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How to achieve greener, affordable transport

Words by Smiley Team

The M25 motorway circling London contributes significantly to pollution in the capital. However, few may realise that if it was not for campaigners, that problem could have been triple the size.

Founded in 1973, Campaign for Better Transport – or Transport 2000 as it was then known – successfully dissuaded the government from building a ring of three motorways around London. Their efforts forced the issue of road pollution into public awareness and convinced the authorities to drop plans drawn up in the 1960s.

Despite their success, the campaign group could see broader issues with the UK’s transport network and resolved to continue their efforts to create greener, cleaner and more affordable transport across the country.

Alice Ridley of Campaign for Better Transport tells Smiley News: “First and foremost, the campaign became about promoting public and sustainable forms of transport above driving, with the view that driving isn't the best way to get around.”

Through its work, the group aim to improve both social and environmental well-being. They collaborate with the government and local authorities to encourage people out of highly polluting cars and into greener, cleaner, more affordable and efficient means of public transport. 

“A good public transport network has huge benefits for the country. It helps the economy, it connects people to jobs, and it reduces the environmental impacts of transport,” Alice explains.

[Read about other positive initiatives working towards better industry, infrastructure and innovation]

Since its victory against the London Ringways, the group has had several positive breakthroughs. Thanks to their efforts, Oxford and Coventry will start a transition towards becoming the UK’s first all-electric bus cities. They also convinced the government to pay more attention to local transport networks, offering people in rural areas more reliable public transport options with a strategy to improve bus services across England.

Today the group continues this work, envisioning a better-connected society, where people can get around smoothly at costs they can afford and without causing harm to the environment or people’s health.

Alice describes how that would look: “In an ideal world, we would have a well connected, affordable public transport system in which buses link up with the rail network that you can catch a bus or train station on time, you can cycle to the station, leave your bike there safely, and there's plenty of pedestrian access.”

Despite the campaign’s successes, there’s still much work to be done. Most urban areas in the UK experience an illegal level of pollution with tragic health implications, transport contributes to nearly a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions, and public transport in some UK cities is the most expensive in Europe.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Help transform the UK’s transport system for the betterment of society and the environment. Donate to Campaign for Better Transport.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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