Pandemic era sees huge rise in cycling, stats show
Campaigners have highlighted new Government figures which show that people will cycle if it feels safe, and if car traffic is low. The new stats also reveal the huge public handouts to the bus industry through the pandemic.
The data was published today in Scottish Transport Statistics, and covers 2020/2021 when there was a huge drop in traffic due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The figures show a 63.5% increase in cycling in 2020-2021, while all other forms of transport showed marked reductions due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Figures show that the bus industry in Scotland received £340m in funding from local or central government in 2020-21. Passenger revenue for the same period was £131m. Effectively, the taxpayer subsidised 72% of the industry.
Meanwhile, bus fares in Scotland have increased by 6% (adjusting for inflation) over the past five years, while the increase for Great Britain as a whole was 3%.
The statistics also show:
• Public transport journeys fell by 70%, with 153m public transport journeys made in 2020-21. For comparison, in 2019-2020, there were 502m public transport journeys recorded.
• 83% of public transport journeys were made by bus, 9% by rail, 5% by air and 3% by ferry.
• The number of bus journeys fell by 65% in 2020-21. While this was the result of the pandemic, it also follows the trend of long term decline in bus passenger numbers. There were 458million bus journeys in 2009-10 but this had fallen to 363 million by 2019-20 Transport is Scotland’s largest source of climate emissions and levels have barely changed since 1990.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner Gavin Thomson commented:
“These statistics confirm the huge increase in cycling we witnessed over the first year of the pandemic. People will cycle if they feel safe, whether that means fewer cars on the road or segregated cycle lanes. As we head into the elections, all local council candidates need to recognise there are huge benefits to their area of making it safe and easy to cycle.
“These figures show just how much the public purse is subsidising the bus industry. But politicians have failed to get value for money. Fare rises far above the UK average, constant route cuts, and a complete lack of control or accountability. Councils need to use the new bus powers to take control of our bus network; if we’re paying for it, we should control it.
“This data is a snapshot from the first year we faced huge societal changes due to Covid-19. We still don’t know what the world will look like on the other side of this pandemic, but there are opportunities to deliver on those early promises to build back better and greener. Councils have a range of powers at their disposal to make it safe, easy, and cheap to travel sustainably.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
‘Scottish Transport Statistics No 40 – 2021’ was published today: https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/scottish-transport-statistics-no-40-2021-edition-pdf-only/
A report from the STUC showed that 18,000 jobs can be created in Scotland through investing in walking and cycling: http://www.stuc.org.uk/files/Scotland_Report.pdf
Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.