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Impotent message


Seldom have I read anything written by a county surveyor on transport strategy that does not use that meaningless term 'balanced'.

Between 1977 and 1997, the cost of public transport rose in real terms by 75%, while the cost of motoring decreased by 6%. This process unfolded in the context of the many socalled balanced transport policy plan submissions during this period, all characterised by a strong emphasis on road building and environmentally justified bypasses.

If balance is defined as stability, as most people understand it, the fact that UK car use continues to grow unabated, while bus and train use declines, is proof enough that transport incentives remain distinctly out of balance.

Edward Chorlton (Debate last week) attempts to analyse the causes of congestion in terms that suggest these were outside the control of transport planners.

But why are routes for alternative modes unsafe or discontinuous? Why is public transport sporadic and expensive? Why do too many motorists try to access cheap town centre parking? These outcomes are nothing more than the product of ill conceived policies over many decades.

Inappropriate development, supported by road building programmes, have generated millions of daily trips and levels of car dependency that would have been unimaginable even a generation ago. The impotence of civil engineers in Britain to provide effective leadership on this matter could be the single biggest cause of the profession's relatively low status compared to its continental counterparts.

Brian Hanson (M), Architects & Engineers for Social Responsibility 1 Searles View, Horsham, RH12 4FG.

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