Declan’s Blog: Transport – Keeping us moving well into the future!

Transport is a key enabler for business, moving both people and goods. Staffordshire enjoys exceptional connectivity with four major airports (Birmingham, East Midlands, Liverpool and Manchester) and three major population conurbations (Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Midlands), all within an hour’s drive.

Last week, I joined our Chamber Transport forum and received some fascinating updates. Professor Hamidreza Gohari Darabkhani of Staffordshire University told us about the key messages from last year’s Conference of the Parties (COP), which highlighted the need to triple the amount of renewable energy available and double energy efficiency improvements by 2030.  The emergence of a new clean energy economy, the close historic relationship between global economic growth indicated by Gross domestic product (GDP) and fossil fuel demand, is being loosened.

The West Coast Mainline and M6 motorway carve through our county in a north-south direction and the A50 offers that vital east-west connectivity.

Our businesses community relies on a road network which is free from congestion and a reliable system of public transport.  The damaging effects of climate change mean that we’ll have to think about how our future transport network will look.

Hydrogen gas is now considered to be the most promising fuel of the future and recognised as a key option to realise the net zero greenhouse gas emissions commitments announced by governments around the world.  Hydrogen has a number of transport applications including cars, trucks, buses, trains, aviation and shipping.  China and South Korea are leading the way in the use of hydrogen in road transport.

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), including low-emission hydrogen-based fuels (e.g. synthetic kerosene), are at the highest levels of technology readiness. The world’s first 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) flight from London to New York, took place in November 2023.

From Transatlantic flights to travelling by bus in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire.  Two of our local authorities (Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council), also joined last week’s Transport forum and gave us an update on their respective Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIP).

Bus passenger numbers have been in decline for many years now and BSIP is seen as a way of getting more of us travelling by bus.  BSIP aims to improve both journey times and journey reliability, which in turn, should help to drive up passenger satisfaction and repeat patronage.

Watch out for news of additional bus services being rolled out at specific times of the week – e.g. early morning, late evening and weekend services.    Improved connectivity to fit around shift start and finish times will be welcome news for workers. 

A number of bus stops will be upgraded with accessibility enhancements, to make it easier to step on and off the bus, improved lighting and CCTV.   With an estimated 27% of Stoke-on-Trent households not having access to a car, it’s clear that there is real potential to drive up passenger numbers and this will be achieved through the offer of an efficient and reliable service, which delivers good value for money.  Getting more of us out of our cars and onto buses will reduce congestion and help to improve air quality for us all.  Watch this space for further BSIP news!

If you would like to join any of our future Chamber Transport forum meetings, please contact: