LABOURS FIRST real Budget for 18 years appears to making some steps in the right direction as far as developing integrated transport infrastructure goes. The extra 500M for public transport will be welcomed by NCE readers. You told us in last months integrated transport questionnaire that you wanted more affordable, accessible, safer, cleaner regular and better funded public transport. And you backed the Chancellors decision this week to tax petrol and company cars harder increase the cost of car use and make them damned difficult to use, you said.
Also to be welcomed are tax cuts on bus fuel which will, hopefully feed through to cheaper fares and higher usage.
The question now is has the Chancellor gone far enough? Invesment in public transport is one thing, but getting people out of their cars is another. Brown has tentatively tried to penalise company car owners who are one of the main causes of congestion during the city rush hours. But increasing taxes on petrol provided free to company car owners by employers by a measly 1 a week (on average) is hardly going to make them to switch to bus or train. More effective measures might result from research to see whether motorists should be given incentives to cut down on mileage, although this remains to be seen.
Making public transport a credible alternative to the car is still the challenge. All will be revealed in May when the government publishes its integrated transport White Paper. Only then we will know how far the government is really prepared to go.