Despite the challenges of 2020 and 2021, we have had significant successes, some the result of many years of campaigning.
For some time, we have been highlighting that cleaner vehicles alone will be insufficient to achieve net zero carbon targets. We also need a shift from private cars to public transport, active travel and shared mobility. In spring 2020, in a document that experts called 'amazing' and 'gob-smacking', the Government acknowledged - at last - the need for modal shift.
"Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network."
- Grant Shapps in the foreword to Decarbonising Transport
More than a thousand of our supporters responded to the Government's consultation on decarbonising transport after we alerted and advised them.
Expanding the railways
We are the leading voice calling for a national programme of rail reopenings, including in our major 2019 report, The case for expanding the rail network. In 2020 the Government announced a £500 million fund to explore reopening former rail lines.
Funding towards East West Rail and reopening the Northumberland Line was secured, and regular passenger services will soon be restored to the Dartmoor Line. Horden (County Durham) and Bow Street (near Aberystwyth) stations opened after more than 50 years, the latest to be funded by the New Stations Fund that we suggested and campaigned for. Three further stations are coming soon!
National Bus Strategy
Work by Campaign for Better Transport over 10 years was instrumental in bringing about the National Bus Strategy, Bus Back Better. In 2019, we published a report, The future of the bus, which outlined measures required to overturn the decline in passenger numbers. Bus Back Better contained many of these policies, including:
- More bus priority schemes to speed up journeys
- 4,000 new British-built zero emission buses
- Lower, simpler fares and contactless payments
- A greater role for local authorities in bus planning and delivery.
We welcomed the announcement of a £3 billion fund to support the delivery of the Strategy, and the commitment to reform the Bus Service Operators Grant.
The strategy also recognised that a major barrier to local authorities delivering on its ambitions is the differences in their capacity and capabilities. We are working directly with Government to identify these gaps. We will continue to support local authorities to form meaningful partnerships with bus operators and put together ambitious bus service improvement plans.
Almost 3,000 of our supporters emailed the Chancellor and convinced him to continue recovery funding for bus services until passengers numbers return, saving up to a third of bus routes threatened with closure.
A passenger-focused railway
In 2019, we submitted The future of rail report to the Rail review, calling for passenger needs to be placed at the centre of rail reforms through an overhaul of the fares system and replacing franchises with a more flexible, outcome-based system.
The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail was finally published in May 2021, promising simpler fares, contactless ticketing and better integration between rail and other modes - all things we have called for. There were commitments to short infill electrification and growing the network. We especially welcomed the announcement of a national, smart, flexible season ticket for part-time commuters, which came after years of campaigning by Campaign for Better Transport.
We championed active travel and public transport, in tandem with shared mobility and cleaner vehicles, as the best hope of cleaning up our polluted air.
We suggested the idea of all-electric bus cities in 2019; in 2021 Coventry and Oxford were chosen to be the first of these.
We welcomed the Government’s ambitious Cycling and Walking Plan, and trials of e-scooters in towns and cities across the country. And the Government brought forward the end date of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, expediting plans for electrification.
Our Connecting Communities report on transport in ‘left-behind’ neighbourhoods led the buses minister to promise new guidance for local authorities on supporting socially and economically necessary local bus services, recognising the link between connectivity and unemployment.