The Association of British Drivers warns of trouble ahead for the Government as health and safety worries continue to dog public transport after a series of tragic accidents. In the forthcoming General Election, 20 million plus motor-voters will play a crucial role.
While the Indian city of Delhi has taken a step in the right direction with its latest anti-pollution measures, Blair & Co continue to wage war with the motorist. Unlike the UK and EU, which aim to reduce urban car use whilst allowing buses to pollute city centres, public service vehicles which failed to switch from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas (CNG) were recently banned in Delhi. In the UK, John Prescott has admitted - in a taped interview with motoring journalist Mike Rutherford - that it will be 2017 before the bus pollution problem can be solved.
In addition to promoting use of some of the most polluting vehicles already on UK roads, the Government will soon be forced to allow the 'right to roam' for buses 25% longer than those currently operating. Safety campaigners have warned of the hazards to pedestrians posed by the new 15 metre long buses, which the EU is allowing in Britain. The Pedestrians Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents warn that the longer buses could be a danger to pedestrians, and that their use may ultimately force re-engineering of road junctions across the country.
ABD Environment Spokesman Bernard Abrams comments:
"The ABD has been pointing out for some time that, while buses provide an essential service for the minority who lack access to a car, they are by no means environmentally friendly. In our opinion they should be top priority in any clean air campaign. Instead Ministers attack the car, for reasons which appear to be due purely to ideology and fiscal greed."
ABD Chairman, Brian Gregory, continues:
"It's time the truth was told about how polluting and dangerous buses are, as the situation appears to be getting worse. Groups such as Transport 2000, backed by public transport money, appear to ignore the facts. The DETR should follow Delhi's example, while the EU should pause and reconsider the impact of monster buses."
Information for Editors - 10 reasons why the Government should immediately re-think its Integrated Transport Strategy and promote car use over buses for the large majority with a choice:
- National Environment Technology Centre data shows that an average diesel engined bus emits as much particulate pollution as 128 cars, and as much oxides of nitrogen (NOx) as 39 cars. Is there any bus on the roads -including the planned 45 ft non-articulated monster buses - that will regularly carry 129 car drivers?
- Automotive Advisers and Associates, Hilden, Germany, studied the sustainability of public transport versus private transport, and concluded that that buses and their public transport alternatives consume 60% more energy than cars per person transported, and take up 200% more public space.
- The University of Tokyo has found the chemical 3-nitrobenzanthrone in diesel bus exhausts when the engine is under load, e.g. when pulling away from a High Street bus stop. At the time of its identification this chemical was, and probably still is, one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to science.
- The Transport Research Laboratory studied options for a future Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in London and concluded in report TRL 431 that "restrictions on cars on air quality grounds have been shown not to be warranted by this study". The report went on to point out that diesel engined buses were a much better target for the pollution police.
- Bus services across the UK were heavily criticized in the Audit Commission report 'All Aboard' (1999), which painted a picture of a fragmented, unreliable and inflexible service.
- Bus companies cannot be relied upon to maintain services. In Cheltenham, for example, parents of school children and the pupils themselves - as well as commuters - have been let down by service cancellations in recent months.
- Another example of an environmentally friendly transport policy from abroad is provided by the USA, where in parts of Florida buses are a thing of the past - a more individualised and greener service is provided by community taxis.
- There are public safety iussues regarding bus travel for lone females at night, as well as the dangers to all passengers and passers-by posed by maintenance levels which are enough to worry transport union spokesmen.
- Waiting at a cold wet bus stop in winter - for a bus which may or may not arrive - is not an option for many infirm and elderly people, while those in rural communities frequently rely on their cars to maintain quality of life.
- The freedom to choose a mode of transport - as championed by Government transport supremo Lord Macdonald - is one which the ABD would wish to see enacted in policy terms, as the deck is currently stacked against the car user in terms of subsidies, access, and fiscal disincentives.
Notes for Editors