Nottingham is often cited as having one of the best public transport systems in the country, and it also has very good green credentials. A 2020 study by Uswitch.com ranked ours as the third most sustainable transport system out of fifteen major UK cities – just behind Liverpool, with London leading the way. So, let’s take a look at what we have to offer and how each travel option stacks up…
Nottingham City Transport already operated the largest fleet of biogas double decker buses in the world, and they recently extended it to 143. The existing fleet has made quite a significant contribution to improving Nottingham’s air quality , preventing the emission of more than 26,000 tonnes of CO2, as well as reducing nitrogen oxide emissions (with their much greater greenhouse effect) by 180 kg.
Biogas, while still generating emissions, is created in a renewable circular process that captures methane and other gases produced by our waste and agriculture, turning them into a relatively clean fuel instead. NCT tells us that their biogas “is produced naturally by anaerobic digestion from food waste, agricultural waste and sewage. It is the methane emitted during this process that is ultimately used to turn into biogas (fuel) for our buses.
Trentbarton has also taken steps to make its buses cleaner, including adding fuel-saving technology to its 330 buses that helps monitor usage with a view to reducing emissions, while introducing more “certified buses to very low emissions” in their fleet. Eco-champion Matt Newman told reporters: “Over the past seven years, Trentbarton has spent £20million on greener buses and is exploring zero-emission buses for the future.”
Trams are one of the best ways to electrify our transportation and move away from fossil fuels because they don’t require environmentally expensive lithium mining to make loads of super batteries that currently tend to be replaced after have completed their fairly short life cycle. . It’s also good to know that Nottingham’s trams are powered entirely by renewable energy.
Local operator Tramlink often voices its support for Carbon Neutral Nottingham 2028, recently launching a branded tram supporting the initiative, which currently runs around Notts. Unveiling the tram, Tim Hesketh said: “Nottingham is leading the charge in the fight against climate change, this newly wrapped tram will create a ‘green symbol’ of the city’s clean growth ambitions.
Nottingham’s controversial electric scooter trial has generally been judged by the industry as a success. Operator Wind UK has claimed one million journeys in the year to December 2021 through Nottingham and Derby. Industry blog Zag says each scooter is used an average of five times a day – the highest number of e-scooter use they’ve seen, at around five times the rate of use in London. But there is new skepticism about the environmental benefits of electric scooters, as a University of Nottingham study analyzing their use has raised concerns about whether they are replacing good commutes.
Dr. Mike Clifford, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, tells us: “Only 10% of respondents said they would have used a private car if they had not had access to an e-scooter, and 15% would have used a taxi.” However, the others would have walked (34%), taken the bus (16%), the tram (15%) or the bicycle (10%); thus, continues Mike, “The net result is that the provision of electric scooters actually increases CO2 emissions compared to the modes of transport that scooters replace.”
But if you’re using electric scooters to replace car trips, you’re probably still onto a winner. In its defence, Nottingham City Council said this pioneering scheme costs the taxpayer nothing and that the new high-tech LINK model scooters replacing the original yellow gear choppers are designed to be safer.
How green are taxis, you might be wondering? Well, for starters, it’s a form of automotive resource sharing which is good, but they’re also a lot greener when they’re electric. Nottingham already has a few, with 54 Hackney electric cars in June 2022 – the largest fleet in operation outside London.
We are also hosting the UK’s first trial of wireless charging taxis, funded to the tune of £930,000 by the government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles. This means that drivers can easily top up while waiting for their next customer. While taxis aren’t a means of transportation that many of us can afford to take on a regular basis, it’s good to know that more eco-friendly options are increasingly available.
There are many routes and modes of transport around Nottingham, and the smarter we use them to minimize our emissions while getting where we need to go, the better. Of course, the most active option will always be the healthiest – so walk or cycle, if you can.