POLITICS
15/02/2018 16:54 GMT | Updated 16/02/2018 11:07 GMT

Train And Bus Fares Have Skyrocketed In Last Four Decades, Figures Show

MP says government is 'waging war' on public transport users.

Train and bus fares have skyrocketed in the last four decades, official figures show.

Analysis obtained from the Department for Transport by Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas revealed that between 1980 and 2016, the cost of bus and coach travel rose by 64% and rail travel by 63%, despite a small drop in 2016.

The Brighton MP said the findings “fly in the face” of the government’s promise to cut carbon emissions and create a greener transport system.

Environment secretary Michael Gove pledged to phase out petrol and diesel cars on the UK’s roads by 2040 - but the cost of travelling by car has seen a continuous drop.

Plane tickets also cost about 20% less in 2016 than they did in 2000.

Parliament UK
Department for Transport figures show huge hikes in the cost of bus and rail travel

“A tiny reduction in rail fares between 2015 and 2016 doesn’t hide the extraordinarily skewed transport priorities of the government,” Lucas told HuffPost UK.

“The price of motoring and domestic flights has fallen through the floor in recent years, while already pricey public transport fares have soared.

“This winter we’ve again seen a huge hike in train fares - confirming once and for all that the government is intent on waging a war against public transport users, while bending over backwards to appease the motoring and aviation lobbies.

“Rather than continuing the environmentally damaging fuel duty freeze the government should be taking action to cut fares on trains, coaches and buses - and ploughing far more money into walking and cycling infrastructure too.”

The Campaign For Better Transport, which lobbies for better bus and rail services and infrastructure, said ministers must stop putting motoring ahead of greener forms of travel.

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Chief executive Stephen Joseph added: “These figures clearly show that while motoring costs have been going down, the cost of using public transport has been rising hugely in real terms.

“Much of this is down directly to government policy - successive governments have pursued a policy of above inflation rail fares rises, while cuts in bus funding have led to increased fares as well as reduced services.

“This isn’t in anyone’s interests. It’s leading to increased road congestion - which itself increases bus costs and fares - and also adds to air pollution and also social exclusion for those without cars or affordable public transport.

“The government needs to reconsider its transport policies and come up with simpler, fairer and cheaper fares so that more people use public transport and there is less pollution and congestion on our roads.”

Gove, described as having become a “full-throated environmentalist” by some campaigners, has already announced a ban on ivory sales and harmful pesticides, bigger penalties for animal cruelty, action on plastic waste and a post-Brexit “green revolution” with its own independent watchdog.  

He has promised to put greener transport - and its emission-cutting benefits - at the top of his agenda at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.