Most people accept that we now need to take urgent, targeted and specific action to protect and improve the state of our environment. While there may be some debate about timescales and how severe the action to be taken, the real issue seems to be people taking personal responsibility for it. Last week Bus Éireann announced a plan to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by 2030. Like most bus operators, Bus Éireann has been taking steps for many years, now, however, it is making commitments in advance. Since 1990, all of its new buses have year on year been more environmentally friendly as diesel engine emissions legislation progressed from Euro 1 engines to Euro 6. Bus Éireann like all operators can provide a low carbon transport system which will lead to improved sustainability and reduced emissions, but if the general traveling public don’t make more use of public transport and buses, these plans will becomes futile.
This is a challenge for the Government. Will it be forced to legislate or tax people out of their cars and on to public transport? A time is not far away when bus operators and business in general may call the public out and tell them it is time to catch up, they have skin in the game.
Not one for getting into unnecessary battles, I gave a friendly thumbs up and stopped the engine. He jogged off and hopped into a ‘02 car across the road. There would have been little point in trying to tell him that the bus with a Euro 5 engine was significantly less of a pollutant than his vehicle. Neither would you have had any success in pointing out to him that driving his car to a location to “go for a walk” was not very environmentally friendly. Later, I counted 35 cars collecting kids from the school. Of course, every parent had a good reason, even a practical one why the bus is not an option for their particular circumstances. There is no doubt changing people’s traveling habits and perceptions is going to be a very big task.
Service providers, including bus operators will continue to play their part in sustainability, Bus Éireann is the most recent example of a company to do that, but the general public need to get involved. Not every house has a cycle lane or bus stop at their front door, they may never have. Some of the traveling luxuries our parents had, may not be available to our children. Somehow I think our kids are getting that message ahead of our generation. Sometimes we may have to walk a few hundred metres to the bus stop and possibly wait a few minutes, but that may be the future of sustainability.