Monday, July 20, 1998 Published at 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Prescott's ticket to ride: What you think
I am all for reducing rush hour traffic. However I am concerned about the focus on the school run. I have 2 children, one 8 years and with Cerebral Palsy - how is she to get to school other than by car? My second daughter would walk but is frequently laden with coat, bag of books, games kit, clarinet and saxophone - impossible to carry. We encourage our eldest daughter to cycle to the shops, but fear her bike will get stolen as there is no secure place to leave it. I would like to see the introduction of 'buddy lanes' as in California, I am sure that when I am sharing a car on the way to work that at least 75% of the cars around us have only one occupant. I fully support the improvement of public transport and would like to see emphasis put on disabled access to trains, buses and station platforms.
The price of public transportation continues to go up and now you're going to charge even more for driving (on top of car taxes and petrol taxes). Fantastic.
As there is no viable alternative for many commuters to driving to work, is the outcome of new charges for accessing cities as well as increased fuel prices and possible toll charges not going to affect inflation rates and pay settlements more so than traffic congestion?
Labour has really left its socialist beliefs well behind on this one - are
only the rich and privileged going to be left with the freedom offered
by a car?
My little girl's school is 25 minutes walk away from home.
*My place of work is another 20 minutes walk beyond that.
*Cars race around the estate where my 5 year-old goes to school and at
40 mph down the 30 mph limit road she has to cross to get there.
*The school has no bike sheds
*A speed limit of 20 mph would speed traffic flow as one could actually join a road without having to dart out.
*A 20 mph urban limit would be safer for pedestrians.
*Vehicles that do 20 mph more naturally and with less pollution (bikes) should be encouraged more.
*Speeds limits should be enforced.
*The car park at my workplace will just lie empty if we get charged and people will park and clog up the road outisde - next to the local primary school!
*The government should have done more research - these proposals are too weak.
I am a committed cyclist - not because I am an environmentalist, but because it is one of the best ways to get to work. We are very lucky to have dedicated off road cycle tracks in our area. Mainly using the old railway they are safe from motorists and probably fairly safe from assault due to the volume of traffic using the routes.
Most cycle tracks along side roads are more dangerous than no track at all. When a cycle lane intersects a side road, the cyclist is required to give way - however it is not always possible to tell when a car is going straight on or turning, so crossing the side road can be quite dangerous. If you are on the main road, the side road only presents a problem if someone tries to overtake and then turn left immediately. I understand that in a study in Milton Keynes 6 serious accidents occurred associated with a cycle track and only one associated with a road - I don't know what this proves, but just 'sticking' a cycle lane to the pavement may not be ideal.
I think it is fantastic that the government is now taking these sorts of measures to curb car use. They could however, have taken this opportunity to be much tougher. A tax on retail car spaces really should have been implemented to deter people from making unnecessary journeys and to ensure that drivers appreciate the true costs involved in using their cars.
By choice, I'm not a car user/owner. I commute to my workplace, around 10 minutes away, and use the company's mini-van that runs continuously between the main buildings and the nearest main town. I can reach most places by bus and train and save a lot of money doing so, compared to having a car.
I currently use my bike and the train to commute to London. I prefer to have a bike at each end of the journey - but the one in London only lasted 4 weeks before being stolen (it was a rusty heap - but that still didn't save it). I don't do this to be green - but because I like not driving.
I live in Cornwall, where jobs, particularly in fields like IT, are very scarce. Public transport is limited, particularly over long distances. By car, my journey takes 30 minutes each way, from St Austell to Liskeard. When the trains are on time it takes about an hour each way due to the walk at each end. However 3/5ths of the time a train is late by half an hour or more. This often leads to an hour and a half plus commuting time home.
I read your article with interest. Each time I read such related articles I am amazed that no one seems to be looking at the poor depleted public transport system. Instead of the government restricting the use of the car I should like to see the following constructive improvements.
In reference to the supposed alarm I should feel at seeing the amount of time spent sitting it traffic queues:
I currently commute from Winchester to Basingstoke daily, with a journey time of approximately 30 minutes. Admittedly, on occasion I am forced to sit in a traffic queue that may add a further five minutes to my journey. Summed over the year in which I work this comes to a total of around 4 hours 'wasted'.
