The years ahead will bring serious transport challenges as the mobility demands of a growing population need to be met while simultaneously improving quality of life indicators and reducing resource use and carbon emissions.
Public transport is a key enabler of economic growth and produces lower emissions than other transport modes. Mode shift from single occupancy cars is essential to managing congestion in many areas and reducing carbon emissions. Our buses and trains are fundamental to a more sustainable travel solution. Given that we move some 2.5 billion passengers a year, our contribution is already significant.
However, we also recognise that we must continue to improve our services, invest in technology and work with partners to increase transport integration and ensure that public transport continues to expand its role in future transport provision. In parallel with this we need to reduce our own emissions and ensure that public transport remains a low-emissions alternative. Our commitment to this is set out in the Climate Change & Environment section of our website. Across the business we strive to develop the right transport solutions for our customers to maintain our customer base and attract more people to public transport as an alternative to less sustainable modes. Our divisions are working hard to achieve this despite the challenging economic and funding environment.
- Our First Student operations transport 6 million students each day, helping to reduce congestion and emissions from school travel. The current economic climate places intense budgetary pressures on many school districts although we are starting to see signs of recovery in the wider macro-economic climate. In response we have put in place a major, efficiency-based transformational programme. This aims to maintain First Student as the best choice for school routes and charter services while also upholding our commitment to safety and customer service.
- Our inter-city Greyhound coaches form one of the most efficient, low-carbon means of travel. We are currently transforming the business into a modern, customer-focused company through investment in training, vehicles and ticketing systems. We have introduced new Greyhound express routes in response to customer demand for high quality affordable services: these routes have seen an average of 20% growth since launch.
- First Transit and First Services provide contract transit and vehicle services. We see our role as working with our customers to deliver best in class, reliable and sustainable services that encourage bus ridership. We do this through investment in our people and ensuring that we can advise our customers on the best use of technology for better efficiency and improved environmental performance.
- In our UK Bus division we are focusing our business on those areas with greatest growth opportunities. We continue to build partnerships that deliver long-term improvements to the transport systems in our operating areas. We have presented our commitment in Better Journeys for Life, which includes significant plans for investment in new vehicles, state-of-the-art ticketing and programmes that will improve connectivity and promote greater uptake of public transport.
- Across our rail franchises we have been working to improve customer services on the networks. Our success is reflected in the improving levels of customer satisfaction and customer growth. Our Rail division has adopted the The Rail Industry Sustainable Development Principles. We have established a local governance structure to strengthen CR management. This framework will help to embed new train companies into the business in the next few years as the current franchising process sees our rail business evolve.
Enabling people to move efficiently is essential to economic prosperity. Strong partnerships are necessary to achieve this.