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Calculating a cost for transport options

WILL PEOPLE be dragged screaming and kicking from their cars or will a viable and welcoming alternative be there to tempt them?

Speakers and delegates debated A question of transport on 4 March at a conference jointly organised by the North Nottinghamshire & North Derbyshire and Nottingham, Derby & Leicester branches.

The aim was to assess the influences and perceived problems which form the key issues to be addressed in the forthcoming integrated transport White Paper. Current planning policies and the development of workable changes also came under the spotlight.

One aspect kept recurring during the day. Will change be achieved by the carrot or the stick?

The main interest in the meeting lay with the concept of reducing the growth of private car usage combined with an increase in public transport, and this theme developed throughout the day.

Damage caused by transport could be put at an environmental cost of between 3bn and 11bn a year, depending on who is giving the figures, said Friends of the Earth senior transport campaigner Roger Higman. He looked in detail at the environmental, social and economic impacts of transport on society. Although transport was not the sole cause of pollution, it has caused high levels of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and hydrocarbons.

Terry Mulroy, of Tranport Planning International, demonstrated the predicted growth in private car ownership and outlined the major disbenefits of allowing the trends to continue unabated. He spoke about the decline in use of public transpoort and also the reduction in cycling and walking.

Nottinghamshire has developed its transport strategy around three main headings: infrastructure and revenue support; education, publicity and marketing; and mobility management.

Team leader of the strategic transport section Steve Calvert explained how the idea was to have a package of measures tailored for the different needs of the community, be they inner city or rural in nature.

There are unfair advantages enjoyed by users of private transport, said National Express general manager John Harrison. As long as the cost of using a car is artificially low, and does not reflect the true cost of travel, public transport will not be competing on a level playing field, he said.

London Regional Transport director of planning David Bayliss spoke about the progress being made in London to develop the integrated public transport theme, with schemes under way or being planned.

Work is not a place, but an activity, said British Telecoms East Midlands general manager John Small. The office is merely the traditional place to do work, something that he would like to change. Teleworking does not necessarily mean home working he said. It can be done from wherever the person is, whether at home, in the car or at the office of a client. Not everyone, nor every job, is suited to teleworking, studies have shown. But where it is used, considerable benefits have been measured, he said.

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