Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: get to grips with your local public transport system.

It’s really easy to take having a car for granted – it’s sat there on the drive ready and waiting to whisk you off to wherever you need to go, whether that’s just down the road to the shops or across town to see a friend. But all of these little journeys – insignificant as they may seem – add up. In fact, according to research from Emissions Analytics, 56% of car journeys undertaken in the UK are less than five miles long, and emissions systems that are built into cars to capture harmful pollution take around five minutes to warm up and activate. This means these short journeys are pumping more emissions into the atmosphere per mile than longer trips.

So what’s the alternative? Well, there’s walking of course (here are 10 reasons why it’s really good for you), but for trips that are a little too far for pavement pounding, there’s public transport. Buses, trams and train systems have all been designed to get passengers from convenient points as quickly and efficiently as possible, and for a reasonable price.

There are lots of reasons why people wouldn’t ordinarily choose public transport, of course, but one of the most prevalent factors, according to figures from Statista, is that they’re simply not familiar with their local public transport network. And that’s understandable – no-one wants to end up on a bus in the wrong place!

But, chances are, there is a bus or train that covers your usual route to work, or the shops, or your friend’s house – you just don’t know it. So why not take 10 minutes to investigate your local network? Your council will have links to local services, or better still, Traveline has a really comprehensive journey planner that gives you all the details you need to get from A to B using public transport. And if you’re a big fan of Google Maps, don’t forget there’s a ‘public transit’ option on the route planner.

Even if you just replace one journey a week with public transport, you’ll be making a difference to the volume of emissions you’re responsible for releasing into the environment, which is good news for the climate. And there are a host of other reasons, too.

  • Using public transport financially benefits your local community
  • It reduces traffic congestion, which improves air quality for everyone
  • It’s often quicker, thanks to dedicated travel routes
  • Using public transport regularly can be cheaper than owning, running and maintaining a car
  • It frees up your time – instead of driving, you can catch up with your reading, or simply relax
  • It’s safer to take public transport than it is to drive a car
  • It’s good for your health, as using public transport involves more activity than taking the car
  • It can be an adventure, meeting new people and seeing your town from a different perspective

The bottom line

Having a car seems like the epitome of convenience, when in fact driving from A to B can take longer, cost more and make you feel lousier than taking public transport. If you’re not familiar with your local routes and services, take the time to get acquainted – you might be surprised how easy it would be for you to make the switch.

We would love to hear your comments and stories about the issues raised in this article:

 

  

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