News today

« Ending our love affair with the car to save humankind | Main | Where have all the dead fish gone? »


Charlie - Vehicle Recovery

Did you know that according to regulators, electric cars do not make enough noise - so they want to make the cars make more noise? Please tell me where the logic in that is?

Barbara Gribbon

The notion that sharing a commute/better public transport makes it alright when many people are commuting several hours each day seems to be missing the point to my mind. I know it's perhaps beyond the scope of this article, but is there no better model than that of a highly mobile workforce uprooting themselves and their families every few years when contracts run out? Or Dad living in the city at the weekend and going home only at weekends?

Is there any scope for introducing some sort of 'live near work' incentive, either/both for employer and employee? It is potentially fraught with loopholes, such as the fact that large retail employers tending to employ local people anyway but perhaps it could be aimed at SME somehow. Either that or having sufficient social housing that people moving to the area can find somewhere until they get their feet under them.

Dave Holladay

The Scottish Government - through a partnership with a car club and a bike scheme is offering a small taster of what could be something bigger.

Participants in a Better Way to Work scheme in Glasgow get a sample period of free membership (but paid for use) of the City Car Club and a serviced bike to use, along with incentives to reduce the inertia for using public transport (eg Zonecard).

This mimics the Belgian version of our old car scrappage scheme. Instead of a £1000 government 'bung' and matching discount from the car makers, to simply get another car and start the car owning process with a newer model, the Belgians offered 3 years of free bus travel, membership of a car sharing club (cars which are shared by many drivers NOT lift or ride sharing where one driver carries others as passengers), and access to a bike leasing scheme (a fully serviced folding bike at an attractive monthly price). As a result the car owners were offered a soft landing to the change from car ownership to car use as part of a wider portfolio of choice.

The typical family car is very poorly used for the money it costs - on average private cars sit idle for around 95% of the time - parked in a works or station car park for 8-10 hours and outside the house for around the same time. Some are used just once or twice per week. Not owning a car unlocks spending power of at least £2000/year for a household, with no need to seek higher wages, nor any increase in tax code. Many actually save even more, some London commuters report figures of £6000 to £8000 per year saved on car park costs, car ownership, gym fees (active travel is healthy travel), and even save time on travelling. One option to get the economy moving is for a return of a car scrappage scheme but one designed to get more people using cars on a pay as you go basis - levelling the playing field with bus and train which also work on this basis. A spin-off from the car club and savings made is an increase in the amount of disposable income that can reinvigorate the economy, without having to print more money that has no core earnings or equity to back it up, nor demand a higher national wage bill to deliver it.

Car clubs in Central London have seen a massive fall in car ownership in recent years - almost reaching the levels seen in Central Glasgow and Edinburgh. Indeed once the drivers who seize up Glasgow's roads in the morning and evening head back home, the city streets are practically deserted. Even those who drive in are losers. I observed that a commuter, arriving in our street to grab a parking space and beat the M8 jams gt there just after 7 am and then proceeded to have breakfast and read the paper in his car (and dump the rubbish outside) before heading off to walk to his office around 7 45. He had come in from Dunblane, having to leave there by I'd guess 6 am of just shortly afterwards. If he had used the train (or coach)he could have left at least an hour later and enjoyed the same breakfast and paper reading en route. The process repeats in the evening with queues to join the motorway of get down from Canniesburn to Crow Road crawling so slowly that a cyclist (taking under 10 minutes for the 2 miles, overtakes around 500 cars every morning) You'd think those drivers might have had the penny drop seeing the same guy pass them every day.

Still let's get back on track with this and get a car scrappage scheme which actually gets the number of cars on the road reduced, and increases the use of the remaining fleet, which, because it will be formally managed, and regularly renewed, can be higher in efficiency, and viable for use of electric and other more expensive vehicles

As for that old chestnut train fares are expensive - as I haven't had the steady expenses of car ownership since 1976, I find that journeys made by train generally work out cheaper than driving - easily half the cost if not better, and with time savings, both overall door to door, and with valuable work time (on the train) which would be written off if I had to drive. Typically a walk-up fare for the 100 mile round trip between Glasgow and Edinburgh (£10 via Cross Country only £22 on any train at any time, and £12 off-peak with a bike or a day bus ticket (£4 max) works out cheaper than driving and parking (£40+ at 40p/mile plus parking costs) A train based trip takes 40-50 minutes between Haymarket and Glasgow, with up to 12 trains an hour, compared to allowing between an hour and 2 hours for the M8 corridor depending on the time of day - so a round trip by car may take an hour longer, and have no en route time for working, against the train with an hour en route time, for phone calls reading etc on the train. No wonder that for many firms the company carnet (on coach or train) has replaced the company car.

Meg Howarth

And public transport needs to be clean, as well as cheap. London's bus-fleet is fuelled with diesel, the biggest source of health-damaging particulate matter - here's the link to the seminal 2007 study showing (irreversible) reduced lung-capacity in children: 'Leaving near main roads permanently damages children's lungs'

and increased risk of heart disease in women

The comments to this entry are closed.