Public transport prices have soared while the cost of travelling by car has dropped dramatically over the last four decades, new figures have revealed.
Government statistics published in response to a written question by Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas show the cost of motoring, including purchasing a vehicle, has fallen by 20% since 1980, while rail fares have risen by 63% and bus and coach fares are up by 64%.
The Green Party is now calling for an emergency intervention into the ‘air pollution crisis’ and has accused the government of failing to take the problem seriously.
Lucas’s leadership colleague Jonathan Bartley will address a school assembly in Streatham, south London, on Wednesday morning and will call on Theresa May to take action on the UK’s filthy air, which is linked to about 40,000 deaths each year.
“The stark difference between the cost of travelling by car and taking public transport lays bare how little this government cares about tackling the problem at its root,” he will say.
“If we keep pushing people into cars instead of promoting rail and public transport, our air is only going to get dirtier and harder for our children to breathe.”
Last Thursday the High Court ruled the government must reveal its draft plan for tackling air quality after the local elections this week. It had previously sought to delay publication of the strategy until after the general election on June 8.
Bartley will tell Dunraven secondary school - one of 90 in the capital exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution - that the Greens will take ‘immediate action’ to tackle the issue, investing in cycling, walking, electric vehicles and public transport.
“We’d also properly fund and expand the Clean Air Zone network and introduce a Vehicle Excise Duty for new diesel vehicles alongside a diesel scrappage scheme,” he will say.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has made tackling air pollution one of his top priorities and is currently consulting on the proposed expansion of the world’s first ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez) across the capital - under which drivers of the most polluting vehicles will be hit with charges to drive in central London.
The government has previously said it is ‘firmly committed’ to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions.