LEZ transport poverty is real, so how do we end it?

Deprived communities in Scotland’s largest Low Emission Zones are being targeted by a new project aimed at improving access to low cost communal transport options. 

Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) and Smarter Choices, Smarter Places has launched a new project aimed at tackling inequality and accessibility issues impacting disenfranchised groups living and travelling within Scottish Low Emission Zones (LEZs). 

Glasgow Scotland CoMoUK Shared Transport

The Shared Transport for All scheme has been set up to mitigate so-called transport poverty, wherein households and individuals on lower incomes find themselves being cut off from key services and opportunities because older, more polluting vehicles have been restricted from entering LEZs, and existing public transport infrastructure is not capable of providing the essential connections they need.

Penalties for driving non-compliant vehicles through areas with congestion and air pollution reduction initiatives in place can cost as much as £60, which is unaffordable for many. Transport Scotland figures show less than 20% of households bringing in under £10,000 a year have access to a bicycle, while bus, rail and metro routes may not serve the destinations they need. So-called ‘forced car ownership’ is often the result. 

However, statistics from individual cities show a high volume of registered vehicles per council, particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, suggesting there is good availability of cars in these areas CoMoUK is now investing £44,000 into community engagement officers that can help establish and develop low-cost communal transit schemes in places where mobility has been identified as a problem. Proposals include cycle hire, car clubs, and ride share initiatives, with the emphasis both on launching new schemes and encouraging existing operators to branch out into impacted areas. 

‘I am excited to be delivering our Shared Transport for All project, as it supports communities facing deprivation to access more sustainable and reliable transport modes,’ said Hannah Box, Senior Development Officer, communities, at CoMoUK. 
‘This project will empower communities in Glasgow and Edinburgh to access their local shared transport schemes or make plans to implement their own schemes.

‘Where the low emission zone will limit car journeys into the city, people travelling from deprived areas who rely on their car may be greatly impacted,’ she continued. ‘I look forward to collaborating with partners and communities to explore the opportunities and address the challenges of the low emission zones.’

Despite these obvious issues, LEZs have been shown to successfully bring air pollution down. A recent report on schemes across Europe pointed to significant emissions savings, with evidence that such benefits are not restricted to the geographical area covered by the zones themselves. 

Image: Ross Sneddon


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