UK drivers "rejecting public transport"

Report underlines challenge to government attempts to reduce impacts of car use

British drivers are increasingly determined to travel by car than to use public transport, according to a report commissioned by motoring association the Royal Automobile Club (RAC). A growing number of motorists will not travel by bus or train on the grounds that journeys are longer and more expensive than by car, the public opinion survey concludes.

The report underlines the political obstacles to government attempts to reduce environmental impacts from escalating car use by promoting public transport and increasing the costs of driving. An ambitious new green transport policy was launched 18 months ago (ENDS Daily 21 July 1998), but ran into public and industrial opposition and has now largely lost its momentum.

According to the survey, British motorists are aware of environmental problems, but are more concerned with price, fuel economy, safety and reliability. Only 32% of those polled believed that air pollution was a critical problem. Few supported the idea of higher fuel prices, electric cars or fitting cars with speed limiters.

The survey also claims that motorists have cut their use of public transport since a previous poll in 1988. Over 80% said they never used buses compared with 65% twelve years ago. Drivers argue that travelling to work on public transport takes three times as long and costs over UK£200 (euros 329) more per year than by car.

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