Osborne should support squeezed rail & bus users

Published on Thursday, 23 August 2012 12:33
Written by Scott Buckler

The Chancellor should avoid further delays in fuel duty increases and, instead, improve rail and bus services, according to a new report published by the think tank IPPR today

The report says that rail and bus users are being hit twice by the high cost of fares and cuts in services while many poorer families have no access to alternative transport. By contrast, it argues that motorists can cut costs by switching to smaller and more fuel-efficient cars and by cutting out non-essential journeys.

The report argues there is no 'war on motorists' and shows that between 1997 to 2010, rail fares rose by 66.2 per cent while all motoring costs rose by just 32.5 per cent,equivalent to a 6.6 per cent fall in real terms. Bus and coach fares rose most of all, by 76.1 per cent.

Last week the Government announced that many rail fares will rise by 6.2 per cent and by 11 per cent in some cases. Meanwhile, the Chancellor has already announced delays in fuel duty increases costing taxpayers £2.8 billion or £14 billion over five years.

Will Straw, IPPR Associate Director, said:

"No number of Tax Payers Alliance petitions will change the facts. Compared to users of public transport, there is no war on motorists.

"Rail and bus users have seen fares spiral out of control while the cost of driving has actually fallen over the last decade. Users of public transport rarely have an alternative, while car drivers can switch to smaller and more fuel-efficient cars and cut out non-essential journeys.

"Given the pressures on the public purse, the Chancellor should avoid further delays in fuel duty and think again on rail fare hikes."

The report recommends:

  • Government should make every effort to avoid further delays in fuel duty increases
  • Government and local agencies should look for new ways to extend road pricing and congestion charging, particularly where these can provide a future revenue stream to finance improvements in public transport infrastructure and services.
  • Measures to improve bus and coach services, which are the most accessible form of public transport, particularly in areas with poor rail connections, should also be prioritised. Given that bus fares have increased more than for any other mode of transport, priority should be given to bringing down these costs.
  • Improvements in public transport, walking and cycling facilities should also be supported through an increase in government support for transport capital projects. Given the current low interest rates, there is a real opportunity available now to make much-needed improvements in public transport and other infrastructure that can increase patronage and reduce the environmental impacts of existing fleets and stock. The nascent Green Investment Bank should be empowered to begin borrowing immediately to support these projects

Source: ©IPPR

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