Let’s talk about transport

For some reason, people often seem surprised that whilst I own a house and have a driving licence I choose not to have a car. I could afford to buy and run a car, but I choose not to, because I don’t need one. The public transport network where I live isn’t perfect and the walking and cycling infrastructure could do with some improvement, but it’s more than enough for me to get around.

Transport accounts for around a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions, with most of this coming from road transport. Therefore, given the government’s commitments made at the Paris climate summit, the government should be seeking to do whatever it can to help us reduce the amount of traffic on the roads. And inevitably when this government fails to take any action, the opposition parties should be making a fuss about it!

I wasn’t surprised to see the Chancellor freeze fuel duty for the tenth year in a row. I am surprised that this is coming at the same time as rail fares are being allowed to increase at above the rate of inflation. I don’t understand why at a time of climate emergency, the government continues to make it harder for people who choose not to own a car.

As Liberal Democrats, we never seem to talk about transport. Why aren’t we more noisy about it? On transport, all Labour seem to talk about is renationalisation of the railways. All the Greens talk about is HS2 (as an aside: why do Greens oppose High Speed Rail? It makes no sense). The Tories never seem to have much to say about anything other than vague soundbites about freeports. The goal is open for us!

More than one in five households in the UK do not have a car. We are reliant on walking, cycling and public transport, which as a network is often disjointed and does not work together. Our many Liberal Democrat run councils should be supporting the Slow Ways project, which seeks to establish a network of walking routes between towns and villages. The Beeching Axe left this country with lots of abandoned railway lines, perfect for conversion into safe, off road cycle routes (like the Bristol and Bath Railway Path). We should be looking to make using public transport an option for every single journey people want to make, with fully integrated ticketing between buses, trains and ferries, allowing people to abandon their cars. Perhaps a future Lib Dem government could have a target to reduce car usage?

Our response to the budget only talked about upgrading the transport system, to make them “green and future-proof”, which is really just waffle. We can do so much better!

* Michael Wallis is a Liberal Democrat member in East Sussex who is not quite as active as he used to be. He has worked in Transport for the past ten years.

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  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 10:23am

    Driverless cars will probably be the next big innovation in our lives. That would potentially change lots of things.

    I’m surprised that it doesn’t get more coverage.

  • John Marriott 8th Mar '21 - 10:41am

    “Driverless cars”? Are you kidding me? Now the hydrogen fuel cell, that’s a different matter.

  • Antony Watts 8th Mar '21 - 11:03am

    Here we have it. Cars are bad, I don’t need one.

    Well let me tell you I live in a tiny Warwickshire village (200) with absolutley no public transport and no way to cycle to nearby (4miles) Tesco, or anyway to get to nearby towns (Leamington and Banbury, each 13 miles).

    So I need a car. But I have made the right choice, a BMW i3 electric car. And I am signed up to an electricity provider for 100% green electricity, for which I pay a little over the odds.

    And that is the reality. Strong encouragement is needed by Government to fulfil the three aspects of BEVs

    1. Batteries
    2. Charge points
    3. Cars

    And these initiatives have to go in parallel, and in this order. So far the production aspect is dominating – batteries and cars, rah rah, rah – but this is useless without a charging infrastructure. So instead of HS2 for 10,000 people, we need a national car charging infrastructure for 10, 000,000 people, by 2030. So we can all get about cleanly.

  • Barry Lofty 8th Mar '21 - 11:09am

    All this might be the case in the glorious non polluting future but in the present world I am grateful to own a small petrol car that enables me to drive my wife to hospital 20 miles away to have replacement knee surgery, this after cancellation due to covid. I suppose she could get a bus after hobbling to the nearest bus stop, or walk to the railway station just 2 miles away. Be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater , progress and change happens continually without getting all holier than though about it.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 11:22am

    John Marriott.

    You don’t think driverless cars will come?

    I’ve been wrong before but I really believe that their time will come soon. I suspect that there will be a time when driver and driverless will be on the road at the same time.

  • Jenny Barnes 8th Mar '21 - 11:47am

    driverless cars might be ok on motorways. But on ordinary roads, which must be shared with children, horses, cyclists, joggers horses and carts, cargo bikes, motorbikes, droves of sheep, …I don’t think so. If they do come, I’m really looking forward to jumping out in front of them :)))

  • Jenny Barnes 8th Mar '21 - 11:50am

    20 miles there and back could easily be handled by a first generation Nissan Leaf. Real range around 70miles, available secondhand for under £10k.

