Green grow the buses-oh?!: why don't people think public transport is environmentally friendly?


C Ferrary

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

policy - environment, mode - bus


It is almost an article of faith for environmental groups and many transport professionals that public transport is more environmentally-friendly than the private car. Yet the public doggedly refuse to patronlse buses and trains on these grounds. Even worse, proposals for new public transport infrastructure and initiatives often elicit as adverse responses from the public as new road proposals. So where is it all going wrong? People's direct experience of public transport and the way it is provided leads to their diffident attitude. For every passenger who tides on Manchester or Sheffield's smart, quiet and efficient new trams, many more stand freezing at bus stops until an elderly, smoky and rattling Routemaster turns up. Similarly, people being kept awake in Wapping as the Docklands "Light" Railway trundles noisily past their fiats on an ageing Victorian viaduct are unlikely to be caught up in the enthusiasm for new tramways around the UK. This paper puts forward a comprehensive approach to considering how to improve the "Green" image of public transport through its planning, but more importantly through its operation. Utilising new technologies provides some of" the answers, but some fundamental questions about the ways in which public transport operations are organism and managed need to be addressed if buses, trains and trams are to play a fuller role in achieving a comprehensive and sustainable transport policy in the UK.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.