Sell Campaign 10: Advocacy With Public Transport Providers

  1. Plan
  2. Design and Build
  3. Sell
  4. Evaluate

Background and aim

Woman boards train with folded bike Sustrans pic - Woman cyclist boards train with folded bike in Belfast

In order to avoid driving many people make multi-modal journeys, combining walking and cycling with public transport. This campaign will work with public transport providers to improve provision for walking and cycling.

The purpose of this campaign is to highlight and improve people’s ability to combine walking and cycling with public transport, in order to reduce their reliance on the car for short journeys.

Target audience

Primary – Public transport providers

Secondary – Public transport users


  • Staff time – will depend on scale of project
  • Budget to develop promotional and information resources. Budget required will depend on the scale of the campaign and level of existing resources
  • Recruitment of champions/user group
  • Development of working group with public transport providers

Outputs and impact

  • Review of cycle carriage policies
  • Better communication of policies so commuters understand their options
  • Public transport providers promote cycle highway at station/bus stops
  • City bikes promoted at transport hubs
  • Increased cycle parking at public transport nodes
  • Improved system for taking bicycles on buses and trains, and stronger public awareness
  • Increased political awareness
  • Increased number of multi-modal journeys

Examples of interventions

  • Improved provisions for cyclists at public transport hubs
  • Maps showing integration of walking, cycling and public transport
  • Information and communication of ways to integrate walking and cycling with public transport
  • Forum with Public Transport Providers and workplace advocates.

Access to Stations – Sustrans

Sustrans Access to Stations project worked with 20 railway stations around the UK to improve access for walking and cycling. The project included infrastructure improvements such as forecourt redesigns, new bridges and walking and cycling routes. Behaviour change measures currently underway include workplace activities, pop-up travel hubs, community events and personalised travel planning.

Kent Community Rail Partnership (Hosted by Sustrans)

The Kent Community Rail Partnership exists to bring together widely varied partners in order to bring social, economic and environmental benefits to the communities served by rural and secondary rail services. This is achieved by improving community links with rail operators and initiating projects that make rail services more attractive to residents and visitors alike. 

Plan of Action

Four people stand on coloured mat to promote an event Launching Active Travel Challenge online campaign in which Sustrans engaged with public transport provider Translink in...

Step 1: Scoping

  • Identify public transport providers in city and along cycle highway. Identify existing relationships e.g. community forums
  • Assess current provision for cycling and integration between public transport and cycling.
  • Assess current provision for routes and services.
  • Agree focus on campaign, from campaigning for improvement or promotion of existing services.
  • Map key stakeholders including public transport providers and existing transport campaign groups/campaigners.

Step 2: Develop

  • Establish user group of workplace champions, and develop key requests for improvements in public transport integration.
  • Develop relationship with public transport providers and assess willingness to take part in the programme. Explain the advantages to public transport providers of working together to promote active travel.
  • Develop communications plan to work with Public Transport Provider and workplaces.

Step 3: Deliver

Develop and collect campaign resources:

  • Local maps – bus routes and greenways (link with Campaigns 1, 4, 5 and 7)
  • Timetables for public transport
  • Promotion of bikes on public transport, including folding bikes (photos/stories/examples of usage - combine with case studies in Campaign 8)
  • Promotion of secure cycle parking (see Infrastructure Campaign 9).

Develop a catalogue of items for discussion with public transport providers on a variety of issues, as identified during the scoping exercise (step 1) as well as issues identified from workplaces (step 2). This could involve:

  • Sharing issues from workplace user groups with public transport providers, possible examples:
    • availability of spaces and times allowable (not just outside peak travel hours)
    • continuity of availability of carriage, so that commuters feel confident that if they can put their bike on public transport for the outward journey, there will be a similar opportunity for the return journey.
  • Park & Ride to avail of multi-modal journeys with secure parking at public transport hubs for cycling to get the bus or train and to leave bike for collection at the end of the day.
  • Schemes to help or motivate users; reduced price tickets for a week to new staff or a free trip for people to try the route.

Step 4: Legacy

Develop a ‘forum’ for communication with public transport provider on a regular basis to air issues or improve provision.

Work with partners, supportive retailer and workplaces, to promote and publicise the campaign.


  • Development of working group e.g. a forum with stakeholders and public transport representatives
  • Development of policies to encourage walking and cycling
  • Assess rise in cycle highway users on multi-modal journeys
  • Increased use of Park & Ride by cyclists
  • Increased use of secure parking at transport hubs/stations

Evidence base for Public Transport Providers

Key messages:

For the campaign to be successful it needs to successfully engage public transport providers. They will be primarily concerned with:

  • Passenger numbers
  • Passenger satisfaction

The campaign will need to show that there is public demand for increased integration for walking and cycling with public transport.

Increasing provision for integrating walking and cycling with public transport will increase passenger numbers and save money. For many people, their door-to-door journey will include multiple modes, combining buses, trains and walking or cycling. Making the transitions between modes as simple as possible will increase passenger satisfaction, reduce travel time and ultimately lead to more passengers. Many people would like to change their motorised commute with cycling.


Although half the UK population owns a bicycle and 60% live within a 15 minute ride of a station, only 2% of passengers use their bike to access the rail network.

Nearly a third of UK rail users, and nearly half of those who drive and park at their local station, would like to use an alternative means of travel to or from the station. Over 11% of UK rail users would like to cycle to and from the station.

Large purple coloured bus on road Sustrans pic

Case studies

Gelderland, Netherlands

The CHIPS partners worked with two municipalities – Nijmegen and adjacent Overbetuwe – to upgrade bus stops in combination with a promotional campaign to encourage cycling/bus use to the city centre of Nijmegen. The bus stops are not next to the cycle highway, however, these locations were suitable as a new residential area is being developed which is cycling/bus distance to the city centre. Flyers were also produced to inform inhabitants what the alternative is to driving your car to Nijmegen.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Sustrans has worked with Translink, the public transport provider in Northern Ireland on a number of projects to integrate active travel with buses and trains. Firstly, a new ‘tram on wheels’ called the Glider began to operate in September 2018 in parallel to the Comber Greenway, cycle highway. Glider messaging on board signposts passengers to the Belfast Bikes docking stations along the route. Foldable bikes are only permitted on board despite discussions with Translink. However, in the spring of 2019 three secure cycle parking units will open along the route, including one at Dundonald Park & Ride.

Sustrans plans to run a Walk, Ride and Glide promotional campaign with Translink when the new cycle units open.

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