  • Paul Chandler 8th Mar '21 - 11:53am

    Like Mike, I don’t own a car (my partner does and I would be churlish to refuse to ride with her on occasion!)
    I gave up owning a car as my eyesight really isn’t up to the task.
    When I gave up driving I promised myself that I would never be mean about getting a taxi. After all, with all the money I save, I can afford to use a cab as often as I like.
    Another point I don’t live in an idyllic village (village life has many other extra costs) but in Brighton, which has a good bus network and excellent rail links.
    The point of this post is to say that I feel so liberated since I stopped driving. No parking problems, no expensive services, no speed cameras to worry about, no congestion to avoid and far more outdoor exercise on my bike or walking.
    I thought I would miss the convenience of having a car but I would never want to go back to owning one.

  • Barry Lofty 8th Mar '21 - 11:59am

    Thanks for info on Nissan Leaf I think I will stick with my Ford Eco BMax, it extremely fuel efficient and comfortable.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 12:35pm

    Jenny Barnes – it’s no problem. Driverless cars could easily work in urban environments.

    In fact the most interesting question is about insurance liability.

    Flying cars aren’t totally ridiculous either. You would need a pilot licence to fly one but if the control was autonomous (self driving) then there’d be no problem.

  • I think the question John M was trying ask was “what has driverless cars to do with a green transport system.”
    Not much as far as I can see!

  • John Marriott 8th Mar '21 - 1:08pm

    No, Andy Hyde, John M’s question was more to do with the fact that he contemplates “driverless cars” with horror. They are here already, unfortunately.

    As for a “green transport system”, provided the ‘fuel’ is produced environmentally, what’s not to like about the hydrogen fuel cell?

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 1:41pm

    John Marriott.

    Why do you dread driverless cars?

    Serious question, not having a dig.

    I think they are wonderful.

  • Brad Barrows 8th Mar '21 - 1:41pm

    It is easy to reduce car usage – heavy taxation on all aspects of owning and using a car should do the trick – but do we want a society where only rich people are able to enjoy the benefits of car ownership?

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 2:00pm


    But the idea is you don’t own a car because the cost is a disbenefit. I would go to my ‘online mobility provider’ and call a driverless car when I need one. No ownership needed. No tax to pay.

    Uber drivers might not like it.

  • Barry Lofty 8th Mar '21 - 2:15pm

    Surely if the government of the day lost all its tax income from owner drivers, in all its many forms, would it not seek ways to recoup the losses by loading it onto the cost of hiring your transport instead?

  • Laurence Cox 8th Mar '21 - 2:27pm

    For someone who has worked in Transport for ten years Michael Wallis seems to be remarkably uninformed about HS2. Let’s just list two of the many things wrong with it:

    1) It doesn’t link to HS1. If I come into London on the Eurostar and want to go on to Birmingham or Manchester, I have to leave St Pancras and travel to Euston. HS2 does nothing to improve this. In contrast, I can travel from London to Marseille with no more than a platform change at Lille, or to Munich with platform changes at Brussels Midi and Cologne. The French high-speed line that by-passes Paris even has a station at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport; another failing of HS2, which does not properly serve either Heathrow or Gatwick.

    2) It was over-specified. By choosing a design speed of 250 mph rather than the 200 mph of other high-speed lines in Europe they committed themselves to higher power requirements (scales as the cube of the speed), a straighter track (bend radius scales as the square of the speed) and a more expensive, stiffer trackbed (to reduce the effect of Rayleigh waves). Once the argument for HS2 changed from reduced journey time to increased capacity, the design speed and the route should have been revisited to reduce the construction cost (and probably save some of the ancient woodlands that will be destroyed by HS2). If you really want a high-speed line, then the HSUK proposals make much more sense than HS2: http://www.highspeeduk.co.uk/

    With more people working from home as a result of covid, we also need to question whether we really need all this high-speed rail capacity or whether we would be better served by investing in high-speed broadband for the country. Communicating is far greener than commuting.

  • John Marriott 8th Mar '21 - 2:39pm

    I guess that Mr Paper is still living in Honah Lee. Unfortunately Puff appears to have deserted him, presumably when he found out his pal had acquired a driverless car. Perhaps Mr Burrows would like us all to use public transport. Sorry, mate, not while COVID is around.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 2:55pm

    John Marriott.

