Opinion: ‘It’s time for sustainable transport in Peterborough’

Councillor Shaz Nawaz, Labour Group leader on Peterborough City Council, writes...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 3:15 pm
An electric Stagecoach bus.
An electric Stagecoach bus.

I have discussed a number of key issues with the metro mayor, Dr Nik Johnson, with a view to ensuring we receive our fair share of funding from the Combined Authority. I am pleased that the mayor is committed to improving public transport: his views are well documented.

He also understands the importance of tackling climate change. Public transport should be affordable, efficient, accessible, but also green.

Mayor Johnson believes, as he’s stated: “As we move on from the challenges presented by the Covid pandemic, we will refocus our efforts to develop an integrated public transport system for the whole of the Peterborough community.

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“Using devolved government funding, our Bus Services Improvement Plan will invest to improve the frequency, affordability and reliability of the bus network across the city and surrounding areas. I want to deliver improvements in air quality and will help the city move towards its net zero carbon targets.”

We are growing increasingly aware of the need to move to more sustainable forms of transport.

Peterborough City Council has an ambition to reach net zero carbon by 2030.

There is a cross-party working group and opposition groups are leading the way in helping to shape a carbon management action plan to help the council and city reach that ambition.

One of the ways this can be achieved is by insisting on a public transport network system that is electric. Electric buses introduced in neighbouring Cambridge have been hailed as a success. The first electric buses in Cambridge were launched two years ago and Stagecoach East has called the launch “extremely successful”.

They have said that the two zero-emission vehicles in the city have collectively travelled a total of 106,321 miles and saved 74 tonnes of C02 since they rolled into service in 2020.

The buses can travel 160 miles on a single charge.

Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Transport have recently submitted a business case as part of a funding bid for £15 million towards the costs of 78 new electric buses.

Nottingham is leading the way, with 120 biogas and 29 electric buses providing transport for residents already.

The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are keen to work with us and the metro mayor to gain the funding needed to transform bus services in Peterborough.

Leader of the Liberals Democrats, Nick Sandford, thinks that “electric buses are a great idea and it’s time we had them in Peterborough.

“But over 40 per cent of UK electricity still comes from fossil fuels, so electric buses are only part of the answer to climate change. We also need a comprehensive, frequent, and affordable bus network in Peterborough and effective action by the mayor and the city council to reverse the current increase in car usage. And we should be looking at longer term options for Peterborough such as trams or light rail.”

Deputy leader of the Green Group, Cllr Nicola Day, said: “The technology is in place for the city to move towards electric buses and we welcome the funding pledge from the mayor to ensure we are to make such a move. These buses will reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and help us to reach net zero carbon by 2030, newer buses will also offer a more comfortable journey for passengers.”

We also need to have a discussion with residents about the bus services available presently and how we can help make the service more accessible and user friendly. We need to talk about the routes on offer and how we can encourage more residents to use the bus services in Peterborough.

We need a public transport system that we can all share and one that is sustainable.

The Labour Group is committed to tackling the climate emergency alongside improving public transport. I am pleased the metro mayor, Liberal Democrats and Green Party will work with us on this initiative on this citywide challenge.