Tag Archives: transport

TfL’s Uber decision is no victory for liberalism

The decision taken by Transport for London to revoke Uber’s licence undermines a key theme of Vince Cable’s speech from just a few days ago, a belief in competitive markets. Whilst the company has only operated in the capital for a relatively short time, the benefits it has bought to London’s transport market for both Londoners and tourists alike have been numerous. Uber not only provides a cheaper, more accessible transport solution to its customers, but it has also forced its competitors to innovate, an example being black cabs now accepting card payments, freeing their users from having to carry large amounts of cash. If the Liberal Democrats are to be a proud champion of enterprise, the party should feel no shame in its support for companies such as Uber, which provide choice to consumers in what is otherwise a monopolistic market.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 55 Comments

Notes from a new councillor: Why we need decent bus services

I attended my first Cabinet Meeting recently as Oxfordshire County Councillor. OCC is led by a coalition of Conservatives and Independents. The question I put was:

Many villages in Wheatley Division are suffering because of the cut in bus subsidies. Elderly and vulnerable people are isolated; younger people cannot get to college and apprenticeships; those who relied on buses for work are now using cars and increasing the traffic on our already congested roads. Does the member agree with me that saving up to £4 million pounds from cutting bus subsidy was a false economy, and will she work with me to find room in our forthcoming budget to reinstate bus subsidies?

Well the member did not agree with me, and proceeded to inform me about all the community transport initiatives underway throughout the county. I am already well versed in these grass-root efforts, having been along to a fair number of community transport meetings over the last two months.

My problem is that offering locals buses twice a week for shopping; or relying on volunteers to get people to hospital appointments; or telling village residents to cross a busy highway (A40) for the nearest bus; is not good enough.

Connecting Oxfordshire, Local Transport Plan 2015 – 2031 includes the vision behind providing local buses. Here are three of the key outcomes (p. 16):

1. To support the transition to a low-carbon future.

2. To support social inclusion and equality of opportunity.

3. To protect, and where possible enhance, Oxfordshire’s environment and improve quality of life.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 30 Comments

Southern Rail Debacle. Time for the Tory MPs in the South East to step up!

Rail users have had to put up with an appalling service from Southern Rail over the last few months. Even before the strikes the company’s service was one of the worse amongst all the train companies across the UK but now the situation has become totally unacceptable.

Businesses in the South and South East of England are being adversely affected, important hospital appointments missed, everyday family routines of commuters are being wrecked, people are losing their jobs because they cannot guarantee their employer what time they will get into work or, on strike days, even that they will get into work.

All this because of the deplorable non-service provided by Southern Rail. This cannot go any longer.

It is time for the Secretary of State at the Department of Transport (Dft), Chris Grayling MP, to act now before it is too late and serious long term damage is done to tens of thousands of lives and businesses as a result of the shocking rail service southern commuters have had to endure for far too long.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 18 Comments

“Please offer me a seat”

avril-coelho-conference

As a disabled commuter who is unable to drive for medical reasons, I rely as thousands of other people to on public transport to get to the shops, to  get to work and back and to get to medical appointments.

Whilst I have a disabled person’s freedom pass, drivers don’t always notice that I need a priority seat. Certainly as my disabilities are hidden, other passengers don’t see my epilepsy or the three worn vertebrae in my spine. I need to sit where it’s not too hard to get up again and where the driver can see if I do have a seizure. I know that should I have a seizure, bus drivers have a protocol to follow.

I have been on a busy Tube and not offered a seat despite talking about my need for one with another standing passenger who was two weeks away from giving birth. Her need was obvious to anyone with sight but nobody got up. We were stood next to many seated men with briefcases and mobile phones in their hands who might have all needed their seats but it’s unlikely. A seat came up and I offered the lady the seat as her and her unborn baby needed it. The heat became unbearable and triggered a seizure and without anyone giving up a seat within the ten seconds I had to sit down, I fell down on the Tube floor. Only then did the men seated get up. Not to offer me their seats though! They picked me and my bag up and carried me of the Gunnersbury platform bench and left me alone there! My bag could have been stolen before the seizure ended.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Baroness Jenny Randerson writes…Consumer rights should cover train franchises

The recent poor performance of the Southern rail franchise, operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, have cast concern at the Government’s decision to exclude rail from the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. An Act which allows customers to be adequately compensated for any excessive disruption. In addition, passengers being forced to travel in cramped conditions when ironically, there are tight regulations preventing the overcrowding of animals when they are transported by train, but no similar rules relate to people.

