences will tell how successfully we will have pivoted into the different media we use in 2020. Instead of discussing catering and table layouts we have been debating the merits of different platforms for different functions. Out has gone the shaky video link from afar and in has come the hopefully steady-as-a-rock video link from far and wide. They are media that pre-existed the Covid pandemic; it’s just that now we are using them much more of course. There is a wider lesson there I think: let us look to the tools we already have in our hands that can lessen our impact on the planet and make sure we are doing all we credibly can with those before we reach for new ones. Some of this has been incredibly positive. Although we did a creditable job at this previously, getting colleagues to attend from public authorities was something we had to work at hard. That has eased considerably – all they need to do is to click a link at the right time and take part from wherever they are. Similarly, with international speakers. In other words, inclusivity is up because barriers to entry are down. There is plenty to be taken from that at a philosophical level too (as I attempted to cover when I analysed our experience of social inclusion and bike share in LTT01 May). Whether we achieve the same levels of engagement remains to be seen. There is a wider parallel here too. There is no simpler way to cut transport emissions than to not trans- port somebody or something in the first place. But we are social animals and this comes at a cost to us, our networks, our experiences of life. My experience tells me that online connected time is not the same as face-to-face time. It is somehow both quicker and slower, and certainly more draining, while also being often very rich and full. Our discussions about the conference format concluded that mimicking the formats (I nearly wrote ‘old formats’ there) of face-to- face events was unlikely to be the way forward. We have instead tried to adapt. That’s another lesson – we must surely throw our energies into designing around the world we now have, as we continue to move through this pandemic, rather than the world we used to have. So out went the modal sessions we used to run in favour of sticking with themes. I anticipate these will form a lot of the talking points for us in this critical decade ahead. We’ll start with where we are now – Covid and its disruptions. Laying aside the awful human health impacts of the pandemic, I think it is clear that there are significant transport benefits (less travel, much more walking and cycling) that have occurred, but very large questions over whether they can be sustained; and that there have also been significant disbenefits (motorised traffic back to pre-Covid levels within the context of much lower travel demand overall). Then we will move on to setting a greenhouse gas emissions agenda for the UK as a country with one year to go before hosting COP26 (the planning for which continues on the basis of a face-to-face event), which will rightly be a calling card over the coming year for those seeking to cut transport emissions. We have a session on urban, which understandably gets lots of attention. It is where most of our fellow citizens (a telling word) live, after all, and where most of our emissions come from in transport, and where the concentrations of those emissions cause the greatest harm. We also, however, have a session on rural, which is packed with speakers and interest – and I think one side-benefit of Covid may well prove to be renewed vigour in sustainable rural transport (LTT20 Dec 19), but this will undoubtedly be challenging. Which is not a euphemism for impossible. Hubs (LTT08 Nov 19) are a focus and relate to both urban and rural and the space in-between. Our speaker mix reflects the actor mix in the emerging mobility and community hub economy, an economy we plan to do more work to help in the near future. The impact of Covid here has undoubtedly been to move away from just the mobility aspect and more towards the community one. As some people leave cities and others whose lifestyle was based on significant distance commuting are finding themselves working from home much more, we expect that is a balance that will neither remain as it is currently – but nor will it tip back to how it was before. We’ll be tackling strategy and procurement, which perhaps doesn’t sound as sexy as, say, strategy and vision but is in fact where a lot of this cutting emissions stuff will actually be decided. Having a vision is important but far from sufficient in the game of emissions reduction: just ask those local authorities who have declared climate emergencies but failed to take any other significant steps. Or look at the lack of progress on clean air zones. Strategies can drift into visions, especially when they have very long-term overall targets but a dearth of short- and medium-term targets and measures. The London Mayor’s current transport strategy largely fits in this category, sadly; as does the Government’s actions on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. I think – and I do hope I am correct – that neither will remain in this category. Then we will turn to the (under-played) role of employers and institutions in achieving emissions cuts, greater use of sustainable modes and changing user behaviour. I see them as a critical enabler in the decade ahead. Finally, we will look at 2025. Remember when that seemed a very long time away? Floating conveniently in a Buck Rogers-type distance? It is only just over four years away so it really is time to start thinking where we should be by then, not least as we will have used up half the critical decade by that point. It will be interesting to hark back to this moment in time then and see what has endured. Will we be in a 2008 parallel, where climate consciousness was raised only to be dashed on rocks labelled ‘economy recovery’? Or will we find ways to rebuild our economy without further damaging our planet? The conference is free to attend and details including registration are at https://conference.como.org.uk/ Hope to see you there!