    No. The whole point of the song is Jackie Paper deserts Puff. A dragon lives forever but not so little boys. Puff makes way for other toys. A driverless car though would be a great toy. Seriously, what’s your beef?

    And I can’t wait to get back to rail travel – a fine mode of transportation. Just got to lose the muzzles.

  • @Little Jackie Paper
    You don’t think driverless cars will come?
    I’ve been wrong before but I really believe that their time will come soon.

    Well, firstly there is no such thing as a silver bullet.
    Secondly, they are overhyped – like other technologies such as “AI” (which doesn’t doesn’t exist, it is just a marketing label for a bunch of statistically-based programming techniques, ie. its too complex/hard to work out how it reached that decision, therefore, it must be AI).
    Thirdly, even allowing for the current rate of progress, and comparing to previous technology innovations, I don’t expect there to be many true driverless cars around before 2030; so nice to talk about, but until then we need to work with what we’ve got.

    Back in the early 1980’s it was normal for the software engineers working on aircraft/helicopter engine management and flight systems to do live debugging – yes that meant riding in an experimental airframe running your software and if necessary patching it on the fly. I find it noteworthy that none of the driverless car developers in Uber, Google, Telsa et al are required to do likewise, in fact many are scared to do so, as they have little faith in their own software…

  • All the Greens talk about is HS2 (as an aside: why do Greens oppose High Speed Rail? It makes no sense).
    1. HS2 specifically fails to satisfy the Government’s own mandatory environmental requirements, yet it is still going ahead and destroying 400+ year old habitats (aka ancient woodlands).
    2. High-speed rail is not an efficient user of energy. Just like conventional cars, a frugal around town car can turn into a gas guzzler on the motorway.
    3. It encourages and depends on a style of society that ultimately consumes energy. Lockdown has given an indication of just how much energy (and time) we needlessly ‘burn’ travelling from place ‘A’ just to do something at place ‘B’ which we could more easily do at place ‘A’.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 3:38pm


    I appreciate that driverless cars might be the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. And, of course, autonomous vehicles have different levels of autonomy.

    Perhaps driverless lorries are more likely than cars?

    But I’d love a driverless car!

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Mar '21 - 3:56pm

    “But on ordinary roads, which must be shared with children, horses, cyclists, joggers horses and carts, cargo bikes, motorbikes, droves of sheep, …I don’t think so. If they do come, I’m really looking forward to jumping out in front of them :)))”

    Exactly. And it’s rather difficult for people who live in rural – and many urban – areas to get to a motorway (if any) without using such roads.

  • Richard Easter 8th Mar '21 - 4:01pm

    Driverless cars are one of those things that, like job offshoring and global free trade at any cost sound productive in theory – it reminds me of this sort of libertarian fantasy of “with all this automation it will give us all loads more leisure time and freedom”…

    However these fantasies in reality create a lot of people who will lose out massively and will certainly not be voting for this. Taxi drivers, lorry drivers, delivery drivers and so on. These voters are already likely to be those who went for UKIP in the past and now Johnson’s Tories and voted for Brexit – or alternatively are part of the trade union left – such as IWGB / RMT and likely favour the left of Labour.

    Instead of getting loads of free time to play golf, volunteer or whatever else, many will likely be on the dole and be in a serious financial mess. Automation as an election platform will ensure that working class voters will tell the Lib Dems where to shove their vote – because it always ends up badly for them and they know it.

    Of course the response will be – “But UBI”. Which is all fine, but when focus groups repeatedly suggest that voters think Blair and Brown bankrupted Britain, the likelyhood of people voting for UBI either is pretty much zero. Already we are seeing a lot of right wing backlashes against key workers now (nurses, teachers and so on) – if people don’t want to prioritise money, safety, vaccines and protection for key workers who have risked death – they sure won’t tolerate UBI…

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Mar '21 - 4:01pm

    “Back in the early 1980’s it was normal for the software engineers working on aircraft/helicopter engine management and flight systems to do live debugging – yes that meant riding in an experimental airframe running your software and if necessary patching it on the fly. ”
    I’ve never worked with such mission-critical software but I get the picture about is importance.

    “I find it noteworthy that none of the driverless car developers in Uber, Google, Telsa et al are required to do likewise, in fact many are scared to do so, as they have little faith in their own software…”
    Very interesting. Not exactly a good reference for the technology.

