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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Cars crushed in eco-transport bid
Car being put into a crusher
The scheme is to get more people to use public transport
Car-owners in Newport have been given the chance to send their vehicles to the crusher - in exchange for free public transport.

Five motorists took up the offer to scrap their cars from the city's council.

It is aimed at cutting congestion and encouraging commuters to switch to public transport or cycling.

In exchange, they will receive free travel on Arriva Trains Wales and the city's bus network for a year.

The vehicles, all roadworthy with valid MoT, tax and insurance, were crushed on Thursday.

Friends of the Earth Cymru (FoE) has welcomed the initiative.

The scheme is part of the local authority's contribution to European Mobility Week (September 16-22), promoting sustainable transport such as cycling, walking, public transport and car-sharing.

The five drivers have received a year's free transport on Arriva Trains Wales and Newport Transport.

Geraint Roberts
I know my parents will be a bit upset at the thought of the family car going but times move on
Now car-less commuter Geraint Roberts

The first person to take up the offer was Newport council worker Geraint Roberts, 27, who volunteered his G-registration Volvo 740.

The 1990 vehicle, worth about 500, had 120,000 miles on the clock and Mr Roberts said it would be more useful for him to have the free rail travel for his 22-mile commute from Pontyclun.

He said: "It has been in the family a long time and it has been passed down. I know my parents will be a bit upset at the thought of the family car going, but times move on.

"It was a bit sad watching the car being crushed and it is a bit funny seeing it end up in this position but it is for a good cause.

"The older cars are petrol guzzlers and having my car crushed is going to give me the push I need to use public transport.

"The bus and rail networks are good and the only inconvenience for me is that I can't just jump into the car when I want to go to the shops."

Martin Dolan, from the company Capita Symonds, is helping to run the scheme, which he said was the first of its kind in Wales.

He said: "The whole idea is to break people's cycle of travelling by car. Hopefully, if we can get people on to public transport they will actually see the benefits and continue to travel via that mode."

Council figures claim that more than 80% of all journeys in urban areas are taken by private car, with just 12% taken on public transport.

Crushed car
Mr Roberts said he was sad to see his car crushed

Newport East AM John Griffiths and the Mayor of Newport Ken Critchley started the machine which crushed the donated cars in a lunchtime ceremony at the top of High Street.

FoE transport spokesman Neil Crumpton said: "Anything that makes people think about using the public transport has got to be good".

He added: "It's a very innovative scheme, especially as there is a proposal for a new motorway to the south of the city.

"The sort of cars that are going to be attracted by this sort of scheme are likely to be the older, more polluting vehicles".

On 22 September, the council holds a In Town Without My Car Day.

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