Across the UK, large towns and cities are suffering from deteriorating air quality and chronic levels of traffic congestion, which affect public health as well as the economy. In this paper, Robert Montgomery, formerly Managing Director of UK Bus at Stagecoach Group plc, and Matthew Shepherd, Oxera, explore how public transport can provide a solution to these problems, and consider the role of public/private sector transport partnerships.

Over 40,000 deaths a year are attributable to poor air quality, with air pollution being directly linked to cancer, asthma, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dementia. The cost to the economy is estimated at £20bn per annum. Both government and local authorities have a legal requirement to improve air quality.

This health crisis has been exacerbated by rapidly increasing levels of car ownership and use, encouraged by low fuel prices and greater financial incentives to own cars through cheap, innovative leasing arrangements. Every large town and city in the UK is now blighted by growing levels of slow-moving traffic which, in addition to worsening air quality, is costing the economy another £30bn per annum.
 

Collectively, we are wasting £50bn every year in making our largest towns and cities unpleasant and unsafe places to
live. In addition, transport is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions contributing directly to climate change.
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