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Friday, 27 November 2009

It's not easy being green

In about 1850 the principals of the five main horse bus companies in London were women but for much of the time since then our industry has been dominated by men. Interesting given that there are fewer men in the UK's population than women and that the latter (probably) are a larger share of our passengers.

In FirstGroup we actually run contrary to the industry trend since the Managing Directors of our bus and rail businesses are women - Nicola Shaw for bus and Mary Grant for rail. Nicola gave a speech at this week's Transport Times conference and made a clear point about the effects of the continued march of Euro-engine requirements. Comparing our Euro V standards with pre-Euro, they emit 1/30th of the particulates and 1/4 of the NOx. Improvements from here on in are very marginal and probably very expensive. Do we really want to continue on this road given now a huge focus on carbon reduction much of which can be achieved by modal shift and energy saving measures?

Take a look at for how the industry is planning to work together to reduce the total of carbon emissions. Our own DriveGreen programme, in which drivers are encouraged to use less fuel by smoother driving, monitored on board, is already delivering actual fuel savings.

In short the less fuel we all use the longer it will last and the lower amount of carbon will be generated.

I am fascinated when talking to people from other walks of life just how car dependent they are. I actually don't see my car (we only have one) from Sunday to Saturday and there are few places in the UK where I need to go that are not accessible by public transport (which, of course, must include some taxis in difficult places). In fact my thought process automatically starts with public transport.

However very many other people I meet socially cannot believe this and their natural 'first response' is using their car. I should say this reaction is much worse outside London than inside. Indeed in many of our towns, cities and suburbs, it seems there is often one car per adult in the household - at least two, if not three or four. And our non-London friends appear to have no comprehension of the public transport options available to them.

I fear many have become so reliant on their personal transport we may never tempt them back - but we certainly have to try!

One from my traffic signs collection - as you can see vehicles wider the 15' are banned from this road. Since the legal limit is just over 8' if you see anything vaguely likely to contravene this please let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Having been outbid in my attempt to buy a copy of "Know thine enemy" on Ebay I can't quote from it, but it is a copy of a paper given by a senior member of LT staff 40-50 years ago about the same problem. The economy of too many of our towns has become reliant on the car. Whilst a supermarket may negotiate with town planners about access and congestion, how many of them are obliged to become involved with the use of public transport? It is not just car drivers who need a complete rethink but also those who plan.
    You are fortunate, Leon, that your lifestyle allows you to use so much public transport. Yes I do feel guilty, living in my "Clean & Green" borough on the edge of South East London, when taking members of my family by car. We do use public transport where possible to work and school, but there are times when society's dependence on the car forces one into private transport.
    Your roadsign is fascinating. It looks like it is in the City of London. Some of the strange vehicles that take over streets at night and the weekends are rather large. Perhaps it is intended for them.