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Horses for courses

Letters to the Editor

One important statistic emerged from the details given for the five trips taken by NCE reporters to test the concept of integrated transport (NCE 19/26 August), namely the kilometres per hour of the journeys.

Only the journey from Hereford to St Albans showed a reasonable speed of nearly 60kph. Every other journey produced travel times which have no comparison with the time it would take to do the same journey by a private car.

Frankly, few people would have the time to spare nearly seven hours to travel by bus from Norfolk to the East Midlands airport lugging a heavy suitcase when they could undertake the same journey by car in half the time. Equally the 35km journey from Manchester Airport to Lostock Hall which took 2hr 15mins (15.5kph) could have been done in quarter of the time by car using the motorway.

What the article reveals is what common sense suggests, namely that public transport provides a real alternative to the private car on the main routes in and between the major conurbations and wins hands down on longer journeys, but it does not and cannot compete on economic grounds with the car on other journeys.

The Government's new Commission on Integrated Transport will need to begin its work by recognising the realities of modern life and why people use their cars, if they are to have any chance of improving matters.

Nicholas Bennett, chief executive, Association of Consulting Engineers, Alliance House, 12 Caxton Street, London SW1H 0QL

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