Low Emission Zones is considered one way to address the poor air quality in certain parts of Scotland. But introducing these zones could regulate the transport system in ways that adversely impacts certain groups. For example a Low Emission Zone could make it more difficult for already vulnerable groups to travel to the centre of a town or city. 

Using Edinburgh as an example this report assesses the level of vulnerability across the South-East of Scotland Region. The spatial vulnerability assessment considers exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to the introduction of a Low Emission Zone. This assessment is built into a Geographical Information System as a site selection tool.

The findings from a spatial vulnerability assessment could be used to plan specific interventions or investments.

Scotland’s transport system is an integral part of economic and social activity, crucial in the pursuit of business opportunities and underpinning our lifestyles. However, the extensive benefits the system delivers to Scotland come at a price. Fossil fuel powered vehicles generate large quantities of greenhouse gases, leading to climate change, as well as local pollutants, reducing air quality and damaging the health of citizens. One of the biggest challenges facing government policy over the next decade is developing a strategy through which to maintain the positive aspects of the system whilst reducing the antagonisms which it generates.

In an effort to shift the system onto a sustainable pathway, the Scottish Government are in the process of designing a series of policies which could significantly alter how the transport system operates. An example is the potential introduction of Low Emission Zones in some of Scotland’s cities, which will restrict the access of highly polluting cars, buses and lorries, in order to improve air quality and encourage the use of cleaner vehicles. Will the impact of this considerable change in transport policy be evenly distributed? What parts of society are likely to gain or lose out from the policy, and will it lead to a fairer system?

At present, work is underway within ClimateXChange to evaluate the social equality implications of the potential introduction of Low Emission Zones. This work brings together a host of different pieces of information about the cars citizens own, how these cars are used and the alternative forms of transport that are available. These pieces of information are used to develop an assessment of how vulnerable certain areas are to the introduction of Low Emission Zones, with this level of vulnerability then being linked to the types of individuals that live within the area. As such it produces a detailed perspective on how the costs of Low Emission Zones are spread across society.

Through this evaluation, ClimateXChange will provide advice to the Scottish Government regarding the areas that could lose out due to the introduction of Low Emission Zones, and what measures could be put in place to circumvent any negative consequences of the policy. These measures could involve expanding public transport, introducing new Car Club locations and installing additional active travel corridors in order to ensure that citizens are not wholly reliant on the use of private cars to access the Low Emission Zones.

ClimateXChange convened a meeting with Transport Scotland to discuss the Scottish Transport Energy and Air Pollution Model (STEAM). This facilitated dialogue between academics from CXC and UKERC, and policy and analytical staff from Transport Scotland, aimed to agree the potential capabilities and data requirements of such a model for Scotland. The event also looked at the scope for application of the STEAM model in support of transport emissions reduction policy development in line with the draft Climate Change Plan.

Increasing the use of car clubs is an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from transport in Scotland. This research analysed user survey data to better understand members’ motivations for joining car clubs. The findings may be useful in encouraging car club membership and in understanding the impact of car clubs on the transport system.

The research found that new members of car clubs can be separated according to those who previously owned a car and those who did not previously own a car.

New members who have previously owned a car are more commonly motivated to join a car club in order to spend less on transport and to reduce their level of car use. However, these members reported that their number of car trips increased after they joined carb clubs. Their use of light-rail transit and walking decreased over the same period.

New members who had not previously owned a car were more likely to be motivated to join car clubs in oder to access cars on a short term basis and to make trips that could not be made using alternative modes of transport. This group also increased the number of trips taken by car after joining, whilst reducing the number of trips taken by foot. This group, however, was more likely to use plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles than those who had previously owned a car.

Buses are the most popular form of public transport in Scotland, accounting for 77% of public transport journeys. Increasing the proportion of journeys taken by bus rather than by car can reduce road congestion, as well as the emission of greenhouse gases and local air pollutants.

This policy note explores how users perceive quality of bus services in Scotland. It provides insights into how the experience of taking a bus in Scotland may be improved for users in in order to encourage further bus patronage.  The key findings include:

  • Service convenience – frequency and regularity – is the most important issue when existing bus users consider how satisfied they are.
  • Targeting service improvements in relation to frequency, availability, reliability and stability will likely generate the highest returns to investment relating to the perceived satisfaction of existing bus users.
  • The comfort and cleanliness of the bus and the ease of use of the service are still significant in user evaluations of the service, they tend to be of secondary importance