Every year we hear complaints from the car industry about rising costs, particularly if the fuel cost goes up (then silence when it falls). Last week there was talk of car park charges in Reading, quickly the car drivers complained and it was put on hold.
But the inconvenient truth is that car travel has become relatively cheaper while other forms of transport have soared in cost. Even some MPs have said the Government was undermining its own battle against climate change.
According to statistics, the cost of car travel has fallen by 13 per cent over the past 10 years, while the price of train tickets has risen by more than 30 per cent. The respective trends have continued throughout Labour's period in office.
Tony Bosworth, of Friends of the Earth, said: "These figures show one of the reasons why the Government is finding it so difficult to get people out of their cars and on to public transport." A Greenpeace spokesman said: "It appears Gordon Brown has been in hock to the motorist for too long. If he's serious about climate change he will face down opposition from the motoring lobby and promote green, low-carbon alternatives."
Why driving is cheaper
* Successive governments have shied away from taking on motorists and the motoring industry, while rail privatisation under the Conservatives and its continuation under Labour has resulted in repeated increases in fares.
* Governments since the 1970s have taxed fuel, and in 1993 the Conservatives introduced the Fuel Price Escalator, resulting in an increase in the price of fuel above VAT year on year. Gordon Brown abolished the scheme in 2000.
* Tax subsidies on company cars and continued road expansions, at the same time as rail companies are having to maintain their own tracks, has meant the trend away from public transport and on to the roads is continuing and may even increase.
dft'Commentators often point to the falling cost of motoring in comparison with the average rise in costs of public transport as a challenge to be addressed if we are to achieve our carbon objectives.'
compares business as usual scenarios, predicting the mess we are in now from 2000.
from statistics.gov.uk table 12.13
Motoring costs 1997/98 2007 % change
Cars, vans and motorcycle ... 26.1 .. 22.8 ... -12.64% so cheaper
Repairs, servicing, spares... 8.1 .. 8.1 ... 0 no change
Motor vehicle insurance and taxation 8.3 ... 10.1 ... 21.69% thats gone up
Petrol,diesel and other oils 16.6 .. 18.3 ... 10.24%
Other motoring costs 2.3 .. 2.4 ... 4.35%
All motoring expenditure 61.5 .. 61.8 ... 0.49% up very slightly
Fares and other...
Rail 1.9 .. 2.5 ... 31.58% Up a lot
Bus 1.8 .. 1.2 ... -33.33% Down a lot
Taxi, air and other travel costs 5.9 .. 6.3 ... 6.78% up
All fares and other travel costs 9.7 .. 10.1 ... 4.12% up
Motoring and all fares 71.1 .. 71.8 ... 0.98%
Total expenditure 433.2 .. 459.2 ... 6%
£ a week
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