  • @Antony Watts – Here we have it. Cars are bad, I don’t need one.
    I understand it is easy to get into this mindset and suspect many do drop into this “us and them” mindset. Where I live it’s 6 miles to the Station, 8 miles to Tescos and like you no bus service worth speaking of. However, this hasn’t prevented me from both downsizing my cars and their usage with the benefit that they are likely to last longer before needing replacement.
    I think this is perhaps the more important thing, from an environmental perspective, for the next 10~20 years. It isn’t so much we need everyone to rush out and buy new electric cars, we simply need people to stop using the gas guzzlers and think about their car usage – is your journey really necessary. With an increase in home-based working and a massive reduction in everyday commuting, the attraction of a depreciating “Chelsea tractor”, that is also costing money in finance and insurance costs, standing on the drive will start to fade.

    > Strong encouragement is needed by Government to fulfil the three aspects of BEVs
    I disagree, given how few miles people normally do in their cars, with many local journey’s most people only need a ‘home’ charging point.
    There is little a post-Brexit UK government can do about batteries – either manufacturers will see it worth building UK battery manufacturing plants or they won’t. Given we seem to be up against the worldwide supply of lithium and a handful of rare elements which will severely limit the production of electric cars, I expect in a few years the UK will be importing batteries and cars from the EU.
    A better use of government funding is to invest in transport alternatives to private cars and transport replacement technologies eg. universal fibre-optic broadband to the home.

  • @Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar ’21 – 3:38pm
    >And, of course, autonomous vehicles have different levels of autonomy.
    I think this is going to be the reality for the near future, support that assists the driver rather than replace the driver.

    >But I’d love a driverless car!
    They do have their attractions, however, a problem I have (but not my wife) is that I can’t read or watch screens in a car – okay on trains and planes, so currently, in my house, I do most of the driving…

  • John Marriott 8th Mar '21 - 4:41pm

    No “beef”, Mr Paper, just a nerdish fascination as to why you have adopted this particular moniker. I would imagine that most LDV contributors haven’t got the foggiest idea what we are blathering on about. (Try Googling “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary).

    As for that “driverless car”, there have already been a couple of accidents involving experimental ones in the US. As far as I know the prerequisite is that there is someone actually behind the steering wheel in case something goes wrong. I confess to having a weird imagination; but the idea of “calling a driverless car” when I need one and an empty car suddenly appearing at my front door to whisk me off somewhere is for me one fantasy trip too far.

  • @ Michael Wallis “All the Greens talk about is HS2 (as an aside: why do Greens oppose High Speed Rail? It makes no sense)”.

    If that’s the case why does Caroline Lucas have a tiny 20,000 majority in Brighton not that far from East Sussex where Michael Wallis, “is not quite as active as he used to be” ? Maybe he ought to get out more ?

    Here in Scotland it’s in today’s news that the Scottish Greens have negotiated a deal to support the Scottish Government’s budget. It includes,

    “Pandemic relief payments worth £130 for 500,000 households and £330 for the families most in need, free school lunches for all primary school children, free bus travel for everyone under 22, a pay rise for the public sector workers who have got us through the last 12 months and £40 million worth of funding to promote walking, cycling and green projects”.

    Of course, HS2, which is official Lib Dem policy, won’t get anywhere near Scotland in my lifetime…… and as a tax payer I’m paying for it…….

  • Paul Barker 8th Mar '21 - 5:27pm

    If I could widen this out a bit, all Progressives, including Libdems & Greens, are going to have our work cut out persuading people to go back to Public Transport once its safe. The Tories are planning to “Save” money by massive cuts to Trains & Buses while trying to bully staff back to Offices – the medium Term result will be Traffic Gridlock & a steep rise in Pollution.
    Electric Cars wont have a big effect on Pollution till towards the end of the Decade.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 5:46pm

    John Marriott.

    There have been quite a few accidents in cars with drivers too!

    I just love the idea. The car comes, I put my little girl in there and send it to go to the device in Grandma’s watch. Imagine that!

    So yes to internet tracked mobility and personal homing devices and surveillance of people in the driverless car. Yes even to sponsored routes for passengers.

    You can take your vaccine passport and print it on soft, absorbent and perforated paper though.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 5:47pm

    John Marriott.

    The name Little Jackie Paper?

    Remind me another time and we’ll talk!

  • John Marriott 8th Mar '21 - 7:32pm

    With all this talk about driverless cars, how about turning our attention to “driverless political parties”?

