Public Transport, the way forward?

Does traffic congestion get you down? A study by the Road Users Alliance has revealed (surprise, surprise!) that Britain has more cars per motoring mile than any other country in the EU.

Is this because we have more cars than they do? No, it's because we have fewer roads.

The UK motorway network is now considered to be the worst in Europe and the study lists our roads as being on a par with Lithuania, Slovakia and Hungary. And since half the population of Eastern Europe is moving to Britain, I'd say things are going to get worse before they get better.

So what are our talented (not to say visionary) leaders doing about it?

Well, they're continuing to increase both direct and indirect taxes on road transport of course, and they are awfully keen on congestion charges. So, with the £45 billion the Treasury has misappropriated from road users last year (less, of course, the £7.5 billion they actually spent on the roads) they are 'investing' in public transport.

The idea then, is to price everyone off the roads and into public transport.

Obviously this isn't going to work.

For a start, 88% of our freight travels by road. There are some people who really believe that putting our economy into reverse is the way forward, but presumably even people who knit their own sandals will want to eat.

And as for passenger traffic, an overwhelming 92% travels by road.

We need to encourage people and business to consider alternative means of transport they say.

Like what?

Buses? Trains? Do you really want to travel in dirty, overcrowded conditions on an uncomfortable, unreliable service, often in the company of nasty, smelly people? They don't start from where you are, they don't stop where you want to be, and the price of a season ticket can be more than the price of a good second hand car. The environment? Even the environmental lobby has been forced to admit that a fully loaded car is greener than a fully loaded train on a per person basis.

It makes no sense, does it?

The only form of public transport that seems to work is the budget airlines. And this, I think, is because they are not trying to provide a public service. They just want to make a profit. So they have to give the customers what they want.

A better road network makes sense financially and economic collapse is unlikely to benefit the environment in the long term. So why don't they just spend our money (which they've already got) building the roads we desperately need?

I think I know.

The default mode of most of the people and organisations responsible for transport policy is an ingrained dislike of motor transport. Control is the name of the game (think ID cards, DNA databases, iris recognition etc.) Freedom to travel (like most freedoms) is something of an anathema to those who subscribe to this philosophy.

They dream of a world where people live in little communities, everyone cheerfully working for the greater good, with no need or desire to travel beyond the boundaries of their own little eco-friendly, multicultural, self sustaining, caring, sharing collective farm. With them in charge of course.

Sounds a bit Stalinist doesn't it? Well I'm obviously exaggerating for effect, but one day the technology to install a micro chip in your head will exist. All in your own best interests of course. Until, that is, you start to think unauthorised thoughts about the government and a civil servant with a laptop switches off your brain.