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Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 10:52 GMT
Is our transport really getting better?
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling will admit on Tuesday that the government is not meeting targets in its 10-year transport plan.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, Mr Darling will state that efforts to cut congestion by 5% on the UK's roads are failing.

Ahead of the Commons announcement, he told the BBC tackling congestion was a "far more difficult nut to crack" than people had thought two years ago when the plan was formulated.

He said that there would be "significant reductions" in congestion over 10 years but given the high level of economic growth, more needed to be done.

Mr Darling may use his statement to announce new measures to tackle congestion.

The Department for Transport has already said it is "unlikely" targets will be met by the end of the decade.

What action should be taken to resolve Britain's road nightmare? Are wider motorways the answer? Or should the government do more to encourage people to use public transport?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Perhaps if the Government artificially limited petrol availability

Greg, England
In the last three years, the bus service from my rural village to Bristol has more than doubled, and is now running once an hour. It still takes forever, and stops at 6pm, but it's a definite improvement. During the (obscene and unjustifiable) fuel protests, bus attendance roughly doubled on my route, and traffic generally was a lot smoother, and clearer. Perhaps if the Government artificially limited petrol availability, people would make better use of the existing infrastructure, which is primarily clogged up by a vast number of single people, driving the largest car they can find, and filling up all the space?
Greg, England

We need to learn from our European neighbours who have generally handled transport problems much better than us. Faster, cheaper, safer and more punctual non-privatised trains for a start. The abolition of cars from many city centres.
Richard Watkins, UK

The challenge of replacing the car with public transport is almost impossible. Even if you take into account the cost of fuel, parking and maintenance the cost and convenience of using a car is unbeatable, especially if you have more than one person in the vehicle. What's needed are new ideas that embrace both modes of transport.
Philip, USA

Why do we still have rush hours? Perhaps if we had a rethink of our culture and adopted a more flexible approach to working time we would not need all the train capacity and multi-laned motorways for just 2 hours at each end of the day. Consideration should be given to specific tolls at rush hour times to encourage people to head for work from 6am to 10am with fares/tolls cheaper at the extremes of these times but high at the traditional peaks.
Dave Farmer, England

It seems strange that in all the media discussions on congestion, simple factors such as finding the optimum sequencing for traffic lights and allocating appropriate speed limits are missed. Congestion might be artificially created this way, so that charging can be introduced to generate revenue.
Matt Selby, UK

It's not all doom and gloom

John, England
Clearly road congestion has grown much worse over the last five years, but where I live (South Oxfordshire) the train and bus services have improved dramatically over the same period. I now have the benefit of an integrated train and bus network with timetables that match up, so it's not all doom and gloom.
John, England

Wider motorways? Excuse me while I choke on my muesli! Cars should be charged to enter city centres and to travel on motorways. Money raised should be directed towards improving our public transport network. It really IS this simple.
Donny, Scotland

Public transport? What's that? An annual rail ticket can cost thousands and doesn't even guarantee a seat - let alone guarantee the train turning up on time. And they wonder why the roads are so congested...
Kate, UK

They drive because they've not even thought of the alternatives

Andy Gates, UK
It's disingenuous to suggest that congestion is an inevitable consequence of prosperity. Congestion is a result of people travelling - and people travel much more than they need. I have co-workers who drive two hundred yards to our local supermarket at lunchtime for a sandwich and then complain at the jams and lack of parking. They drive because they've not even thought of the alternatives. An ad campaign might prod people's minds.
Andy Gates, UK

Well - I commute each day from Kent using Connex SE and things have got a lot worse recently. Since the annual "leaves on line" debacle in October I have not been on a single train that has arrived on time. At my local station, Tonbridge, they have even seemed to stop giving out information on the tannoy. Some delays I can put up with but when we are left stranded with little or know information passengers start to get very irate.
Martin, Kent

Yes, I find my journey to work has got a lot easier in recent years. I walk there and back and never get stuck in a traffic jam or have my train cancelled. It's true that I had to pay more to buy a house close to the city centre - but I make that money back on not paying for petrol or bus fares. I encourage more people to do the same! (It'll get you fitter too).
David, Wales, UK

Improve the ideas, not the roads.

Road congestion ? The answer is simple, cheap and easy to implement, all that¿s required is a little innovation and some change to working patterns. Roads are rarely congested between 7pm and 7am, so the problem isn¿t that we need wider and more roads, we just need to make better use of the ones we have. How....more people should be encouraged to work from home (easy and effective with the right IT), haulage firms should be give incentives (no vehicle tax!!) to make delivers at night, employment packages should include public transport passes (not car tax incentives), much more flexible hours...etc. In some US towns, the sale of a house must include a 3 year public transport pass for the new owner. Improve the ideas, not the roads.
GFH, Canada

Is transport getting better?



2615 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

17 Dec 02 | Politics
10 Dec 02 | England
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