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News & opinion

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 - 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.
  If you are interested in getting more advice or support on shared transport, please contact the Scottish team.

Get in touch!

 

Scottish Micro-Grants 2020

In 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.

Shared transport Micro-Grants

Forums

CoMoUK 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.
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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.

FFLECSI Service

The areas covered are designed to include key destinations such as hospitals and supermarkets. We believe on-demand buses would be one way to help Scottish communities which have been cut-off following service reductions across the country, both in cities and rural areas, and ongoing concerns about the affordability of subsidised routes. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, bus travel was in decline, with the number of people using that mode of transport falling by around 100 million since 2008. With many services currently struggling to attract passengers, now is considered the moment to introduce new schemes and assist operators. The proposal is contained in evidence submitted to the Holyrood committee’s call for views on the implications of Covid-19 in relation to funding for connectivity. We have also urged the Scottish Government to back more car-sharing and bike-sharing initiatives, and create mobility hubs across the country where various forms of shared transport could come together. That would have a positive impact on the environment and would boost people’s physical and mental health while saving on household incomes. Our research into the potential scale and benefits of shared transport in Scotland showed that there are 634,000 households in Scotland that could potentially switch from car ownership to car club membership. This would save 87,000 tonnes of carbon per year through reduced mileage and the cleaner vehicles in car club fleets. Bike sharing offers the potential to switch short car trips of 5km or less to cycling, saving another 64,000 tonnes of carbon per year without all those participating needing to buy, maintain or store their own bike. Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said: “When we emerge from the devastating coronavirus crisis, there are a number of options to change the way people travel for the better. “That includes initiatives like bike-sharing which improves mental and physical health, and car-sharing which cuts down on carbon emissions and saves users huge amounts of money. “But there’s also the chance to think outside the box, and a flexible on-demand bus system could be of huge benefit. “It would match up the increasingly empty spaces on buses with the very people who need those services, at the time they need them. “People in urban and rural areas whose services may have been reduced or removed altogether could use technology to ‘order’ a bus, which could then be used right across their community. “This is up-and-running elsewhere in the UK, and we’d like to see MSPs investigate the possibility for it to work here. “We are at a critical point with public services funding and the need for a greener environment. “We should use this moment to embed the shifting attitudes and commuter behaviour which occurred during lockdown to erode the dominance of the private car and pursue a sustainable, inclusive and affordable transport system which benefits everyone.” [embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/RECC_COMOUK.pdf"]
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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"]
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News - 9 Sep 2020

Decarbonisation: cutting
 edge ideas from the past

READ RICHARD DILKS’ LATEST LOCAL TRANSPORT TODAY ARTICLE
  Decarbonisation? 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"]
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News - 2 Sep 2020

20 Minute Neighbourhoods

Scotland News

The 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 Comment

COVID-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
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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 or car 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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