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Read the latest news from across the whole sector that highlights the development of affordable, accessible and low-carbon shared mobility

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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"]
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News - 30 Jul 2020

Northern Lights

Read Richard Dilks' latest Local Transport Today article.

  Ever feel yourself caught between the rock of current, sub-optimal reality and the hard place of just what different might sensibly look like at scale? Wondering what the art and science of the possible is in pivoting a country’s transport around? Us too. We recently published a fascinating piece of work that looks at the need for Scotland to cut transport emissions and the role of shared transport in doing that. I sometimes feel that shared transport suffers from the too-good-to-be-true syndrome. Challenging an orthodoxy can be like that. So bear with me if you react with any incredulity to some of our findings. They are extrapolations – they have to be, for if the Scotland we depict existed we would not have needed to do the work – but ones based on the latest iteration of a back catalogue of years of research and analysis, the best available public data and sensible assumptions. The backdrop is one familiar from the rest of the UK in most part. Transport has the largest carbon emissions of any sector (37 per cent of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions). The largest source of these emissions within transport is cars. These cars are mostly private cars, and they are highly inefficiently used. So far, so familiar. The policy backdrop is more assertive than south of the border, with the Scottish Government making it policy that the solution is not just about cleaner cars, but also fewer of them. The sale of new petrol and diesel cars there will stop in 2032. Net zero must be met by 2045. At this point we doff the cap to the Scottish Government for part- funding this work through its Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund, alongside the EU ‘Share North’ programme that CoMoUK is part of. We have worked in Scotland for almost a decade now, and it has been heartening to see the growth of shared transport in that time. It has also been heartening to see shared transport pivot into action for key worker journeys during lockdown, and for bikeshare schemes to see sharply increased usage as the Scottish lockdown has eased. However, the changes we are talking about are nonetheless dramatic. Just as they are south of the border. Let’s not get too scared though – shared transport is here to help, exploiting the startling inefficiencies of only using a private ownership model. Singular silver bullets, as ever, need not apply. So ‘shared transport’ is not one weapon to bring to the fight, but an arsenal in itself. Other arsenals – private cycling, walking, public trans- port – are critical to this too. But let’s drill into shared transport here, still an area of opportunity that does not get enough attention. We already know about the positive impacts shared transport has in Scotland from our latest research of 2019/20 in car club and bike share. For example, car club users got rid of 6,700 privately owned vehicles, while 52 per cent of bike share users reported exercise and health benefits with 36 per cent of them using their car much less. For this report, however, we used what we know of user behaviour and fleet emissions; and then pulled in relevant public domain datasets such as the Census and Scottish Household Survey. For car clubs, we then looked at households that owned at least one car and yet where the characteristics of the household are such that the car trips could be fulfilled by a car club. This identified no fewer than 643,000 households. Switching them would save 87,000 tonnes of carbon per year through reduced mileage and the cleaner vehicles in car club fleets. These are the sorts of scales we need to be aiming at with transport decarbonisation, not a couple of percentage points here or there. Turning to 2+ car sharing, we found that fully 49 per cent of commuter car trips in Scotland could be shared. That would save even more carbon (135,000 tonnes per year), based on all those currently driving to work in Scotland sharing the trip with one other person. Bike sharing offers the potential to switch out the 5km (three mile) or shorter car trips across Scotland to cycling, saving another 64,000 tonnes of carbon without all those participating needing to buy, maintain or store their own bike. Of course these figures cannot be wholly accurate, as they seek to measure something that does not yet exist at this scale. But they are based on the best available evidence and on sensible extrapolations from that evidence. Prizes of this size surely merit further attention. How do we get to achieving them? Well, again, no one measure is going to be sufficient. It will take a collection of them. Let us at least identify the categories they fall under. Rethinking sustainable transport funding, incentivisation and taxation. We accept that taxpayer subsidy should go into public transport, in other words that some parts of it are commercially viable and some are not. We accept that it is desirable to invest in walking and cycling although these bring very limited direct revenue back to the public purse. We should also accept that if we want shared transport to serve areas that are not commercially viable – but do not give it any subsidy – then it will not serve those areas. A more blended approach would see significant upturns in the number of people using shared transport and turning away from the private car, as I hope I have illustrated above is possible. We accept that public transport does not pay VAT; what about shared transport? In tackling emissions we must think avoid, shift and improve, i.e. travel less full stop; emit less when we do by shifting mode; and improve the emissions of a polluting mode if we cannot shift from it. This is not just about taxpayer subsidy or about vehicle or mobility device technology. Incentives carry great power – which is why employers should be measured on employee transport emissions to, for and from work. Turning to the built environment, mainstreaming shared transport in national and local planning policy is a mixture of carrot (designing in sustainable transport of all kinds in higher-quality places) and stick (designing out private car parking and access) and it’s vital. Good data is also necessary, but not sufficient. It is the analysis of data that has potential power, and the change in policy and practice informed by that analysis that has actual power. We have moments coming up in our calendar, opportunities, to press this case: the Budget, the Spending Review, spring 2021 elections, potential legislation on micromobility (which I think should be drawn more widely as a Modern Sustainable Transport Bill), COP26, and before all of those a Government decarbonisation challenge that I encourage every reader to respond to. I am a massive Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister fan. I have in these pages previously drawn a parallel between transport emissions and smoking. In the Yes Prime Minister episode about cigarettes (aptly called ‘The Smoke Screen’), a reforming minister (also a doctor) proposes a package of measures that aims to cut smoking by 80 per cent (“perhaps 90 per cent if we’re lucky”, says the minister with a gleam in his eye). I remember seeing this episode as a child (more about my upbringing another time!) and the measures made an impact on me then for how radical they were: banning advertising and sponsorship (then widespread, since banned); a multi-million pound anti-smoking campaign (done many times, perhaps even more impactful are those hideous images of negative health impacts from smoking that every packet now carries); aggressive tax rises over five years so that a packet of 20 costs the same as a bottle of whisky (not quite achieved – the whisky is still more expensive – but not far off, took longer than five years). In other words what seemed fantastical at the time – and draws both audience laughter and prime ministerial dithering due to the tax revenue and other implications in the episode – has turned into a pretty accurate description of current policy. Smoking has fallen by 60 per cent since that episode first aired. The lesson being that what might seem a touch fantastical today can become the new normal tomorrow. Richard Dilks, CoMoUK DOWNLOAD PDF  
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News - 9 Jul 2020

