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  • Gareth Davies

Are Electric Buses a Success? October 2020

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

In terms of reducing emissions the answer is yes. There is no doubt that the quick phasing out of the diesel engine bus is an essential part of the plan to de-carbonise transport. But there is more to electric buses than just this. There is the hope that electric will make buses more attractive to the traveller than using the car, thus reducing congestion and making our cities, towns and villages more pleasant places to live, visit and work in.

But this is a big hope. To attract people out of their cars the bus has to offer a number of distinct advantages, the main ones being high frequency, low cost and quick uninterrupted journey times. Of these the last is perhaps the most significant. To be able to board a bus that will get you to the town or city centre in half the time that it would take by car is imperative.

Is this possible to achievable? Only if the electric bus is part an overall package of bus public transport measures that include:

  • Extensive city bus priority infrastructure including bus lanes along main radial routes and responders that activate traffic lights in favour of the bus.

  • Attractive, safe and well-lit bus stops and bus termini/interchanges.

  • Flexibility and ease of interchange between services and other public transport modes such as trains.

  • Real time electronic bus information.

  • Ticketing systems that are flexible across all operators in the network.

  • Ease of ticket purchase and low pricing.

  • Active marketing of services which could include linked ticket and retail/leisure offers.

  • A car parking policy that makes it easier and cheaper to use the bus than the car.

The biggest question of all remains, can this be achieved in Hereford and the five market towns?

The recent vociferous criticism by motorists of cycle lane introductions in Hereford appears to have put a damper on the move to address climate change by influencing transport mode changes. Even the Minister of Transport seems somewhat confused as to what road space should be allocated to what mode; the car, the bus or active travel. The recent conflicting messages from the Department of Transport do nothing to assist the move to de-carbonise transport. But then, has the Department not realised that You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.

Firm directives are demanded and kept to, not U-turns at every corner.

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