    As for the motor car, my three year lease on my Ford Kuga Diesel runs out in a year’s time. My main dilemma is, given I and my wife have only driven around 1000 miles in its second year, do we get an electric model next time or stick with another infernal combustion engine? (The ‘infernal’ came from my predictive text. Actually I quite like it so I’ll leave it!) Of course, we could just hand it back and rely on public transport. Come on, this is LINCOLNSHIRE after all, where public transport is an endangered species!

  • @Michael – That NewStatesman article is a cracking piece written by someone with their head stuck in the past and la la’ing whats going on around them! The date is the giveaway: 30 Oct 2020; the writer clearly had zero concept of the shockwave CoViD19 and lockdown has had on society and the economy; ‘capacity’ is only potentially needed if we assume everything will go back to how it was before CoViD19 and not take advantage of where we are now to choose a different future.

    It is interesting, given the size of Scotland, in relation to England, there is no mention of high-speed rail in the Scottish Greens proposals.

    By the way, the Coalition Government decided to simply ignore/brush aside the environmental requirements, just as they and their successors have been deaf to the reports of the Public Accounts Committee… In any case, what’s the loss of a few more SSSI’s, hectares of ancient woodland, more degraded ‘countryside’ aka ‘brownfield’ land? mustn’t stand in the way of ‘progress’…

    >Ultimately as humans we need to see other places and meet other people
    However, the level of travel by so many, we take for granted, is something that has only arisen in the last 50 years and it has been killing the planet.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Mar '21 - 8:06pm

    John Marriott.

    Of course a driverless car mobility service would sort your problem perfectly.

  • Laurence Cox 8th Mar '21 - 8:16pm

    @Michael Wallis

    If you’re relying on John Elledge for support, he has this strange idea that a signal failure at Watford would cut off Birmingham from London. In fact, Birmingham has two direct rail links to London – the other one is Birmingham Snow Hill to London Marylebone! It’s a bit slower but still quicker than waiting for Network Rail to fix the fault and get all the stacked up trains moving again.

  • David Garlick 9th Mar '21 - 10:07am

    The key totraansport change is the same as most of the climate improving changes we need t make.
    Don’t challenge the existing systems, provide the new system you want to see with the right incentives/disincentives to encourage the change.
    Challenging the existing is, as is shown above the guaranteed way to bring forth complaints and move the discussion away from ‘How can we make this change happen. Give people a new and workable system, make it possible for all to use it or, where it is impossible, be excepted and you stand a chance.

  • @John Marriott – “As for the motor car, my three year lease on my Ford Kuga Diesel runs out in a year’s time. My main dilemma is, given I and my wife have only driven around 1000 miles in its second year,”

    Well, we can safely ignore the pundits of “driverless car mobility services”, they aren’t going to be around in your timescales.

    From my experience your dilemma is very common; as people get older they do fewer miles and more of those miles (percentage-wise) are local. However, they are used to the convenience of having a car on the drive and the freedom to go wherever in it. It is a hard sell to wean these people off their cars and become users of shared transport services – so far of the three elderly relatives, only one has voluntarily made the full conversion to taxies – of the electric variety – they are so quiet!

    Thus, given how circa 20m people are 60+ (ie. one-third of the UK population) the big transport problem of the next couple of decades isn’t actually long-distance but local-distance mobility, where ‘local’ will differ between those living inside and outside of conurbations.

    Personally, if your journies are all short, ie. sub 80 mile round trip, you might be well advised to take the plunge and go electric – might be worth talking to your dealer as given your mileage they might reorganise the lease at little or no cost to you. If you do feel the need to travel to Cornwall say then perhaps your local garage will hire you an ICE car. So from my point-of-view, this is an opportunity for local garages/entrepreneurs rather than Uber et al.

  • Barry Lofty 9th Mar '21 - 11:13am

    Being in the age group referred to in the two previous posts I have to agree that what is needed is a common sense approach to these changes in transport use but also have to point out that my extremely low car mileage this year is due to enforced lock down for obvious reasons.

  • I am surprised that this is coming at the same time as rail fares are being allowed to increase at above the rate of inflation.
    This is an interesting conundrum, as there is relatively little the public can compare prices to, however, to those who believe that there will be a capacity problem in 10 years time (when the London-Birmingham leg is HS2 is due to open), should be worried; the fare increases of today are undermining the case for HS2.

