As lockdown restrictions are eased and many people start to move around again, a shift to more positive messaging on public transport is being strongly welcomed by sustainable transport charities.

The alliance of eight organisations (Bus Users, Campaign for Better Transport, Community Rail Network, Community Transport Association, Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), Greener Journeys, Living Streets, Sustrans) is underlining the importance of sustainable transport to our communities, and our ability to create a more sustainable, healthy, inclusive future.

Government advice to consider "all other forms of transport... before using public transport" is set to be relaxed to encourage more people to use public transport.

Manchester train station

Responding to reports that this advice is expected to change, Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"A careful return to public transport, alongside walking, cycling and shared transport, will be essential to avoiding congestion and high levels of pollution as more of us begin to head back to high streets and offices. A third of people don't have access to a car, so public transport is also essential to rebuilding the economy in a way that does not leave people behind."

Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users, welcomed the promised change of tone, saying:

"It is vital to move forward in a more sustainable way and ensure that private cars are not seen as the main travel choice now that lockdown is easing. All the evidence shows public and shared transport is safe to use, so we can all get back on board again and move towards a greener future together."

Bill Freeman, Chief Executive, Community Transport Association, said:

"Many people rely on community transport services as the only means of getting around. Reinstating these services will support people who cannot drive or access mainstream passenger transport to come of out lockdown in a safe and sustainable way, which will help our communities recover as well as the economy."

Jools Townsend, Chief Executive, Community Rail Network, said:

"Trains, buses and community and shared transport have continued to provide for our communities through the pandemic, and they're incredibly important to our future too. These sustainable modes of travel can help us achieve a green and inclusive recovery, benefitting our communities, health and wellbeing, and our climate."

Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy and Communications, Living Streets, said:

"It is essential that our national recovery from COVID-19 is built around sustainable transport and not car-led. There are huge benefits on offer to our individual health and air quality by enabling everyone to make their everyday journeys in a healthy, environmentally positive way. Walking and cycling working in lockstep with public and shared transport should be at the heart of this."

Richard Dilks, Chief Executive, CoMoUK, said:

"Before Covid-19, shared transport provision and use was at an all-time high in Britain. As lockdown eases, shared transport such as car clubs and bike share schemes can once again help people move around sustainably in conjunction with public transport and help them avoid owning and using private cars."

Steve Brooks, Executive Director for External Affairs at the walking and cycling charity Sustrans said:

“Many of us will use different transport for single journeys, combining a bus trip with a short walk.  If we want to avoid clogging our streets with traffic and encouraging more people to walk or cycle everyday journeys, then we need to safely re-open public transport."