Warning over cuts in transport spending

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A cut in transport budgets could lead to big hikes in rail fares, more potholes and fewer buses, a report from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said today.

Train fares could rise by 33% in this Parliament if fares increased annually by the rate of RPI inflation plus 3%, the report said.

Overcrowding on trains will increase without extra carriages while it is vital to properly maintain the roads, the CBT added.

Cutting the Government's bus service operator grant would result in 7% fewer services, a 6.5% fares increase and 94 million fewer miles of supported services.

CBT executive director Stephen Joseph said: "Our research shows that on transport spending the Government has a choice.

"It can go for easy cuts, taking money out of all budgets, upping fares and giving priority to big roads. Or it can go for smarter cuts which protect the spending that helps the economy, meets carbon and environmental targets and strengthens communities."

He said existing train services should be protected and enhanced but there was a danger that if significant cuts were made in the wrong places, "there will be increased overcrowding, fares rises and reduced or slower services".

Mr Joseph added that roadbuilding projects were poor value for money and maintaining, and making better use of, existing roads should be the priority.

He went on: "There is a real danger that buses will become extinct outside the centres of cities and towns, as funding for them will be under threat."