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Kura is a UK shared transport provider with a mission to enable safer, greener, smarter travel for schools and businesses. It manages a virtual fleet of 40,000 vehicles, combining leading technology with the best vehicle operators nationwide.

On this week’s Mobility Moments. Godfrey Ryan, Kura’s CEO, discusses making school runs cleaner and safer, and his company’s recent climate pledge.

“Now being a father of four children, the safeguarding aspects that Kura delivers to schools and businesses was something that immediately clicked,” says Ryan. 

Describe Kura’s aims

One of our main aims is to revolutionise the school run by reducing the number of cars on the road during peak hours, taking the transport burden off parents and driving down CO2 emissions. In order to do this, we provide a safe, efficient alternative to parents instead of driving their children to school and now track over 500 routes, providing home to school services for more than 15,000 pupils every day.

We have also worked with many businesses, including Vanderlande, ITV and Just Eat, to provide corporate transport solutions. These services include Home to Work Services, staff and contractor shuttle buses and VIP travel. Here our aims are much the same, to provide a transport service good enough that employers can encourage employees to leave their cars at home and use safe, efficient shared transport that will improve commuting satisfaction and have a positive impact on the planet.

How can your app make school runs cleaner and safer?

Our Kura Parent App and portal gives both parents and schools the peace of mind that their children are safe on their journey to and from school. The app gives boarding and alighting notifications when children tap on and off using an NFC or RFID fob, enables vehicle tracking and allows parents to book their children onto a journey and pay or notify the school that they won’t be travelling.

Older students can make use of the passenger app to take ownership of their own travel.

This means that drivers do not have to make unnecessary additions to the journey if a student is absent, resulting in lower emissions and parents have complete transparency on when their children will be leaving and returning from school, as well as being informed of any route changes or delays.

Due to the pandemic, we also ensured that Kura technology could assist with contact tracing. When a confirmed or suspected case is reported, Kura technology immediately generates a contact-tracing report and issues it to the school so that those who have been in proximity to the student can be identified quickly and their parents can be informed.

When parents and students feel more confident in the safety and security of shared transport, they are more likely to use it. This leads to a reduction both in the number of cars on the road and in the congestion and pollution around school entrances.


How can Kura help businesses save money?

Kura can help UK businesses support employees with their commutes, making it an easier and less stressful aspect of the day. Investing in shared transport to help employees travel to work and reduce travel associated costs, is also likely to encourage people back to the office. Offering this kind of support is incredibly beneficial for staff retention rates, therefore saving money on costs associated with hiring, training and onboarding new employees.

Research from our Commuting to 2025 report revealed that two thirds of UK employees want employers to support them on the commute and 63% of employees would be more inclined to work for an employer if they offered help with the commute. Businesses should listen to calls from employees for support in this area, particularly when trying to attract top talent in the current employee market. Additionally, companies sustainability strategy and green credentials are becoming increasingly important to investors, as well as prospective employees.

By reducing the number of cars needed for the commute companies can cut down on car park spaces and create room for further development and greener initiatives. There is still a measure of distrust in public transport services so closed shuttle services offer an attractive alternative to workers.

Describe your recent climate pledge

From February 1st 2022, Kura has pledged that all of our journeys will be carbon neutral. We’ve partnered with ClimateCare to offset all unavoidable carbon emissions associated with providing shared transport solutions to both schools and businesses. Emissions will be offset via carefully selected projects in the ClimateCare portfolio. These include two world-leading clean cooking projects in Bangladesh and Ghana, that not only cut carbon emissions and help to tackle climate change but also improve lives by halving fuel bills for low-income families and reducing exposure to toxic fumes.

Creating carbon neutral journeys is an essential part of our goal to provide greener travel and whilst shared transport goes a long way in taking cars off the road, we recognise that until Electric and Hydrogen-fuelled coaches are widely available, there are still unavoidable emissions as a result of our journeys. We can’t afford to sit back and wait for the time when we can go all electric, so offsetting enables us to take immediate action now.

As part of our wider climate pledge, we are also working with customers and suppliers to move towards reducing all emissions to net-zero by 2030. We want to be at a stage where we’re not putting any more carbon into the atmosphere than we take out from both our business activity and the transport we provide customers.

To do this, we have a carbon neutral timetable, with a plan to get rid of scope 1,2 and 3 emissions. This involves emissions arising from Kura staff direct activity, emissions from services that Kura buys to run its business and from its UK operator network.

What more can be done to take cars off the road?

Shared transport is a key part of taking cars off the road, just one 49-seater coach replaces on average 31 cars on the road. However, in order for people to give up their cars, the alternative needs to be convenient, safe and cost-effective. For many, the idea of getting public transport fills them with dread, due to overcrowding, infection fears and delays. So, the government and local authorities do have a part to play in investing in public transport to take cars off the road, reduce congestion and encourage people to make a more sustainable choice.

Kura offers an alternative to public transport that still has the sustainability benefits of shared journeys. If employers can offer a dedicated home to work shuttle that’s more cost and time effective, it’s much more likely that people would take up shared transport.

Similarly, if parents are reassured that school transport is safe and reliable, then they will feel comfortable with their children using it to travel.


What will commuting be like by 2030?

The commute has changed significantly over the course of the pandemic and our “Commuting to 2025” report found that whilst one fifth of UK workers didn’t intend to return to the office, the majority still planned to. This means that despite a move towards hybrid working models, there are still a huge number of people commuting to work in single-occupancy vehicles.

With the cost of living and the commute continuing to rise, 78% of drivers said they would switch from cars to an alternative mode of transport if their current commute becomes too expensive. 18-24 year old’s are the most likely to do this, meaning that in the future, people will be looking to cheaper, greener alternatives to driving to work.

Post COVID, Kura is already getting feedback from its city centre based corporate customers that having reviewed their real estate portfolio many are now considering moving to a hub and spoke model involving regional offices or co-working spaces closer to where staff live at the expense of the traditional HQ. This will shorten commute times and improve employee health and wellbeing, as well as facilitating cycling and commuting on foot at the expense of public transport.

Where this is not practical, in order to deter low occupancy car use and resulting local congestion and pollution, many businesses are asking Kura to set up a staff shuttle to transport their teams into HQ or their new regional hubs. This is not a new phenomenon, as many manufacturers, distribution companies and business parks have had these in place for many years.

Electric vehicles will also play a vital role in the commute of 2030, as by then they should be widely available, more affordable and electricity production will generate less emissions. Over two thirds of respondents in our commuting report saw electric cars and buses being a major part of the commute of the future and ultimately, EVs are the way forward in helping to eradicate emissions at source.

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