Monday, 19 September 2005

Transport News - Autumn 2005

In June 2005, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling started a national debate by reaffirming Government plans to introduce a nationwide system of road pricing to help tackle congestion. He believes that unless we take a radical step we face LA-style congestion problems. He wants a per mile charge varying by time of day and degree of congestion, but leaves it unclear how the charge would be imposed. He doesn’t want it to be on top of existing fuel and road tax, but doesn’t say whether road charges would replace the other two taxes.

Road pricing won’t happen nationwide for ten years, although there will be a regional trial by the end of the decade. Friends of the Earth supports the principle of road pricing, and believes it could be part of the answer to our transport problems. However, the scheme must aim to cut climate change emissions as well as congestion; and the charges must be set to raise the overall cost of motoring, so drivers are not given money back through cutting fuel tax.

Sheffield Friends of the Earth’s new transport group was formed in early 2005. So far the group has sent in four responses to the Council’s Local Transport Plans. We have requested, amongst other things, more support for car clubs, electric vehicles, bus lanes, cycling and the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Shaun sent a letter to the Sheffield Star explaining the benefits of car clubs. Rebecca has been busy looking at bus quality corridors and also First’s pricing policy. Other areas the group will be looking at during the next year are:

Bus Quality Corridors
Real time information systems
Tram gate cameras
Station based cycle hire scheme and better cycle parking at the station.
M1 Widening