Richard Dilks[embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/LTT810-page-27.pdf" download="all"]
News - 27 Oct 2020
Scottish Bespoke Advice Service
CoMoUK offers free bespoke advice, funded by Transport Scotland, to any Scottish organistion interested in establishing a shared transport scheme, or promoting the use of an existing scheme. This advice is available to local authorities, public sector and third sector organisations, community groups and businesses in Scotland. CoMoUK can provide advice and support on:
- Different operational models for shared schemes including the benefits and limitations of each.
- The feasibility of a shared car or bike scheme in your local area, including support with developing a business case.
- Technical advice for setting up a shared transport scheme.
- Funding opportunities.
Scottish Micro-Grants 2020In 2020/21, CoMoUK has funding to offer micro-grants of up to £2,500 to established Scottish community groups who are setting-up new shared transport schemes – either bike share or car share. The aim of the fund is to help facilitate the sharing of the assets, for example the grant can be used for telematics or booking / billing software etc. Click the link below for more information.
ForumsCoMoUK also holds regular shared transport forums on the different shared transport modes, if you are interested in signing up to a forum, please drop us an email and we can sign you up.
News - 26 Oct 2020
On-demand bus scheme for passengers in Scotland needed
CoMoUK has submitted proposals to the Scottish government for on-demand bus services to be introduced in a bid to help communities cut-off by reductions in local services. The full report can be read below. The ‘flexible bus’ initiative would allow operators to use ‘Demand Responsive Technology’ which would link local buses with the people who need them. The proposal is among several ideas we submitted in evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. Similar schemes are up and running elsewhere in the UK including Flex Tees in the Tees Valley and Go Coach in Kent, which are being used to help connect passengers with essential services and have been keeping key workers moving during the Covid-19 crisis. In Newport, the city’s ‘fflecsi’ service system replaces some scheduled local bus services with more flexible services rather than following a set timetable at fixed bus stops, and buses are ordered either via a mobile phone app or by calling a phone number.
News - 16 Sep 2020
Councils should boost car clubs for the post-Covid commute
PRESS RELEASE: Councils should boost car clubs for the post-Covid commute Councils should take advantage of changing commuter habits by introducing specific car-sharing strategies, a leading transport charity has said. In a briefing for all 32 local authorities in Scotland, CoMoUK said office-based workers are more likely to work at home in the post-coronavirus era. For many workers, that means running their own vehicle will be less affordable, making the prospect of car clubs more appealing. CoMoUK has called on councils to create more spaces for car clubs on public roads and target specific areas where people will be changing their working habits. In the briefing for local authorities, the charity said other shared transport initiatives can also help drive economic recovery. It said shared mobility hubs linking up different forms of transport and the expansion of bike sharing schemes should all be considered. Scotland director Lorna Finlayson also said focusing on deprived areas could improve health outcomes for those on lower incomes, and help tackle ‘transport poverty’. The Scottish Parliament is currently taking evidence on Scotland’s green recovery, a process aimed at helping the economy deal with challenges posed by coronavirus and climate change. Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said: “We know that one of the changes in a post-Covid economy will be more people working at home. “That will reduce the number of commuter journeys made in a car, as many people just won’t see the benefit of running their own vehicle any longer. “This will open the door for car club schemes, and councils need to be ready with a strategy to take advantage of these shifts in behaviour. “It benefits everyone, as car clubs are more likely to use environmentally-friendly vehicles, and it will reduce the amount of traffic on the streets while saving people money. “COVID-19 has devastated Scotland’s economy and we can’t go back to the old ways of doing things. “If local authorities start preparing for a green future now, it could help save commuters money and move Scotland closer to hitting its climate change targets.” [embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Shared-transport-driving-the-post-Covid-recovery.pdf" download="all"]
News - 9 Sep 2020
Decarbonisation: cutting edge ideas from the past