Yes I would willingly leave my car at home if a viable alternative were available. It would have to be no more expensive than my car journey, regular, reliable, and easily navigated.
Many people need to use their car as part of their work ie care workers, social workers etc. It would really be unfair to require these people to abandon the use of cars. There is a big hype about reducing car usage but there are other ways to reduce the impact of pollution and we are getting better and better at finding ways to tackle the effects. Why not concentrate on the use of smaller cars? The last budget was very encouraging when the Chancellor announced a low level of car tax for small cars. Cars are here to stay and unless and until public transport equates to picking you up from your doorstep and back whenever you need to travel, cars will not be eliminated from the face of this world.
In short public transport is so very, very bad, unreliable etc etc. I live in Gloucester and have to drive to Dursley every day. There is no regular public transport service that would not eat all of my money but now Mr Prescott is telling us that he wants to tax us even more. It's a joke, it really is. I struggle to survive on my wage as it is, maybe I should go onto income support and stay at home, because pretty soon that's all I am going to be able to afford to do. I voted Labour in the election and there is NO WAY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH I WOULD VOTE FOR THEM AGAIN.
I question how radical or effective these proposals will really be when the government has already passed over their first opportunity to tackle road congestion. In the previous tax changes they could have reversed the nature of company car taxes so that you are taxed less for driving less private miles instead of being taxed less when you drive MORE business miles. Also, the provision of 'fully expensed' cars, where all petrol, including petrol for private use, is paid for by the company, should have been taxed far more heavily.
I would personally suffer from these changes being made. However I voted for Labour because I believed they were right for the country. At some point they will have to risk upsetting some of their voters!
I live in London SW12, close to Clapham South tube. I work near Tower Hill. I usually commute by car. If the Government's proposals result in my paying more to drive to work, that is likely to be a good thing. If it has the effect everyone seems to think it will have (not guaranteed, though!), then it will result in fewer cars on the road, and a faster journey time for me.
I totally agree with all the proposals mentioned as long as adequate, feasible and safe alternatives are provided. The first hurdle is really making people aware that it is possible to live without a car.
My husband and I live in Oxford and cycle a total of 6 miles to work and back everyday. We don't have a car, even though we could afford one, as it's practically impossible to park in Oxford and the traffic is so bad. We don't resent the fact that we don't have a car. In fact, on the contrary, our lives are much better without one. We are much fitter and find the journey quicker, and it's much more flexible as we can stop off on the way and do shopping, sports, go to the cinema etc and not worry about parking. We do all our shopping on our bikes so only buy essential things which also means we are eating healthier.
Mr Prescott seems to think we all live next to a bus stop or train station and that they run when and where people want them to. Dream on! I live in Staffordshire in a small town lucky enough to have retained its train station, however trains only run every hour, (when on time which is rare) with no service after 8.00 at night and no service before 2.00pm on Sundays. Local bus services also fail to run in the evenings. The local school is just over a mile away, granted close enough to walk, but has Prescott tried walking a four and five year old over a mile in the pouring rain? I think not. The nearest bus stop is over half way there and then the fare is over 80p one way for adults and 50p for children. £5.20 a day for the return trip!
I work in Birmingham a distance of 33 miles, about 1 hour in the car. By train I would have to make three changes and assuming all is on time the journey would take 2.5 hours! plus a mile walk to the station (in the pouring rain). I would have to catch the first train at 6.00am to be in work for 9.00am. No chance of working beyond 5.00pm or else I would not be able to get back before the last train on the local line.
Wake up Mr Prescott, Join the REAL world.
About the school run: it is noticeable how empty the roads are during a school holiday. SUSTRANS have a proven policy of developing safe routes to schools that enhance their safety and provide safe road crossings and avoid confrontation with traffic.
Mr Prescott's plans must take the nation up on its appetite for change and test how hungry it is . But only if it is backed with funds to do it properly.
I'm nearly 30, and I've never owned a car. In fact, I don't even have a driving licence. I lived carlessly (sic) in England for 27 years, and I'm now living carlessly in Boston Massachusetts.
For me, it's been a matter of choosing to live somewhere with good public transport and community nearby. People who choose to live miles away from where they work, shop and live need to be more aware that they're being profligate. It's time we stopped subsidising their lifestyles and made drivers pay for the environmental costs of their driving.
