CROYDON COMMENTARY: Regular readers have seen through the political shenanigans over fare rises forced on London by central government.
DAN MAERTENS, pictured right, says that we should be helping our public transport system and curbing the use of private vehicles
Sure, there was always going to be a cost to the covid-19 lockdown, and an inevitability that Transport for London, as well as all of the country’s transport service operators, were going to struggle to continue to operate services without the revenue streams from Joe and Jane Public, after we were all told to “stay at home, work from home” to support them.
It doesn’t matter particularly what the state of their finances were before the crisis – that’s an argument for another day – but if the UK is to return to some form of “new normal”, our public transport systems have to be functioning at or near full capacity, and will need to be paid for.
If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we have to curb car usage – we can’t go back to the way things were pre-pandemic.
I know it will upset quite a number, but the assumptions about our rights to personal car use have to shift, because now that they’ve been parked up for 99 per cent of the time over the last five or six months, our air is cleaner, our environment quieter, our lives less stressful, and our wildlife returning. I think I like it this way.
What we are in for later this year is the loss of free travel in London for our children.
Exactly what other benefits will disappear, and for whom, still has not been fully resolved, but it’s part of the “settlement” imposed on TfL by the Department for Transport. I think I know who will be hardest hit.
And before anyone pipes up about “we all had to walk to school in my day, and it never hurt me”, so did I. And I cycled five miles to school and back in all weathers. But times have changed and road traffic in Croydon during rush hour is not what it was in the 1960s and 70s. I know there are some secondary schools, so concerned about the dangers of the busy roads that lead to their school gates, who do not allow their pupils to cycle to school.
We need a proper consultation process and a proper consensus, rather than just having to put up with being imposed upon at the whim of government just because they can.
I’ll briefly remind them what they promised: to deliver world-class public services; to support working families; to give city regions the funding to upgrade their bus, tram and train services to make them as good as London’s; to support clean transport to ensure clean air; and to set and adhere to strict new laws on air quality.
I know I’m a cynic by nature, but with the government’s settlement with TfL, I think I smell a rat.
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