READ RICHARD DILKS’ LATEST LOCAL TRANSPORT TODAY ARTICLEDecarbonisation? Yes, yes, we know all about that. So last decade! The Climate Change Act is dated 2008, after all. Isn’t that all sorted now? No, of course it’s not. Readers of LTT need no reminding that transport is now the largest emitting sector or that its emissions have actually risen since 2013. The Government has revived the issue by calling for ideas on its own Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge document published in March this year. I recently found an old pamphlet that CoMoUK’s predecessor organisation produced about sustainable property development and sustainable transport. You could reproduce its content today and it would still be fresh, cutting edge even. This stuff is, we can therefore conclude, not new in concept. It is not new news. Nor are the ingredients new. CoMoUK is about to turn 21. It is ten years since the London Cycle Hire Scheme opened. The DfT itself published a guide on making car sharing and car clubs work back in March 2005. Yet what we might do about it – really do about it, make substantial educated pivots in policy and practice as a country – is actually new, because a lot of it has not happened yet. The pages of LTT have been excellent hunting grounds for ideas here, such as the changes needed to transport scheme appraisal. If we see transport as a game of football – bear with me – then we need the run of play and shots on goal to be in the right direction. The earlier we can get this happening, the less spectacular the goals will have to be later on. Fundamental to this is getting the goalposts in the right spots. Much of what I have here circles around this thinking, and deliberately spans different approaches. I claim no monopoly whatsoever on wisdom and would love to hear your thoughts in response. Avoid / shift / improve featured in a number of responses to the Government’s call for ideas which I have seen, and rightly so. The question is how to achieve it. I think we will need to have binding targets to achieve this; and I don’t mean the kind that end in a zero with a number before that which is a comfortable number of decades away. These targets would therefore be to avoid some travel altogether, particularly that which is highest emitting; shift the travel demand that remains to sustainable modes as far as possible; and improve on what is left. Of course, all this is on one level laughably old hat and searingly new. Are we now at a point, pushed by Covid 19 and pulled by the climate crisis, where a government could put in place formal, near-term targets on avoid, shift and improve? While we all need to get our metaphorical houses in order, authorities getting their own houses in order is an important part of the mix. Through channelling the internal spend of governmental departments, executive agencies, transport authorities, local authorities, NHS bodies and so on to decarbonisation a huge amount of change can be achieved. This would naturally form part of the national level targets already mentioned, but in addition there should be entity and sector-specific targets that, again, are binding. We cannot expect bodies that are fundamentally part of a command and control bureaucratic structure to change unless they are given the permission and direction to do so. External spend by public authorities should pass through a decarbonisation test before being approved, with a recalibration of transport investment needed before this can happen. Joined-up government is another idea from the pages of recent history that remains so often unimplemented. Transport being a derived demand, it is of course far too limiting to approach decarbonising transport from the point of view of transport provision. Covid-19 has powerfully reinforced this point for us all. The biggest change in transport patterns in peacetime has not been achieved from within transport. The Government must approach this problem across itself, rather than simply from within its own transport department. HM Treasury, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs in particular hold absolutely key roles in whether transport decarbonisation can be achieved or not. The spiral can either go downwards, whereby the transport department is left to achieve without cross-departmental joint working and inevitably fail under such an intolerable burden; or upward whereby each department is pulling its decarbonising weight. So, that’s what the Government needs to do. But it will need all of us to be doing things differently. Doing this means making the decarbonising choices the easy and cheap ones and the carbonising ones the hard and pricey options. There is an element of regression in using price of course, but the vast majority of consumer purchases are heavily shaped by price so to ignore its power is to doom the attempt. I have written before about going after the lower hanging fruit first on this. This means clusters. Employers