This week we released a report on relative spending for road and rail, in which we said that road should be prioritised within a rapidly disappearing transport budget. Roads carry more passengers per pound than rail. Our research highlights that although spending on road and rail is roughly equal- £8.2 billion on rail and £8.3 billion on road during 2007-08- road had almost 13 times more passenger kilometres. In short, it offers better value for money.
The fact that more people travel by car is unlikely to surprise many people. However the arguments supporting continued high spending on rail, despite its comparatively low number of users, continues to bewilder many. This is particularly true outside of large metropolitan centres, where people have little option but to drive to work.
Greenguage 21 stated that it’s a “mugs game” to try and invest in road and trying to expand the road network is “impractical”. Yet today’s Telegraph predicts drivers are likely to face gridlock on the roads because it is half term, emphasising how impractical it is to continue to neglect the road network. A spokesman from the AA stated
“We're likely to get the worst traffic congestion of the year so far, with the heaviest traffic from 3pm on Friday.”
Roads are the main factor in keeping Britain moving, yet they are not viewed as such. Consequently when many families decide to go on holiday during the half term break they are faced with grim levels of congestion because the roads are already stretched beyond capacity.
Critics will argue that families should take public transport to go away on holiday. However families who own cars do so because it is a major component of their daily lives. They use cars to take the children to school, go to work and do the weekly shop. Hence using the car to get to a holiday destination is their most preferred option, and the most practical, particularly with the amount of luggage a typical family needs on a holiday. It would be near impossible for many families to use public transport to go on a half-term break.
These are the same families who already face high levels of fuel and Vehicle Excise Duty. The revenue from these two taxes combined outweighs the cost of road transport greenhouse gas emissions and road spending by £18.4 billion. Road users have paid more than their fair share into the transport system. They should be able to use the car for a family holiday without having to face hours upon hours of congestion.