As the year draws to a close, our policy and comms officer, Laura Hyde-White, takes the opportunity to reflect on Transform’s work and achievements in 2023.
This year, our work has been centred on our five priorities. These call for the right infrastructure and incentives to tackle the climate emergency:
In addition to this, we have continued our work holding the Government to account.
And, we have delivered another successful year of our Lovemybus campaign.
Fair Transport Pricing
We must incentivise public transport over private car use.
Following the publication of our Fair Fares report, which called for more accessible, affordable and simple public transport ticketing, we held a member event at the start of 2023 to discuss the need to rebalance transport pricing.
With speakers from our Austrian counterparts VCÖ and Transport Scotland, we received an update on the Government’s Fair Fares Review and an overview of the impact and challenges of Austria’s introduction of a flat fare public transport card — the Klimaticket.
Zero-Carbon Public Transport
A decarbonised network of buses, trains and ferries must form the backbone of our transport system.
In the spring, we headed to Inverness to bring together our members, local politicians and transport operators to discuss how Scotland can take action on climate and cut emissions from its public transport network. Read more about our trip to the Highlands here.
Noting the need to remove the reliance of our transport systems on heavily polluting and environmentally-degrading fossil fuels, the Cross-Party Group on Sustainable Transport held an inquiry into public transport decarbonisation.
Providing the secretariat to the Group, we prepared the summary report of the inquiry which set out a set of recommendations for the Scottish Government in light of its commitment to be net-zero by 2045.
The railways must carry a far-larger share of Scotland’s long-distance passenger travel and freight movements.
We held a members’ event early in the year with speakers from LNER and Highland Spring outlining the climate case for shifting from air to rail for Anglo-Scottish passenger trips, and for moving goods by rail freight instead of by road.
LNER detailed their success in increasing passenger numbers post-pandemic and Highland Spring detailed the carbon-savings made from their Blackford rail freight facility and operations, with each train taking 22 HGVs off the roads.
This year, we partnered with our European counterparts Transport & Environment for their ‘Travel Smart’ campaign, to scrutinise Scottish companies’ commitments to cutting air travel. We found that two companies headquartered in Scotland – Lloyds Banking Group and Abrdn – feature in the top 10 of 322 businesses ranked by the campaign.
The ranking reviews how companies are performing on their commitments to reduce corporate travel and report air travel emissions.
We must invest in sustainable connectivity within Scotland. In recent decades, capital expenditure priorities have been grotesquely skewed towards high-carbon road-building.
Alongside our AGM in September, we held our ‘Zero-Carbon Investment’ seminar to discuss the climate compatibility of Scotland’s transport spending.
We teased our forthcoming report on the City Region Deals and heard from Transport Action Network who provided insights into the campaigning strategies against road building deployed south of the border.
Safe Places for Active Travel
Walking, wheeling and cycling must be safe, convenient choices for everyone, everywhere.
This December, we published new research in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University, highlighting the case for on-street trials of new zebra-crossing design – inspired by continental Europe.
To discuss the next steps for making these crossings a reality on Scottish streets, we brought together key stakeholders from local authorities and Transport Scotland to discuss the research and hear success stories from Wales and Manchester.
Holding Government to account
Throughout the year, we have been tracking the Government’s progress on its sustainable transport commitments — from electrifying the railways to funding active travel.
In summer, we published our scrutiny of the Government’s progress on sustainable transport in ‘Off Track‘.
The report revealed that, despite some aspects being on track, progress on many commitments has been slow — and some targets are at risk of being missed all together.
In particular, we noted that delays on fair fares threaten Scotland’s most vulnerable passengers.
This year we took the Lovemybus campaign out and about across Scotland to celebrate bus and the vital role it plays in our lives.
The Lovemybus team travelled up and down the country, from Galashiels to Stornoway, to share their enthusiasm for bus travel and show people how to make their journeys by bus.
In total we reached over 250,000 people through all of the events we attended, and directly engaged almost 30,000 people through face-to-face conversations with the Lovemybus team.
Our last big event of the campaign was Scottish Bus Week which was held in May 2023 with multiple events around the country, culminating in a reception and celebration at the Scottish Parliament. Work on the project ended in the summer but watch this space!