Monday, February 12, 2007

The Big Idea

Transport secretary Douglas Alexander - and, presumably, Gordon Brown - wants to have a debate about using road charging to reduce congestion by 25pc despite a 1m-signature petition against the idea.

Well, it may or may not surprise Mr Alexander to learn that someone has already thought of a Big Idea for reducing the number of motorists off the road. It's called public transport.

It strikes me that there is potential for some very interesting political cross-dressing on this one if David Cameron wants to defend the cost of motoring as free at the point of delivery while at the same time underlining his environmental credentials by ploughing the proceeds of green taxes into trains and buses.

Could the Tories, the party of Dr Beeching and rail privatisation, really become the party of public transport? Stranger things have happened.

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Raymond said...

Here's hoping .. that way whoever gets in power next time has some incentive to improve Britain's public transport.

Snafu said...

Paul, the fundamental problem is that public transport is only any convenient if you live at one station and work at another!

It is far more convenient and economic for the vast majority of people to use their car instead as it is direct, comfortable, convenient, cheaper and, despite widespread congestion in the rush hour, quicker too.

Celebblog said...

Paul, please, get a grip.
Drivers cause congestion: that is an external effect of their actions impinging upon other people. It's a form of pollution. We all know that the polluter should pay.
Ergo, drivers should be charged for the congestion that they impose on other people.
What's so difficult to understand?

Celebblog said...

Sorry, that was from me, Tim Worstall. Having problems with blogger accounts.

james higham said...


Anyway, Paul, the Celebrity blogger has a point and ploughing funds into public transport is a nice idea except that the infrastructure is now too far gone. [Thinking of rail here.]

MorrisOx said...

There's room for Cameron to have a field day with pretty much any public service at the moment as Broon and the Treasury loons are busy forcing them to 'achieve year-on-year efficiency savings' (i.e., cuts) of 5%.
If you look closely, you'll see some quite spectacularly stupid minimum service standards being laid down for future rail franchises, knot-tyingly complex journey combinations used to maintain the figleaf that services are being maintained...I could go on, but the end result of these 'efficiency savings' is that some parts of the country will be lumbered with abysmally out of date rail services for another 10-15 years.

Tom said...

except that the infrastructure is now too far gone

Which bits? Why? Back it up a bit, please. It's nearly as good as it was under BR now, in terms of track condition, but signalling has suffered a bit. Still, recovering from what the morlocks at Railtrack did was always going to take a while. Let that be a lesson to anyone thinking of applying ideology without reason.

Incidentally, for most of my working life it's been quicker by public transport. I suggest anyone living on one side of London and working on the other might disagree with the contention that the car is quicker despite rush hour congestion.

RedEye said...

Not just Dr Beeching, and rail privatisation, but also bus deregulation (except London, where there is still a form of regulation). Douglas Alexander is looking at bringing back a limited form of regulation. Good, here's hoping. Four years ago where I live (in Leek) there were through services to Stoke railway station, Derby, Manchester, and Sheffield. Then First took over the local bus company. Now there are no through services to Derby, Manchester or Sheffield, and just a weekday through service to Stoke station. Instead of becoming more integrated, it's become even less integrated.

Raymond said...

Don't forget that rail is not the only public transport solution, snafu. There is a good network of buses in the Derby area (FYI redeye, there is the Trent Barton transpeak which goes from Manchester through Derby to Nottingham and back). Not forgetting that Nottingham itself has a popular tram system. It wouldn't take much improvement to persuade me to switch from bike to bus.