Lack of investment in public transport is compounding snow misery

By staff writers
22 Dec 2010

The current disruption to travel services caused by snow highlights successive governments' failure to invest in sustainable transport infrastructure.

That was the claim made early this week by the Green Party in England and Wales yesterday. Scottish Greens have been similarly critical, as have environmental campaigners of all political parties and none, and the advocacy group Campaign for Better Transport (formerly Transport 2000), which promotes better bus and rail services and less expenditure on road building.

A lack of provision for extreme weather means that the UK transport system has been overwhelmed by the recent heavy snow, with thousands of people stranded, and Christmas travel plans disrupted.

Snow is one in a long list of problems facing road users. The price of petrol has reached record highs, roads are increasingly congested, and carbon emissions from the transport sector are continuing to rise. These problems are all set to worsen.

The Green Party argues that the never-ending misery for travellers highlights the need for a shift towards funding a more reliable public transport system. This would go some way towards addressing the travel chaos caused by snow, and keep the UK moving during bad weather, it declares.

If public transport is to be a real alternative to road travel, new rail and bus routes need to be opened and existing ones improved, the Greens say - adding that the reliability of trains needs to be improved, and exceptional weather factored into design.

The party wants to see "massive investment" in public transport, in order to improve rail and bus services. This investment would have many economic and social advantages, including job creation, safer streets and improved air quality, they suggest.

The Campaign for Better Transport (http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/) agrees, and is currently campaigning against government cuts. "We want good, affordable public transport that connects us all to jobs, services, and friends and family, and protects our environment," the pressure group says.

[Ekk/3]

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