Letter: Transport free-for-all has brought our cities to a standstill

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The Independent Online
AS LONG ago as April 1962, I wrote to a Sunday newspaper drawing attention to the chaotic travel conditions in the centre of some of our cities. The situation today is not only far worse but a very worrying example of the inefficiency that obtains when a free-for-all, profit-only motive rules the roads. Your publication, therefore, of the findings of the Royal Commission on transport ('The reign of the car must end,' says Royal Commission', 25 September) was a breath of fresh air and an expose of the ineptitude of transport policy in this country.

Ideological dogma for privatisation and for the artificial insemination of the profit motive into every aspect of public life is gradually eroding the public transport system in this country. This is not what the vast majority of voters want. The Government knows, from the many poll results that have been published, that over 80 per cent of the country wants a first-class public transport system.

The voters - extraordinary as it might seem - are almost totally disregarded. Last year, I conducted an anonymous poll of City professionals and staff: 96 per cent said they were not satisfied with the standard of public transport and 83 per cent said it should be subsidised by the state.

Instead of supporting the country's excellent railway system with the injection of funding it requires to attract transport back from the roads, the Government is planning to spend billions on the roads. The only result will be further traffic and congestion. This could have been remedied years ago by providing efficient parking facilities, two miles outside the metropolis for all those wishing to use private cars, so that the centre of the City and central London would be kept free for a first-class public bus service, the Underground and for taxis.

Concern, of course, has vastly increased over the last 30 years because of the incalculable environmental damage caused by the dissipation of carbon monoxide fumes from traffic, which is often nearly stationary.

On many occasions over the last two or three years, I have been able to walk faster than the run of traffic and yet this system is permitted to continue without any effective action being taken.

I very much hope that your newspaper will maintain a continuing campaign to advance the interests of public transport, to restrict the use of private cars during business hours in the centre of London and our other cities, and to press for a stop to the loss of more and more land to provide roads which will rapidly become congested and which serve as an inducement to private vehicle owners to congest the roads at the expense of those who are willing in the public interest to use public transport.

Peter F Carter-Ruck London EC4 (Photograph omitted)