Shared Transport for Communities: Scottish Micro-Grants 2020

In 2020/21, CoMoUK has funding to offer micro-grants of up to £2,500 to established Scottish community groups setting-up a new shared transport scheme – either bike share, car share or ride share. The aim of the fund is to support organisations to set up the sharing of assets. It has been identified there are various funding streams available for cars and bikes, but setting up the sharing element of these is not always included.  

Who can apply?

  • Third sector organisations, social enterprises, and established community groups.
  • An organisation can only apply for one grant.
  • The applicant should be able to demonstrate they are beyond the initial start-up phase of the scheme. For example, they have other funding streams in place to run the scheme.
  • The organisation and new shared transport scheme must be located in Scotland.
 

What can the grant be spent on?

Micro-grants should be used to help facilitate the sharing of assets, this includes, but not limited to, the following examples:
  • Specific equipment to facilitate the sharing aspect of the scheme - for example telematics / back office software for car sharing schemes.

GUIDANCE DOCUMENT

  • Examples for bike share projects include software or equipment that helps with the actual sharing of the project – e.g. subscriptions to smart phone sharing apps.
  • Promotional materials to help brand and advertise the scheme.
CoMoUK will assess applications on a case by case basis, so if your idea isn’t listed above, please contact CoMoUK to discuss your proposal. Where the cost is incurred monthly (i.e. some telematics systems have a monthly fee), CoMoUK will cover the cost for 12 months, up to a maximum £2,500 (including any set up costs).  

What it cannot cover

  • Salaries
  • Overheads
  • Feasibility work
  • Costs for an existing scheme
  • Costs that can be funded via other Transport Scotland funds, i.e. electric vehicles, ebikes, ebike storage etc.
 

