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Research shows how reducing public transport fares could reduce carbon emissions

8 December 2008
High fares are pricing people off public transport and increasing carbon emissions, according to new research published today by Campaign for Better Transport [1]. The research is timely: the Committee on Climate Change said last week that surface transport must make a significant contribution to tackling climate change.

The research provides evidence that demand for public transport has been suppressed by high fares, suggesting that if fares were reduced by 20%, a level more in line with the European average [2], bus travel would increase by 13% and rail travel by 17% by 2015.

The research shows that reducing bus and rail fares and increasing motoring and aviation taxes could cut carbon emissions from transport by 13% by 2025.

Cat Hobbs, public transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"Train and bus fares keep rising while the overall cost of motoring and the cost of flying keep falling. People want to use public transport, but the Government has to provide financial incentives for making the right choice. It should start by rethinking its rail fares policy and stopping the increases expected on 2 January."

Simon Ellis, Head of Economics at Steer Davies Gleave, the consultancy responsible for the research, said:

"Our work shows that reducing public transport fares while increasing the cost of motoring and air travel could reduce carbon emissions substantially. The price of each kind of transport needs to reflect its impact on climate change if the Government is to encourage people to choose lower carbon modes."


Notes to editors

[1] Transport Costs and Carbon Emissions, December 2008, Steer Davies Gleave, commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport. PDF documents below.

[2] European Best Practice in Delivering Integrated Transport – Commission for Integrated Transport, 2001.

[3] Many people have contacted us to share their views on why affordable rail is vital to them.