on transport poverty 1

Just banking quotes from a couple of things from my backlog.

From the RAC:

The latest figures available show that out of average expenditure of ??473.60 in both car and non-car owning households expenditure, ??64.90 (14%) goes on transport, making it the single biggest area of expense.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
???Rightly, there is much concern about the four million households who need to spend more than 10% of their income to keep warm. Yet this figure is dwarfed by the 21 million households which spend over 10% on transport. For the average household transport is the single biggest outgoing, bar none.
???The situation is even starker when you look only at those homes which have a car or van. In these cases, the poorest fifth of households are spending at least 17% of income on a vehicle ??? leaving aside anything extra that goes on public transport.
???Just like heating our homes, most of us have to spend money on transport. There is no choice. While savings can be made at the margins by making fewer journeys and combining those which are essential, people have no option other than to go to work, visit the supermarket, see the doctor and take the children to school. That means paying for transport."

And from Sustrans:

This morning the RAC Foundation launched a remarkably similar piece of analysis and used it to call for cheaper fuel across the UK. This ignores the fact that an increasing number of people are already excluded from car ownership as a result of extortionate costs.

Across the UK, transport poverty is a devastating reality for millions. Fuel prices are going up and will not be coming down. As the certainty of peak oil hits home, more and more of us will be priced out of car ownership and there will not be alternative options in place.

As things currently stand, car dependency is an assumed condition for the entire British population. This??means that the transport system and spending on transport is focused on providing for car journeys. Those people who do no have a car often find themselves without public transport options and will no facilities in place for them to walk or cycle.

The government???s approach is unfair and outdated:

??? About a quarter of households do not have a car

??? Traffic figures for cars and taxis, which rose more or less every year since 1949, have fallen continuously since 2007.

??? Over the last 20 years, 80-90 per cent of people have said they would find it very difficult to adapt to not having a car

??? Over two thirds of car trips in Britain are less than 5 miles ??? many of these should be possible by public transport, on foot or by bike. Current transport funding does not seek to make this a reality.

I don't think I've ever seen the amount of households that are without a car being acknowledged in any "war on the motorist" report… perhaps I should start pestering them as much as the cycling mob now do with "road tax" stories?

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One thought on “on transport poverty

  • Paul M

    I haven???t read Glaister???s comments in full so I don???t know if he went on to say fuel should be cheaper, but I assume Sustrans reported that correctly. However, the fact is that you could give away fuel for free, and motoring would still be unaffordable for a sizeable portion of the population.A significant factor in transport poverty and in traffic congestion, working in from both directions, is the fact that cars are expensive to own, but cheap to run. Once you have forked out to buy, insure, tax, maintain, and MOT, the marginal cost per mile to run is measured in pence, and no other mode of transport besides walking and cycling can compete on price without heavy subsidy. On one hand that means that anyone who has put such a large dent in their finances will always use a car for preference unless other factors weigh against. With many journeys made by car which would be more rationally made by train or bus, public transport loses critical mass and is considered uneconomic in terms of cost or subsidy per passenger mile. On the other, precisely the people who continue to rely on public transport must do so because they can???t get over the initial hurdle of capital/standing cost.Can you make car ownership cheaper? Not really. You could perhaps reduce or eliminate VAT and similar charges on ownership, but even then the purchase price has to be found, and the insurance premium each year. It has to be maintained and repaired to avoid being a danger to other road users.If the necessity of car ownership is the current paradigm, that is because that suits the motor industry. For the manufacturers to survive, people have to continue buying cars, just as tobacco companies must find young converts to replace the people they kill every year. If you look back over the history of mass motor manufacture, you will find that hardly any companies in the US or Europe has consistently survived the threat of bankruptcy without state aid or subsidy. Our history is littered with such cases, eg British Leyland, and even now, Nissan???s grant aid for building a new model in Sunderland. The US is no different, with giants such as Chrysler and GM filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and major federal aid provided by the Obama administration. The industry must know how parasitic it really is, but to maintain sales and profits it must persuade governments that it is absolutely essential for a healthy growing economy, and liberal doses of financial inducement, paid for lobbying, and press/TV advertising are used to that effect. All the hangers-on are in much the same position ??? oil companies for fuel, car hire companies, retailers, repairers, insurers, and of course the AA and RAC, which depend on the same paradigm for their survival.You???re right. Banging on about ???road tax??? is not enough. You observe that 25% of households don???t have a car. I think the precise terminology is ???have access to a car??? ??? ownership is a great deal less than 75% and some of the balance are provided on restricted terms, eg primarily for work like a company van. It also hides the fact that a great deal more than 25% of potential drivers do not have access to a car. Most households have one car which must be shared, so at any time one of the adult householders does not have access. Look at a big city, and the proportions get much, much bigger. In Westminster, arguably the richest borough in the UK, more than 50% of households do not have access to a car.I don???t think it is realistic to get rid of the car altogether. It is often very useful and it is liberating. We just need to change the paradigm about how we access one. Perhaps we should make car ownership cheaper through changes in taxation on the capital cost, insurance etc, while making use much more expensive through fuel duty, road pricing, or parking charges. That would perhaps reduce usage and congestion, and make public transport more competitive, more worthwhile for operators to provide and thus more accessible to all. Or we could incentivise a different model of ownership, through shared ownership or car clubs, where you pay quite a modest monthly charge (because the asset is much more efficiently used) and a more realistic mileage charge. That would no doubt also reduce overall usage as people recognise the effort needed to locate a free car and the marginal cost of every mile they drive.Perhaps that would see more short trips walked, and more medium length (2-5 miles) cycled.