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Thursday, March 11, 1999 Published at 01:34 GMT


Roads to change

A BBC survey reveals what people really think about increasing congestion on Britain's roads, as our Transport Correspondent Simon Montague reports.

Government aims to reduce road congestion and encourage greater use of public transport are widely supported by the public but policies towards that objective are not.

Transport policy: What you want
According to a BBC survey, two-thirds of people would use their cars less if buses and trains were better. But most people are opposed to being charged to drive into towns or to use parking spaces at work.

Sally attard reports: "62% support higher taxes for better public transport"
National opinion polling company MORI carried out for the BBC what it believes to be the biggest survey of public attitudes to transport in the UK.

Its findings form the basis of an hour-long TV special called Braking Point in which motorists put themselves at the mercy of public transport and video the results.

Doubting change

Key transport issues have come under the spotlight in the survey and some surprising public attitudes have been revealed.

Most people, for example, accept that road congestion is a problem, and that building new motorways and trunk roads is not the answer.

[ image:  ]
But government efforts to tackle congestion and improve public transport are viewed with scepticism. There is, for example, comparatively weak support for new charges on motorists, or on employers who provide private parking spaces at work.

But perhaps most surprising is that almost half of those questioned would pay higher taxes for an improved transport system.

In line for particular criticism was the traditional school run. Cars involved in the daily ferrying of children to schools can make congestion during rush hour a great deal worse.

Many people back the idea of persuading parents and children that public transport is a better way of getting to school.

Driving for improvement

Perhaps the most under-exploited area for reducing traffic congestion is the introduction of new transport initiatives by employers.

[ image: Choosing an alternative to the car to get to school]
Choosing an alternative to the car to get to school
Yet nearly three-quarters of workers who currently drive say they would use free shuttle services to local stations or bus stops.

More than half of workers would welcome printed timetable information at work, loyalty points for employees using public transport and bus stops at the entrance to offices and factories.

There is low satisfaction with local transport planners. They are widely seen as failing to pay sufficient attention to the full range of road users, including buses and cyclists. On the other hand, 10% of those surveyed felt too much attention was given to cars.

Not surprisingly it was in London, where there is a comprehensive public transport system and car commuting is less common, that people saw least problems in adjusting to life without a car.

[ image:  ]
In rural areas, 86% said they would find it difficult to adjust their lifestyles to being carless.

MORI interviewed 3,119 adults by telephone in January and February 1999, across each of the 10 BBC English regions and the three BBC national areas of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Braking Point can be seen on BBC2 on Thursday 11 March at 1900 GMT.

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