That's all I ask: that the taxes on cars and other vehicles completely cover the costs of those vehicles, including all the road maintenance plus the costs of cleaning up the pollution and treating all the people injured by cars each day. Currently the road tax doesn't even cover the costs of the roads. And let's make it fair - let's collect more tax from the vehicles which pollute the most, take up the most space and cause the most injuries and damage to property.
Let's have a real free market, where the drivers pay their own way and don't leech off the rest of us. That would soon make them reconsider their use of their expensive toys.
I would love to use public transport to travel to work from Addlestone (Surrey) to Marlow (Bucks). It usually takes me 40 mins by car (even in rush hour). Does anyone have any suggestions as to how this journey can be accomplished in under 3 hours by public transport?
Surely this is only one set of options - what about incentives to increase home working now that the technology is advancing so much? What about incentives to car share? Surely it is better to reduce the need to travel as well as find other more environmentally friendly methods.
From my point of view the thought of using 3 different modes of transport, the time taken, the lack of control over my own environment mean that I will always favour the car for business travel and inclement weather - I spent too many years when I had little money waiting for buses in the rain and cold - but I do try to use bikes for pleasure and shopping to reduce car use.
Time will always mean more to me than money and making it more expensive and awkward to travel will simply cause resentment.
Leaving cars at home is all very well, but last night I caught the 19.18 Great Western train from Plymouth to Paddington - it was over 3 hours late in arriving. If this is the public transport alternative I shall certainly continue to use my car, whatever the cost.
I absolutely agree, we must reduce the amount of traffic clogging up our roads and consuming vast amounts of irreplaceable fossil fuels. I gave up using my car to travel the 25 miles from my home to work just under a year ago. The bus takes longer (it visits several villages on the way) but it costs about the same (about £20 per week) as the car AND I can even manage up to half an hour's sleep on the way. It also means that I'm not wearing out my clutch sitting in the inevitable traffic jams, especially during term time.
In theory it is a good idea, but in practice it will stop no one. A reliable bus and train service is years away from coming to fruition; one cannot simply cut the numbers of cars on the road without giving the road user a cheap, convenient and reliable alternative. Very little thought has been given to the problem. Perhaps John Prescott will think differently when he is well over an hour late for an important appointment just because he dared use our ramshackle public transport system. The electorate would appreciate it if someone close to John Prescott would give him a nudge and wake him up.
While I am strongly in favour of taking measures to encourage other forms of transport than the motor car, I believe the emphasis should be placed on the development of a well structured and affordable transport system. In my previous work, I used the car to commute a distance of 15 miles. This journey would take me on average 25 minutes, including some time stationary in traffic. I considered taking the bus, as I would much rather spend the time reading than driving, but was put off because of two fundamental problems. 1. The bus took more that one hour, and only went in each direction twice a day. 2. The cost of taking the bus daily just to work would be more than my entire expenses for the car for all uses, about 12000 miles per year.
I do not drive but have contemplated it just because travelling by tube is so expensive. I have also heard that they are planning to raise prices even higher. If the government really wants to make public transport more accessible then they need to make it cheaper.
I think the proposals are disgraceful.
Most of us NEED to work and I most certainly NEED to use my car to get to work.
If Mr Prescott can show me a convenient way of getting from my home in Finchampstead to my workplace in Marlow using public transport then I would happily use it. I do not get a company car so the expense is all mine to bear for the car itself and any of the policies he adopts.
It's high time something was done to stop the British cult of car power. As a cyclist who travels through central London every day, I have constantly to avoid motorists who act as if I have no right to use the road. What really angers me is the fact that most cars appear to be occupied by a single passenger, who seems happy to sit in traffic jams and pollute the atmosphere for completely selfish reasons. Yet with the state of the city's streets as they are, and the poor public transport on offer, there is at present little incentive for motorists to switch. Indeed in three years of commuting by bike, I have suffered three accidents - none of which were my fault. And while I have no sympathy with cyclists who constantly go through red lights and harass pedestrians - sometimes it feels as though the whole transport system is geared up against you. Motorists have had it too easy for too long - an integrated public transport system for Britain? It's about time!