Thursday, 3 July 2008

SEA CHANGE IN TRANSPORT USE

KENT PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday 3rd July 2008 - 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF - www.kentgreenparty.org 0845 257 4236 – 01732 355185 – Mobile: 079444 71083

SEA CHANGE IN TRANSPORT USE

Petrol and Diesel consumption in the UK has dropped by one fifth in a year(1). Two thirds of motorists have cut their car journeys(2). Rail and bus use is increasing rapidly (3). Current oil prices, now over $140 a barrel, are pushing transport costs up very quickly. For Kent, with large rural areas and uneven and costly public transport, it has never been more desirable to try to move people and freight without using oil(4). Dr Hazel Dawe(5) comments:

“People are to be congratulated on reducing their dependence on the car. However, the Government could help them to do more: If the 2p increase in fuel tax duty due this autumn were to be spent on reducing fares on public transport then even more journeys would be switched from cars to public transport. Reducing traffic makes walking and cycling more pleasant and reduces air pollution – a serious problem in those parts of Kent with Air Quality Management Areas(6).

However, while we can all welcome cuts in traffic, we also have to recognise that 22% of households in Kent do not have access to a car(7). Over 60% of those in work in Kent are still using a car to get to work. To help people deal with higher energy bills, local councils need to encourage general use of ‘Green Travel Plans’ to help people to keep household bills for petrol and diesel down.

“Kent County Councillors should show a lead since only one of them is currently claiming more for public transport use than for car use(8).

“’Park and Rail’ using one of Kent’s 99 rail stations needs to be encouraged. A higher priority must be given to extend Kent’s small 490 km cycle network. Whilst East Kent has a relatively dense cycle network West Kent has almost no cycle tracks at all. Those present are dedicated to leisure rather than practical routes which enable people to cycle to work i.e. Tonbridge to Penshurst and Tenterden to Tunbridge Wells.

“It is also still the case that about 14-15 out of every 100 cars in the rush hour is ferrying children to school. Walking and cycling are much to be preferred for developing the health of our children.”

Ends c 372 words
FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr Hazel Dawe on 01732 355185 or 079444 71083. Contact address as above.
Notes:
1.According to the International Energy Agency – (Observer, 29.6.08)
2.Steve Hawkes – Surging petrol cost sparks big drop in car journeys The Times, 25th June 2008.
3.Hugo Duncan – Stagecoach speeds ahead as commuters ditch their cars Evening Standard, 25th June 2008.
4.Two road-maps for this are of particular value: Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl – Transport Revolutions: moving people and freight without oil (Earthscan, 2008) and Zero Carbon Britain – produced by the Centre for Alternative Technology.
5.Dr Dawe is Chair of Kent Green Party and is a rail commuter. She serves on the Committee of the Tonbridge Rail Travellers Association.
6.Over 36 of them, present in most urban areas of the County, where air pollution exceeds permitted limits, putting public health at risk since about 19,000 people die each year as a result of air pollution in the UK.
7.http://www.kent.gov.uk/static/local-transport-plan/section_3.html
8. Paul Francis - Councillors claim £1.7 million in expenses Kentish Express, 3rd July 2008.

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