The UK has a fairly comprehensive network of shared public transport options, but not everyone will find themselves living right next to a bus stop, and they probably won’t find every destination they wish to travel to also conveniently located by a stop they can alight at. In the 2014 Active Travel Survey, walking was recorded as a ‘stage’ (where there is a change in the mode of transport) in around 1/3 of bus trips.
It’s more than fair to say that a bus journey, by its very nature, is also an active travel journey – and that’s a really good thing! Travelling actively to and from a bus stop doesn’t just get you there – it comes with physical and mental health benefits. Public Health England recommends adults undertake 30 minutes of moderate activity, five days per week. A third of UK adults don’t manage this, but for millions of people, it could be achieved by re-thinking the way they travel and incorporating less door-to-door car journeys and more bus journeys (and the active travel stages that come with them).
An additional benefit in making fewer car journeys is the improvement to air quality and the environment around us, and in 2020 the Climate Change Committee recognised active travel as an essential element of the transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
Passenger wants to make sustainable travel options the first choice – and began incorporating features supporting active travel stages into their Premium products in August 2019.
It’s universally accepted that positive reinforcement encourages the upkeep of habits. Digital tools such as step trackers or money-saving apps that chart and reward progress can help achieve goals and change habits – and the Passenger platform shows users the benefits and impact of their travel choices.
Showing users their walking distances in steps (in addition to minutes) reinforces that active travel contributes to daily exercise targets, just as displaying co2 savings made when using shared transport over a private car, gives context to the positive environmental impact of their choice.
Passenger Premium Journey Planners estimate steps in the active stages of a journey and the Explore Map shows the average number of steps in various radius’ according to time, giving users the information they need to plan their routes.
Walking isn’t the only way to actively travel, so Passenger integrates shared active travel schemes into their apps and websites where possible, such as nextbike (in Cardiff) and Beryl (in Bournemouth). This gives users more options when planning journeys and helps to bridge the first- and last-mile gaps which can be a barrier to choosing to leave a car at home.
Electric bikes and e-scooters are also becoming a more frequent sight on the roads – especially here in Bournemouth – where the town is trialling a shared e-scooter rental scheme by provider Beryl. While e-scooters and bikes don’t offer the physical benefit of walking or cycling, they are an intriguing additional travel choice. Offering another mode for first- and last- miles journeys can help increase the overall uptake of public transport, and by reducing car journeys, contribute to less congestion and improved air quality in urban areas.
By facilitating change and encouraging responsible travel choices, we will all benefit from significant collective improvements – for communities, environmentally, economically and individually.
In the words of Passenger CEO Tom Quay, “It’s time to embed positive behaviour changes. There’s an incredible opportunity to build back better, avoid a car-led recovery after the pandemic and empower more people every day to choose shared public transport options. The benefits are right there in front of us, and they benefit everyone. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen how much things can change. It’s time to empower people to choose shared public transport and put down their car keys for good”.