I was intrigued this week when my beady eye read a recent report that claimed Britain needs to seriously up its game if it is to catch up with European counterparts, according to the rather prestigious Centre for Cities Think Tank.
It seems that in the UK, we have significantly fewer people using buses, trams, and trains when compared with cities across Europe, and it would need almost a million new passengers a year (963,000 to be precise). The reasons for this imbalance can be traced back to the end of the Second World War when large parts of Europe were devastated. As a result, grown-up countries created a much greater relationship between creating positive public transport networks that were not controlled by political dogmas but by having a consistent process of investment and priority.
Something that, actually, we in good old Blighty have not done since the Second World War—until maybe recently, since the pandemic elevated the status of the bus to keep the nation moving. To be fair to Boris, he did back the bus with bucks to keep it going.
Some interesting comparisons have emerged from the report. In Manchester only 16% of residents commute to work on public transport. In Birmingham, only 18% of residents commute. Compare this with European cities of a similar size, like Hamburg, which has 40% of commuters using public transport, and Lyon, which has 33%; these two cities are of a similar size to their UK neighbors. It confirms the discrepancy and how we need to fill the gap if we are to compete to achieve our desires to reduce our carbon emissions and make our cities cleaner, greener, and healthier for future generations.
This report published in partnership with the Go Ahead Group with a report called Gear Shift, international lessons for increasing public transport ridership in UK cities. They suggest that the gap is due to the smaller average transport network size and less dense residential neighborhoods in the UK cities, indicating they will need help in achieving this noble ambition.
It also points out that there are far less car journeys done in Europe than in the UK thanks to the greater significance of good public transport networks compared to the UK. An example is Liverpool which if it was to perform against a city of similar size like Liepzig, there would have to be 33,000 fewer journeys by car, a reduction of 20%.
Some serious food for thought, if we are be competing with our European friends then we need a serious change of heart. But that is exactly what uTrack believes we need. We are serious in our intention to help transform travel, something that we have been passionate about for over a decade.
Making operational excellence the standard across the transport industry.