News & opinion
Read the latest news from across the whole sector that highlights the development of affordable, accessible and low-carbon shared mobility
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"]
News - 30 Jul 2020
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
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.
- 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.
What it cannot cover
- 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.
EligibilityPlease 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 processTo request an application form, please contact Harriet Cross: Harriet@como.org.uk.
Submission and timescalesThis 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 requirementsIf 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.
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.
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, 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. Reducing private car use is increasingly recognised as fundamental to reducing air pollution and decarbonising for the sake of our climate, with transport now the biggest source of emissions, mostly from cars and vans. 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’. The eight national organisations are highlighting that:
- Buses, trains, minibuses, trams, shared mobility hubs, 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.
- Department for Transport, 2020, ‘£2 billion package to create new era for cycling and walking’
- 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
- 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/
- 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.
- For information on mobility hubs, see https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Mobility-Hub-Guide-241019-final.pdf
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"]
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"]
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"]
[embeddoc url="https://como.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Covid-19-Committee-Letter-FINAL69317.pdf" download="all"]