Eligibility

Please check the following to ensure you match the eligibility criteria:
  • You are a registered organisation (funds cannot be paid to an individual).
  • Your aims are to establish and promote the use of shared transport in your area.
  • You have a project plan in place for your shared transport project.
  • The project will be launched within 6 months of the grant being awarded.
  • You have a viable business plan for the scheme.
  • The organisation and new scheme are based in Scotland.
 

Application process

To request an application form, please contact Harriet Cross: Harriet@como.org.uk.  

Submission and timescales

This is an ongoing fund and awards will be made on a rolling basis. The last deadline for application will be 30th December 2020. Funds must be committed no later than 31st March 2021. You will be notified within two weeks of us receiving your completed application. If we require more information, we will contact you within this time. we may require more information in that time.  

Reporting requirements

If successful, you will be required to send receipts of expenditure within 8 weeks of receiving the grant. You will also be required to complete and return a short report detailing progress (template will be provided) within 6 months of receiving the fund.
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News - 28 Jun 2020

Free bike share in Scottish cities as lockdown eases

Free bike share will be provided in Edinburgh and Glasgow from today (MON) to encourage people to consider cycling for everyday journeys.

  Through Scottish Government funding, the cycle share initiative comes into effect as more COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, easing pressure on public transport and helping those who don’t own a bike or have anywhere to store one. More than 1,300 cycles located at nearly 200 bike stations will be available for free hire in the cities for the first 30-minutes of every journey. Bikes can play an increasingly important role in Scotland’s green recovery by providing an alternative to private car journeys, helping manage demand on public transport, as well as benefiting health and the environment.
  • In Glasgow, the first 30 minutes of standard cycle hire will be at no cost to the hirer for the next eight weeks, and this will be extended to 60 minutes for existing subscribers – with no limit on the number of times the offer can be used.
  • In Edinburgh, the first 30 minutes of bike hire on pedal bikes will be free for the next 14 days. The usual per-minute charge is 10p. Access fees for e-bikes will also be free, although usage will incur the usual per-minute charge. Edinburgh also plans to release a new four-month discounted pass from July 13 to encourage long-term uptake of cycling.
The collaboration is being led by the charity CoMoUK which promotes the use of shared transport, and is funded by Transport Scotland through the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme managed by the charity Paths for All. The scheme is in partnership with Glasgow City Council, Transport for Edinburgh, and bike share operators nextbike in Glasgow and Serco in Edinburgh. Glasgow’s cycle hire scheme was launched in 2014, with nextbike currently making 800 bikes for hire across 79 city locations. In Edinburgh, over 500 ‘Just Eat’ bikes are available for hire, with 107 stations across the capital. Both cities have created more cycle lane space in response to the coronavirus pandemic through Scottish Government funding, and bike share operators are undertaking enhanced cleaning regimes, regularly cleaning handlebars and keypads. The free trips will be available to anyone, for any type of journey, and can be used for exercise, shopping and commuting to work. Bikes can be hired on a ‘pay as you go’ basis or by subscription, with registration via app or website. Today marks the next step in Phase 2 of the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 route map, with indoor non-office workplaces and street-access retail resuming once relevant guidance is implemented. As more lockdown restrictions are eased, analysis shows that up to 55 per cent of employees could be travelling to their normal workplace, a rise from 30 per cent in full lockdown. That could result in an increase in the number of passengers on public transport by around by a third from current levels of 225,000 per day. Transport Scotland continues to ask people to stay local where possible and to walk, wheel or cycle in order to manage demand on the public transport network and to protect our environment. Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I’m pleased we can offer free access to bikes in Glasgow and Edinburgh through our support of the Smarter Choices Smarter Places programme. We’ve seen increased rates of cycling and increased use of our public hire bicycle schemes across the lockdown period and this offer will help maintain this shift in travel behaviour at a critical time in our COVID-19 response. “By offering free 30-minute trips, in conjunction with temporary infrastructure in Glasgow and Edinburgh, we can greatly incentivise more sustainable everyday journeys in Phases 2 and 3 of the Scottish Government route map. “For people in our two biggest cities, this initiative will benefit our health, our environment and will help to manage demand on our public transport network.” Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said: “Investment in cycling capacity and infrastructure is vitally important, however we want to make sure that everyone, from all walks of life, can benefit. “As bike share is accessible, affordable and flexible it can play an increasingly important role in Scotland’s green recovery by providing an alternative to private car journeys and helping to ease pressure on public transport.” Councillor Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, said: “This free hire initiative will help to encourage people who perhaps haven’t considered cycling before to give it a try. “Having 30 minutes of free travel every time will let people see for themselves that it’s a convenient, healthy and environmentally positive way to travel around our city centre and neighbourhoods. “We’ve recently seen the popularity of cycling swell, and as lockdown restrictions are relaxed we’re keen to maintain this mode of travel as an attractive, safe, long-term transport choice for everyday journeys.” Councillor Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council transport and environment convener, said:  “We’re delighted to be able to offer free trips on our hire bikes. More and more people are making healthy, sustainable choices about how they travel around our capital city and this substantial offer will make it even easier and more attractive for more people enjoy cycling, including by e-bikes. Use of the cycle hire scheme has leapt in Edinburgh over recent months, along with cycling in general, which is very good news for the city and our residents. “We’re implementing significant changes across the city to help people walk and cycle safely while observing physical distancing. Our additional offer of a discounted four-month bike hire membership will help many more people take advantage of these improvements as we emerge from lockdown.” Ian Findlay CBE, chief officer at Paths for All, said: “Having Scotland’s two largest cities running an initiative like this at the same time is hugely significant and sends a very clear message about the importance of a green recovery. “It’s also the largest public bike hire scheme that our Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme has ever supported so we hope as many people as possible will take advantage of this project and realise the many benefits of active travel.” ENDS NOTES TO EDITORS The operators recommend that customers wear gloves when using the bikes, as well as washing hands before and after use. As we ease from the current restrictions in how we work, socialise and access services, work is ongoing to provide a safe transport system to meet the needs of the country. The focus is to ensure Scotland can keep on moving, whilst continuing to supress the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Read more at www.transport.gov.scot/TransportTransitionPlan CoMoUK is a charity that promotes the environmental, economic, health and social benefits of shared transport for the public good. More information available here: https://como.org.uk/ More information on Paths for All is available here: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/ Details on Glasgow’s cycle hire scheme available here: www.glasgow.gov.uk/cycling Details on Edinburgh’s cycle hire scheme available here: https://edinburghcyclehire.com/ The discounted pass will be available from the 13th July, with additional information (including pricing) set for release next week. Edinburgh plans to launch the scheme on Monday afternoon at 3pm, and this will be announced over social media channels and via the app.
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News - 16 Jun 2020

Public and shared transport, together with walking and cycling, central to a green and inclusive recovery, say charities

As lockdown restrictions begin to be eased, with many people starting to travel again, an alliance of charities and NGOs is highlighting the importance of public, community and shared transport, combined with walking and cycling, to our communities’ recovery, and their health, wellbeing and environment.