    Today I have a choice, I can pick a phone up, have a Zoom meeting with colleagues from the comfort of my home, or spend £100+ on rail fares, plus extra for coffees and lunch and several hours travelling into London to hold the same meeting except instead of it being: different place same time, it will be same place same time. If I look at it from the viewpoint of someone who will be paying the expenses, that could £1,000+ spend just for one meeting…
    With many office workers and their employers now having had the experience of home-based working and seen the cost benefits, I don’t envisage these people rushing out to cram themselves into rush-hour commuter trains in the numbers we saw before lockdown. Also, board-level executives have seen just how much an overhead having a big city centre HQ represents, they will be under renewed pressure to reduce overheads…
    So the increasing rail prices now can only serve to reinforce the message: commuting (via rail) is being discouraged. The implications of this on a new generation of workers brought up on the Internet and digital communications are going to be seismic.

  • James Fowler 10th Mar '21 - 10:24am

    We could talk more about transport, but (pre-lockdown) there were only two distinct interest groups that mattered: London commuters and hauliers. For everyone else, transport was a vague sense of how much it cost to fill up their car combined with a parochial view on how busy local roads were.

    To make an awful pun, transport has no traction, and those interested in transport (like me) have a terrible tendency too overconcentrate on public transport. But in the long and the medium term transport means a discussion about cars and cycling, i.e private modes, concentrating on how to make cars cleaner and cheaper and how to make cycling safer. In the immediate term, now that we’ve terrified people off public transport, we need to talk about persuading them back. We also need to urgently look again at ‘smart’ motorways.

    HS2 is a complete red herring, widely misunderstood and in a curious way it belongs to a different era – the classic case of delaying endlessly while it was badly needed and then built at the wrong moment.

  • @James – But in the long and the medium-term transport means a discussion about cars and cycling, i.e private modes, concentrating on how to make cars cleaner and cheaper and how to make cycling safer.
    Even in the short-term, the discussion needs to be around pedestrians and cyclists, in part because of the massive increase due to lockdown exercise and because many Councils have already started implementing schemes to give these groups great street access.
    I would enlarge that slightly to include both pedestrians and “wheeled Pedestrians” (for want of a better term) on their scooters, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, hoverboards, etc.
    However, a big concern is the handling of the backlash from some motorists, something we saw last yearwhen councils started reclaiming town centre space for pedestrians and cyclists; it would seem the idea that the roads (and pavements) are primarily for cars will take some effort to change.

    Also, we do need to find ways to better educate and prepare people to be “wheeled pedestrians” and cyclists this isn’t a job just for schools, with the proliferation of eScooters littering our streets – available to people with zero experience of them, any scheme needs to include adults.

    But fundamentally James, you are right lockdown has changed both the focus and the narrative.

  • Jenny Barnes 10th Mar '21 - 12:03pm

    campaigns for more cycling tend to get derailed by people imagining, whether genuinely or not, that their cars will be removed. Holland shows that this is undesirable, and unnecessary. It might be that some car journeys get slightly longer – but remembering they are powered that’s not a huge hardship. On most residential and near residential streets the car should be the guest; where we have faster distributor and main roads there needs to be pavements and segregated cycle tracks. Groningen shows how that could work – it’s not possible to drive through the middle, but cars can get everywhere by driving out and round and in again. Meanwhile, cycles can conveniently and safely get everywhere too. So they get used.

  • Driverless taxis are already here and working. Waymo has ordered 20,000 EV Jaguars for its roll out in California. These taxis are autonomous level 4 so they are in continuous contact with their base and operate in a defined zone. All major car makers are designing and testing purpose built autonomous urban taxis, including one owned by the Chinese government. I suggest that the quiet, non-polluting door to door service will be very popular. Short range, speed-limited taxis should be very cheap to buy and operate, so this service could become very inexpensive. Once established, many people will gladly give up car ownership. Fully autonomous cars, Level 5, seem much further away, but maybe the Level 4 taxis will have zones extended out to rural areas.

  • Peter Hirst 11th Mar '21 - 4:32pm

    Why isn’t the Party campaigning more to retain Eurostar? It is under threat following Brexit. Long distance rail travel is the right answer to many issues. Spending more time on your journey makes that journey part of your trip rather than than an inconvenient method of getting somewhere.

  • Peter Davies 12th Mar '21 - 9:10am

    I agree that we should be making more of a fuss about Eurostar. The crisis is more due to Covid than Brexit but what prevents the government from helping it (as it is airlines) is that it has Euro in its name.

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