Recent news headlines have been filled with these chaotic tales and the genuine distress of travellers, but what is more worrying is that this relentless and overwhelmingly negative impact appears to have no end in sight despite the recent reinstatement of 119 services. Both Tim and I have provided numerous comments on how the Government should and must intervene in a situation that is completely and utterly out of hand, and we share the exasperation of GTR’s customers.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 21 Comments

Renationalising the railways is trendy but not smart

Virgin trainWho should own the railways? Both contenders for the Labour leadership, Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn, believe it should be the public sector. They point to rising ticket prices., widespread industrial action and a lack of seating (or so Corbyn claims.) as evidence that privatisation has failed. The public seem to agree, with 62% now in favour of renationalisation. But is it worth it?

It certainly wouldn’t be progressive. Households in the highest real income bracket make up 43% of yearly rail journeys, with those in the lowest income bracket making up only 10% of journeys. Nationalisation would mean that low-earners who very rarely use the train would be funding through their taxes reduced ticket prices and the maintenance of rail travel for the highest earners in the country. Such large amounts of public sector finances would be far better spent on services which low earners need most.

Nor would nationalisation eradicate large scale industrial disputes. Look no further than across the Channel: in the run up to Euro 2016 the French railways endured huge strikes. Even under a Socialist government the railways were not immune from clashes with the unions.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 91 Comments

Baroness Jenny Randerson writes…For our transport sector Brexit means we are currently going nowhere fast

Although few people have talked about it, Brexit is going to raise serious issues about how we get about. Our transport sector faces practical problems that need to be solved, or at least grappled with. These are issues that affect us in everyday life. I am pretty sure that people who voted to leave still expect to be able to fly abroad to their summer holidays and to buy goods that have been transported safely and in a timely manner from other countries. There is a simple, practical fact about which nobody—no referendum, no decision—can do anything: the continent of Europe, the land mass, stands between us and much of the rest of the world.

One immediate issue is the Channel Tunnel. The dream of the Channel Tunnel long predates the European Union, but the tunnel was constructed while Britain was a member and it has been executed and managed with EU membership at the forefront. It is privately financed and privately run by an Anglo-French consortium and its scale is simply enormous—400 trains a day, 50,000 passengers a day and 54,000 tonnes of freight a day. We cannot ignore that the British border is in France, an arrangement which has already been put under considerable doubt.

It is clear that many who voted to leave did so in the expectation of tighter border controls. This conflicts with the inspiration behind the Channel Tunnel, to have freer and faster movement of both people and goods between Britain and France. Any moves to implement tighter controls or to apply them in different ways will inevitably have an impact on business and on the enormous investment that the Channel Tunnel represents.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 6 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSimon McGrath 19th Oct - 11:34am
    Which is it you are concerned about - inequality or poverty? The two are very different. We can reduce inequality by making the better off...
  • User AvatarChristopher Haigh 19th Oct - 11:02am
    @palehorse, yes the simplistic arguments of the leave campaign won through over the nuanced discussion of the remainers on this site.
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Oct - 10:40am
    @ Matthew Severn "Welsh lib dems need an honest conversation with themselves and Wales about why they went from 4 MPs and 6 AMs to...
  • User AvatarJeff 19th Oct - 10:31am
    Palehorse 19th Oct '17 - 9:10am: I have long been astonished by the shallow expectation of economists, politicians and newspaper editors who actually thought that...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 19th Oct - 10:26am
    One way to bring low pay into a higher pay bracket could be the development of robots being incorporated into human cooperation where the care...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 19th Oct - 10:24am
    Katharine, you say that as "an ordinary member", it "isn't your call". But "ordinary" members are supposed to make policy, including policy about how the...