There has long been an unreasonable societal perception that bus travel is something to be left behind as soon as your financial circumstances allow, leading many to conclude that they are too good for this mode of transport.
But things are changing. Now, thanks to the public’s waking environmental conscience, there’s a turning tide that is seeing the ill-placed snobbery that was once directed towards bus travel shift to those who use their cars frequently, for unnecessary journeys.
Poor air quality in major cities coupled with an exponential rise in petrol prices means the car is starting to lose its place as a status symbol and is increasingly being recognised as an ungreen and, in many cases, unnecessary transport choice.
Today, on World Car Free Day, we must recognise that if we each made small, conscious decisions to take the bus to town, or to the shop, or to see a friend that little bit more, together we could transform our city’s congestion, air and noise pollution. Because bus travel doesn’t just have the potential to benefit our pockets and the environment – it can transform our public spaces, too.
There are so many benefits to bus travel – no parking hassle, an easy-to-use, reliable service and saving money in a cost of living crisis to name but a few. Investment in enhanced technology also means users now have more control of their journey through real-time travel updates, tracking facilities, contactless payments and much more. And it’s now greener than ever as we invest millions in electric and hydrogen-powered buses across Scotland.
Think back to the commitments made almost a year ago at COP26 in Glasgow, where we set out our ambitions for the future of public transport and the role it has to play in meeting our collective climate challenge targets. It’s time we get back to thinking of the bigger picture.
No rush hours, a service that runs like clockwork, cleaner air, quieter, calmer streets, and more money in your back pocket. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? We need a collective effort and a continued shift in attitudes to make the journey, but these are all prospects that aren’t so far out of reach.
So next time you’re about pick your car keys up before you leave the house, just stop and think for a second about the opportunities that a switch to bus could bring to the make-up and liveability of our towns, cities and planet.
Duncan Cameron is Managing Director at First Bus
You can read the full piece and other industry insights at The Herald.