are a very obvious one and Government should reset the targets and incentives on them to achieve the behaviour change decarbonisation demands. For our part in shared transport, we contend – on strong evidence – that shared transport can play a significant role in decarbonisation. It is already reducing carbon consumption by thousands of tonnes per year and across car clubs and bike share has over three quarters of a million members. Yet it can go so much further; we have calculated potential savings from switchable households into six figures of annual carbon tonne savings. Government needs to further understand how shared transport can deliver on decarbonisation and set a policy direction for its inclusion in transport decision-making in a sustained way, adopting the five-year rhythm and pipeline now common place in rail, road and walking and cycling. Taking choice and popular options away from people with no substitute is something democratic leaders understandably struggle with. One of the lessons I have drawn from the extreme situation of Covid-19 is that people can and will adapt where there are alternatives, and that many journeys previously deemed necessary have turned out not to be. They will also respond to an immediate threat, and to what Government tells them. It’s hard to know how much of this will apply in more normal times as we continue on our journey to decarbonisation. But some of the impact from lockdown will remain. Am I wrong? I would love to hear your views. What have I missed out? Do get in touch.
Richard Dilks[embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/LTT7806-Mobility-Matters-1.pdf" download="all" viewer="google"]
News - 2 Sep 2020
20 Minute Neighbourhoods
Scotland NewsThe First Minister for Scotland has announced in her Programme for Government that £500m will be invested over the next five years to support active travel and £275m will support investment in communities including ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’ - enabling people to live, learn, and meet their needs within a 20 minute walk of their home.
CoMoUK CommentCOVID-19 has devastated Scotland’s economy and we can’t go back to the old ways of doing things. This announcement from the First Minister is very welcome and will help to deliver a green recovery for Scotland. Shared transport is a key part of active travel, with Scottish towns and cities offering bike hire schemes and car clubs as an alternative to private vehicles, while 20 minute neighbourhoods will also encourage people to walk more – helping to reduce harmful vehicle emissions. As we emerge from the pandemic, we need to take bold action to encourage behavioural change and make sure that we promote green alternatives for post-Covid travel. Lorna Finlayson, Scotland Director CoMoUK
News - 10 Aug 2020
Shared transport solutions for the post-coronavirus commute put to MSPs
CoMoUK has submitted a number of recommendations in response to the Scottish Parliament’s Green Recovery inquiry. New proposals include giving ‘mobility credits’ to people who trade in older, high-polluting cars to be used on public transport or shared initiatives. We have also expressed our desire to see more ambitious targets set by local authorities to reduce ‘grey fleet’ mileage; increased government funding for bike-sharing schemes; and more cash for community groups which want to invest in electric vehicles. Local authorities should also be urged to create ‘low car neighbourhoods’, while developers of new housing estates should be compelled to include shared mobility facilities. And in order to improve health and encourage behaviour change, our response proposes that GPs should consider ‘prescription cycling’ for bike-sharing schemes. Such a move would increase the use and demand of bike-sharing initiatives found in several Scottish cities, and improve the physical and mental health of the nation in the process. Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said: “Shared transport schemes will improve the health of the nation, boost the environment, and help the Scottish Government hit its own net zero targets. But our sector now faces serious challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. “More people are using private cars to get to work, and public transport has suffered a huge drop in use, and therefore income. And while that is all clearly of great concern, this inquiry presents an opportunity to change the way people move around. “These recommendations could make a positive impact on the environment and the quality of life for commuters across the country. We need to see imaginative schemes to encourage behaviour change, and GPs can play their part too by highlighting bike-sharing schemes to improve mental and physical wellbeing.” Read our full submission below. [embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/ECCLR_GR_CFV_COMOUK-07.08.20.pdf" download="all" viewer="browser"]