Extinction Rebellion's Double Decker Leads Bus Cuts Protest

Part of a national 'Summer Uprising' by climate action group

Bikes and scooters accompanied the open top bus on its trip

The local Extinction Rebellion group has taken part in a ‘Summer Uprising’ climate festival on board an open top bus which travelled across south London.

Showing the destination ‘Climate Justice’ and with banners proclaiming ‘Cut Carbon Not Buses’ and ‘Transport Change Not Climate Change’ hung from either side, the bus was accompanied by a flotilla of bicycles, scooters and cargo bikes, XR flags waving.

Starting from Wandsworth Town Hall, it stopped off at Battersea Park in Wandsworth and Clapham Common in Lambeth, ending at Burgess Park in Southwark. At each stop-off point Extinction Rebellion members set up stalls, gave out leaflets and talked with members of the public about the climate emergency, proposed bus cuts and the need for a carbon-free public transport system. They encouraged people to take part in TfL’s consultation on the bus cuts, to join local XR groups and to come to the next big XR gathering in London starting 9 September.

Dr Christianne Guillotte from Doctors for XR spoke about the effects on health of climate change focusing on air pollution. Figures indicate that over 9,000 Londoners die prematurely every year from air pollution, to which emissions from transport is a major contributor. She said, ‘It is my duty as a doctor to speak out about air pollution because it is a clear and avoidable cause of illness, disability and death,’ she said. She quoted data showing that children in London are growing up with lung volumes up to 10% lower than the UK average and one in 11 develop asthma.

‘It’s important to remember that these effects are not felt equally,’ said Dr Guillotte. ‘Areas of deprivation, vulnerable groups, and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by toxic air.’

‘Electric cars are not the answer,’ said Pete Knapps of Scientists for XR, a researcher on air pollution. Wear on tyres and brakes causes air pollution, sometimes more than from petrol cars. We need most people to stop using cars, leaving roads free for essential cars and buses. Reduced congestion will allow buses to travel faster and leave space for bicycles. If public transport in your area isn’t good enough, he advised, talk to your MP and your local councillors, or join a local campaigning group.

The day’s events were part of a nationwide series of actions by local XR groups under the umbrella of the ‘Summer Uprising’.

Extinction Rebellion’s climate bus travels across South London with the message ‘Cut Carbon Not Buses’
Extinction Rebellion’s climate bus travels across South London with the message ‘Cut Carbon Not Buses’

Transport for London (TfL) has announced proposals to make the biggest reduction in London’s bus service ever, with 250 buses and 16 routes axed. These cuts could lead to the loss of 800 jobs, in the middle of the worst cost-of-living crisis for decades.

In addition, TfL wants to cut 600 jobs across the Tube network to meet a government target of saving £400 million across the network. The government is demanding savings of £400 million from TfL and this is what London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come up with.

XR describe cutting public transport in a climate crisis as crazy and is calling for a London free of all but essential cars, a city-wide network of safe walking and cycling routes and a free, integrated, carbon-free public transport system all by 2030.

While London is the most expensive city for public transport in the world, Germany has just introduced a radical summer experiment to encourage public transport use. For just €9, Germans will be able to travel aboard regional rail, bus and subways for a whole month.

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July 29, 2022