PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
BUILDING THE BLACK COUNTRY
GOING GREEN ACROSS THE WEST MIDLANDS
National Express West Midlands is the largest bus operator in the Black Country - serving over 90% of Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Its Black Country operations represent 40% of the company’s overall West Midlands business and it employs over 2,500 staff.
Buses are now the greenest vehicles on our roads and have a crucial role to play in helping to meet government targets on improving air quality and fighting the climate emergency.
A five-mile journey on a bus typically emits half the carbon per passenger of the same journey done by car - even on existing bus fleets. If everyone switched just one car journey a month to the bus, there would be a billion fewer car journeys and a saving of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
National Express is leading the way on climate change. They boast the largest low-carbon bus fleet outside London.
In February this year, the company announced that all its UK bus fleet will be fully zero-emission from 2030 and environmental targets will make up 25% of senior executive Long-Term Incentive Plans.
It’s a well-known fact that a full double-decker can take up to 75 cars off the road. Many of the things needed to make bus travel quicker and more reliable - and therefore attractive - need relatively little investment, say the travel company.
Prioritisation of road space, bus gates and parking enforcement are all cheap quick wins to bring carbon emissions down and clean up the air we breathe.
Travel patterns in the Black Country are very different from a big, centralised city like Birmingham. Many different customers want to go to many different places.
For example, the teenagers in a family need to go to Dudley College, their parents go to Merry Hill for shopping and their grandparents prefer Bilston for the markets.
So to make it easy for everybody to get where they want to go, National Express have to make sure there are very frequent public transport routes on main travel corridors, supported by really easy-to-use options for travelling the last mile - on foot, by bike or by car.
The company says we need lots of little local “hubs” where people can easily drop someone off in a car or leave their bike safely and then wait safely in comfort for a bus. And obviously, they need to be fully accessible.
More people commute to work by bus than all other forms of public transport combined. Nationally, bus commuters generate £73.5 billion in economic output every year. More people access the high street by bus than any other mode, and across the UK, people use the bus to make shopping and leisure trips to a value of £31 billion.
Some relatively small investment into infrastructure to create these “hubs” would hugely improve connectivity around the Black Country and support a passenger-led green recovery that will protect jobs and high streets, clean up our air and hit our climate targets.