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Policy group call for parties to outline their proposed transport strategies

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have published new research that shows an overwhelming number of people rely on public transport or would like to use it more often, but for many of them it simply isn’t working.

The IPPR’s research highlights that the cost of living crisis has impacted the way many people get around with 71% saying that have changed the way they travel as a result and a sizeable minority (up to 25% in London) thinking of reducing the number of vehicles in the household.

two yellow and red double-decker buses on gray concrete road

Asked which groups of people they felt were getting the best deal from the current transport system, the respondents identified the wealthy, those who live in cities and those who walk or cycle regularly as the best off. At the other end of the scale were country dwellers, people on low incomes, the disabled and those who rely on trains and buses.

Furthermore, few people believe they can influence transport policy with 63% saying they felt they had little or no say in transpport decisions. 

50% agreed strongly that ‘politicians have a bad understanding of what transport is like in areas like mine’ a point of view that explains why only 13% of people trust national government most to make decisions about transport in their area

31% believe local authorities and residents are best placed in this regard. 

Owning a car is still seen as essential by an average of 58% of people – a figure that drops to 42% in London and rises to 72% for people in rural areas.

Despite this commitment to car ownership, when the respondents were asked to consider a list of items and highlight those they felt were necessities, public transport to and from work was considered essential by 53% whereas car ownership by just 20%. 

In terms of non-transport items, public transport to work was considered less essential than heating the home, clothes and food but more essential than a phone or internet access.

Whether or not respondents own a car, most people felt that improving public transport is a better way of reducing transport costs for people than making a car more affordable to drive:

‘The clearly favoured policies among both car owners and non-car owners are ‘decreasing public transport fares’ and ‘make public transport an option for more journeys’. Car owners do want to see the cost of driving reduced but can clearly see the necessity of improvements to public transport’

The press release the IPPR distributed with the report was titled ‘Stop treating transport as a culture war and deliver on people’s priorities.’ and they go further, recommending that, ahead of the next election, parties outline their proposed transport strategies for the UK and focus on delivering a fairer, greener and healthier transport system, which must include devolution of powers and funds to local authorities.

Stephen Frost, principal research fellow at IPPR, said: ‘Rhetoric from the prime minister fabricating a ‘war on motorists’ over the last few months has been incredibly unhelpful. In reality, we know that even the most regular drivers also get on buses and trains and benefit from safer streets to walk, wheel and cycle. You’re not either a driver or a non-driver, in fact, most of us drive and use public transport as well as our legs.

‘So it is crucial those in Westminster stop treating transport as a culture war issue and start delivering on the people’s priorities. This polling reveals those priorities as clear and simple, they want public transport that works for more people, and they want to make decisions on transport locally. The party that makes that offer the clearest will benefit at the ballot box.’

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