Tag Archives: transport

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is a good start, but more is needed to make transport genuinely green

Last week, the government published its strategy for a greener transport system, the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which has been welcomed for new policies on electric vehicles and a significant positive shift in tone around cycling, walking and public transport. While it also recognises the many benefits that come from making transport greener – healthier lifestyles, savings for consumers and hundreds of thousands of new jobs – what will this plan actually change?

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What it’s like driving a green black cab in London

For London Climate Action Week (#LCAW2021), we spoke to a driver of one of the most iconic forms of transport in London, the black cab. Green Alliance’s senior political adviser, Joe Tetlow, interviewed cabbie Sardar Manyana about his experience of driving one of the newer ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs). 

How long have you driven a black cab? Have you always driven a ULEV? 
I’ve been a taxi driver for over four years. Previously, I drove a conventional TX4 black cab, but for the past 18 months I’ve been driving a hybrid ULEV, made by the London Electric Vehicle Company, which I rent.

What incentives are there to switch to a hybrid black cab? 
Non-ULEV black cabs are still allowed to operate and avoid London’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) charge. However, the advantages of having a ULEV cab are that it’s quieter and has a sunroof with six seats, and some customers love the fact it is a ULEV too. The government offers a grant worth £7,500 to own one. However, they are very expensive, costing between £55,600 and £58,000 plus insurance, which is why I rent.

What about the cost of running your cab and the ease of charging it?
The cost of charging is between £5.50 to £7.00 per charge, depending on the chargers used. If it’s done at home it’s cheaper, but I live in an apartment, so don’t have access to charging at home.

Even though ULEV manufacturers claim you save money, you don’t, mainly because finding a working charging point is so hard and the interruption to your working time of charging. Even a fast charger, at 50KW, takes between 45 minutes and an hour to charge. On full charge, vehicles run for about 50 to 55 miles which isn’t very practical as the average cabbie covers between 70-80 miles in a day and many live outside London. The battery power needs to be improved.

With current technology, this vehicle is not yet very cost effective to run. Some charging points are out of action for months at a time, and there are constant problems with contacting customer service to get them working. The chargers that do work are often illegally occupied by parked private vehicles, or are being used by private hire vehicles when the chargers are meant to be exclusively for taxis.

Overall, there are far too few rapid electric charging points in important central areas like Kensington, Westminster, Fulham, and there are no chargers that I know of in Mayfair. Some chargers are in car parks, but then you have to pay to park while you charge.

What can the government do to help? 
If the government seriously wants to cut congestion and pollution, they must be more serious about funding road users to switch to electric or other cleaner methods of travel. And they need to look at how the whole system works and increase clean energy access to support it, including many more rapid chargers.

I also believe they should consider restricting the use of private cars on London’s roads, and prioritise public transport, including black cabs, pedestrians and cyclists to encourage the public to use their cars less. We also provide a service to a lot of vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, so it is vital that we have access to all roads, which we currently don’t have in some areas of London. London’s ultra low emission black taxis should be seen as part of a clean public transport system and be given 100 per cent finance at no interest to buy electric vehicles, and a scrappage scheme for older vehicles could help speed it up.

Better planning of road space would also improve the flow of traffic and sharing with bikes, as would more carefully timed traffic lights. Road closures for low traffic neighbourhoods should be planned along with other measures to cut traffic, otherwise they simply squeeze more traffic onto other roads, increasing pollution and congestion there, which still negatively affects people’s health.

We black taxi drivers work very hard to get our badge and know the city’s roads inside out, so we should be consulted and included in plans for greener city transport, as we’re an important part of that future.

Why the north needs new powers to deliver on decarbonisation

This post is by Piers Forster, professor of physical climate change and director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, and Climate Change Committee  representative on the Transport for North Partnership Board.

Transport for the North (TfN) will shortly be launching a consultation on its decarbonisation strategy, which has already been approved in its current form by civic and business leaders across the North. It is the first regional strategy of its kind in the UK will provide a benchmark for other regions. In the meantime, it is important to hear from politicians; officials; business groups; interest groups; and, of course, the people of the north of England, through the consultation to make sure the strategy is as strong as it needs to be.

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Net zero: an update from the transport committee

Green Alliance is tracking the UK’s net zero policy progress in key areas of government throughout this year. This week we are featuring a series of daily blogs in which we hear from the chairs of five parliamentary select committees, who answer our questions about the progress being made in their committee’s area of interest. This post is by Huw Merriman MP, chair of the Transport Select Committee.

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What the UK can learn from Welsh transport strategy

This post is by Jack Wilkinson-Dix, policy officer at the Energy Saving Trust.

Cutting the carbon emissions of transport, whether in Wales or the rest of the UK, will be a critical challenge in the coming years as the country transitions to net zero. The Welsh government recently published its transport strategy, Llwybr Newydd (New Path), which sets a strategic vision for transport decarbonisation to 2035. This is the culmination of years of engagement with Welsh stakeholders, including through a consultation which the Energy Saving Trust responded to in January 2021.

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Is the promise of waste based aviation fuel sending us down a blind alley?

This post is by Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the Aviation Environment Federation.

Scientists in America have found a way to massively reduce emissions from flying by using a new fuel made from waste, a BBC news headlines announced on 15 March. It sounded like the kind of scientific breakthrough that almost everyone would want to see: tackling waste and reducing emissions while allowing people to carry on flying. In fact, the story went on to report, the new fuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 165 per cent suggesting that one way to lower emissions would be to fly more.

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A tale of two developments: why new planning reforms threaten to entrench unsustainable lifestyles

This post is by Steve Chambers, sustainable transport campaigner at Transport for New Homes.

In 2018, Transport for New Homes produced an initial report that revealed the deep flaws in the planning system which leave new housing developments with inadequate walking, cycling and public transport connections to surrounding areas. With limited facilities locally, residents are, for the most part, forced into car dependency.

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Changing the way we do deliveries will be good for cities, businesses and people

This post is by Angela Hultberg, head of sustainable mobility at IKEA Retail (Ingka Group)

E-commerce is soaring. It already was pre-pandemic, and during 2020 it has risen to entirely new levels. Online shopping has the potential to be the more sustainable choice, avoiding emissions from going to the store, or even several stores. But is that potential realised today?

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A year on: is the government keeping its promise to radically shift the way we travel?

It’s been a year since the Department for Transport (DfT) published its transport policy paper. This set out the context for the government’s challenge to decarbonise the UK’s largest emitting sector, ahead of launching its Transport Decarbonisation Plan. At that time, many were pleasantly surprised (including Green Alliance) at the change in tone from a department that has traditionally been a climate laggard, and many hoped the promised plan would mark a pivotal moment.

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Phasing out cars with engines: without breaking the bank

This post is by Greg Archer, UK director of Transport & Environment

The announcement of when the UK should phase out the sale of new cars with engines is imminent and provoking fierce debate. Back in February, the government proposed that sales of new cars and vans with engines should end within 15 years at the latest. The maths was simple: to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, all vehicles with engines need to be off the road by then so the last new car with an engine should be sold by the early 2030s.

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