  The organisations are underlining that we are at a critical juncture with transport and travel, with a chance to reset transport priorities, putting people’s communities, health and wellbeing, and our environment, at the forefront. With efforts underway across Britain to develop space and facilities for walking and cycling,[1] the group is reminding of the importance of linking these improvements with public, community and shared transport connections, to lock-in longer term benefits for all.   Evidence shows that individuals, families and communities across Britain depend on public, community and shared transport, alongside walking and cycling, for their health, wellbeing and prosperity. A third of people – including many young, marginalised and vulnerable people – don’t have personal access to a car.[2] Reducing private car use is increasingly recognised as fundamental to reducing air pollution and decarbonising for the sake of our climate,[3] with transport now the biggest source of emissions, mostly from cars and vans.[4]   The Department for Transport recently published a report and call for evidence on Decarbonising Transport, with an aspiration to make ‘public transport and active travel… the natural first choice for our daily activities’.[5]   The eight national organisations are highlighting that:
  • Buses, trains, minibuses, trams, shared mobility hubs,[6] and walking and cycling paths and facilities have continued to be crucial through the pandemic, for moving keyworkers and goods, and keeping us well and connected;
  • While social distancing is posing challenges now for transport operators, moving forward, public, community and shared transport, combined with active travel, will be doubly important;
  • A sustainable, inclusive transport network will enable us to reduce private car use and decarbonise transport, to tackle the increasingly urgent climate emergency, and create stronger, healthier, happier communities, with less pollution and more equal access to opportunity.
  Richard Dilks, Chief Executive, CoMoUK, says: “We are asking local, regional, devolved and national governments, and our partners within transport and within communities, to work with us, to make this a reality. We are at a critical point: now is the time to ensure we have our transport priorities right, based on health and wellbeing, our communities and environment, and ensure we take the sustainable and inclusive path forward.”   Darren Shirley, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Together, our organisations are offering support and expertise, to work with governments and authorities, partners and communities, to forge a more sustainable and inclusive transport future.”   Claire Walters, Chief Executive, Bus Users UK, said: “Public, community and shared transport, alongside and connected with walking and cycling, must be safeguarded, celebrated and developed, to ensure everyone can access sustainable mobility in the future. Evidence shows that this is crucial, for health and wellbeing, community cohesion and resilience, our climate and sustainable development – and for creating the future we all want.”   Jools Townsend, Chief Executive, Community Rail Network, said: “Our organisations are working together to support and empower communities, and advise transport partners and authorities, on Covid-19 recovery and the vital role transport has to play. We want to help pave the way to achieving climate-safe, healthy, inclusive transport for all, which is more important now than ever.”   Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy and Communications, Living Streets, said: “This is about recognising the huge benefits for our communities, our local places and global environments, of reducing private car use, and enabling everyone to get around by healthy, community-minded and environmentally-responsible means. We have a major opportunity at the moment to connect up improvements to walking and cycling with public, shared and community transport, and great gains to be made from this.”   Notes to editors:   The eight organisations collaborating as part of a sustainable and inclusive travel alliance are: Bus Users UK,  Campaign for Better Transport, CoMoUK, Community Rail Network, Community Transport Association, Greener Journeys, Living Streets, Sustrans.   Their joint position statement can be found in full here.     For media enquiries, comments and interviews, contact Kathryn Shaw at Living Streets on kathryn.shaw@livingstreets.org.uk / 07545 209865.
  1. Department for Transport, 2020, ‘£2 billion package to create new era for cycling and walking’
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-billion-package-to-create-new-era-for-cycling-and-walking
  1. NatCen and University of West England, 2019, Access to transport and life opportunities https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/831766/access_to_transport_report.pdf
  2. For example, see House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, 2019, Clean Growth, https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/news-parliament-2017/clean-growth-report-published-17-19/
  3. Department for Transport, 2020, Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878642/decarbonising-transport-setting-the-challenge.pdf.
  4. ibid
  5. For information on mobility hubs, see https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Mobility-Hub-Guide-241019-final.pdf

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News - 13 Jun 2020

Lets hear it for e-scooters

Read Richard Dilks latest Local Transport Today article.       [embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/LTT800-June2020.pdf" download="all"]
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News - 4 May 2020

How can Planning support modal shift in new housing development in Scotland

Read our own Marian discussing the benefits of shared transport in new housing developments in Scotland. [embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Scottish-Planner-Marian.pdf" download="all"]
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News - 28 Apr 2020

CoMoUK Response to Scottish Covid-19 Committee

We have written to the Scottish Parliament’s new Covid-19 Committee detailing what the shared transport sector is doing to help key workers leading the fight against coronavirus, and highlighted the potential role the sector can play in retaining and enhancing some of the environmental gains that we’ve seen as a result of the lockdown. You can read the full text of the letter below.
[embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Covid-19-Committee-Letter-FINAL69317.pdf" download="all"]
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