BANES is to be congratulated for creating a plan to tackle the air pollution that is generated by transport in Bath. Unfortunately the plan has several flaws:
- It doesn't consider pollution from brake and tyre dust.
- It considers pollution per vehicle rather than pollution per person.
- It doesn't help tackle congestion.
- It is biased towards wealthy car users.
Cars generate more pollution per person than buses. Cars also impede the progress of buses within the city, making buses expensive, slow and unreliable. The key therefore is to reduce the number of cars in the city, thus improving air quality and making it easier for people to travel in the city using buses. How can this be achieved?
The solution is to turn all parking in the city into residents' parking zones, where each resident has a reserved space in their local zone, but all other spaces have to be purchased at a higher price. Thus residents' parking zones reduce the number of cars on the road, making it cheaper and easier to use buses, and reducing air pollution from exhaust, brakes and tyres.
Some may argue that even if buses aren't impeded by cars, the fares won't be reduced and the company will pocket the extra profit. If this happens, then BANES should use a Quality Contract Scheme to punish anti-competitive behaviour by bus operators.
Bus operators have adopted electronic ticketing in BANES where you activate your ticket on the phone just before boarding, and show the screen to the driver as you walk past. This is a great step forward, but the problem is that you have to buy a separate batch of tickets for each bus operator. BANES need to step in here and require that the same tickets work for any bus company.
With people travelling by bus rather than car, an immediate improvement is made to transport in Bath. However, we shouldn't stop there! Trams are superior to buses in that they pollute less, are cheaper to operate, have a higher capacity and are more pleasant to travel in. With the money generated from the parking zones, BANES should begin to build a Bath tram network.