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World Cities Day: embracing sustainable transport

October 2021

Each year World Cities Day aims to promote cooperation among countries in addressing the challenges of urbanisation and push forward sustainable urban development around the world. The theme for World Cities Day 2021 is Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience reflecting the fact that climate change will have a huge impact on city residents with hundreds of millions of them experiencing floods, storms and increasing periods of extreme temperatures.

According to UN Habitat, cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, they account for less than 2% of the Earth’s surface. So in order to slash emissions and slow down global warming, we need to tackle the huge impact cities have on our environment.

Events such as World Cities Day encourages cities to innovate and experiment, and learn from one another in order to speed up positive change. This is something that we’re very passionate about at The Phoenix Works. With over 10 years’ experience of delivering sustainable energy solutions, we want to improve our industry by educating and empowering our customers and sharing our knowledge to better the world we all live in.

That’s why this World Cities Day we’re looking at how UK cities are embracing sustainable transport and sharing some exciting projects we are proud to have been a part of.

Electrifying public transport

In the year ending June 2021, the number of local bus passenger journeys in England alone was 1.98 billion! This was despite a 38% decrease when compared with the previous year, as a result of the nationwide restrictions due to COVID-19. Making these journeys greener through the use of electric busses would not only have a positive effect on the air quality but also the community with reduced traffic noise and smell of fumes.

So it is encouraging news that the UK is set to have the largest electric bus fleet in Europe by 2024 according to forecasts by Accuracy, the global independent advisory firm. With the number of electric buses projected to grow by close to 180% from approximately 1,000 to 2,800 vehicles.

Back in 2015 City of York Council introduced one of the largest zero-emission bus services in the UK. With The Phoenix Works enlisted to design and install the charging infrastructure required to provide a reliable and sustainable service to the city. The electrification of their city bus routes has enabled the city to see an estimated reduction of 1.6million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Meeting the needs of EV drivers

2020 saw the biggest annual increase of electric cars registered in the UK with a growth of 66% on 2019. By 2025 it is estimated half of new car registrations will be EVs resulting in the demand for EV charging facilities in towns and cities growing.

Councils across the country are working to provide the charging infrastructure required to support current EV drivers and encourage more to make the switch to electric vehicles. With the help of data gathered from Zap-map we took a look at which of the UK’s largest cities are best prepared for the EV revolution. Read more here.

In 2019 Swindon Borough Council enlisted the help of The Phoenix Works to provide an EV charging solution for their employees and the public. The new charging points are a part of the Council’s desire to make a real and lasting contribution to helping the UK meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as a key priority for improving the town’s infrastructure to support a growing, low carbon economy.

Swindon Borough Council Public EV Charging

“We know that switching to electric vehicles is a massive change for people and we want to make it easy for them to own and run these sorts of cars, and these new charging points are a brilliant way of achieving that.”


But adding electric vehicle charge points to built-up areas isn’t always straight forward. Ensuring chargers are located in convenient parking spots and don’t block pavements for pedestrians are just two factors that need to be considered when designing public charging solutions.

This year we have been working with Urban Foresight in partnership with Plymouth City Council trialling innovative pop-up Electric Vehicle chargers. Built into the ground and only rising up when in use, the chargers provide a safe, discreet, attractive and low-cost solution for electric vehicle drivers who don’t have access to off-street parking. The UEOne chargepoints are designed for convenient kerbside parking for use by residents, visitors and commuters.

Taxi transport

Since 2005, the number of taxis and private hire vehicles (PHV’s) on the road in the UK has increased by nearly 90%, powered in part by the rise of cab-hailing apps like Uber. The introduction of low emission zones in cities has seen taxis switch to electric vehicles to avoid increasing operational costs from green zone charges.

In 2020 The Phoenix Works installed 18 new rapid chargers across Sheffield as part of Sheffield City Council’s clean air strategy and its drive to reduce air pollution in the city. Crucially nine of the charge points are reserved for taxi-only usage to ensure electric taxis always have a place to charge. The fastest chargers are able to fill a battery to 80% in 45 minutes, ensuring minimal impact to drivers working day.

Where can we go from here

Reducing emissions in cities through the take up of electric vehicles is a big step to making positive change, but we also need to consider the sustainability of the energy used to charge these vehicles. Incorporating renewable energy solutions into urban infrastructure is vital piece of adapting cities for climate resilience.

The UK’s first solar powered Park and Ride site opened in Leeds in September which will result in the reduction of 471 tonnes of carbon each year, the equivalent of removing 203 cars off the road. The project is powered entirely by solar panels and a battery storage system, creating a smart energy grid on site using sustainable technology.

Everyday team TPW are working to support customers as they transition to sustainable energy. Each year World Cities Day is a reminder to highlight the positive steps we are all making to create healthier and better places to live and work.


Read more about the latest from The Phoenix Works here


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