Cars are often a necessity and, in themselves, represent freedom. In some areas, a reduction in car usage could lead to social fragmentation. People often need cars to be kept in touch. Cars, as such, are not a problem.
Over-motoring, however, may be a symptom of another problem. The car may be the best work-around there is. We should not address the symptom without addressing the underlying problems of poor local infrastructure, over-crowding leading to congestion, and poor urban planning.
Flat Rate Taxes which attempt to address these problems can often hit the poor hardest. Therefore, we do not support congestion charging, nor do we support road tolls.
Instead, we promote:
- Affordable and practical public transport. Public transport should not aim to replace private transport since that would create a dependency. Rather it should be seen as complementary to private transport, offering all the people of Scotland an affordable and practical transport choice.
- More investment in rail, light rail and buses.
- An increase in park-and-ride facilities.
- Research and development into alternative and cleaner forms of fuel - for example hydrogen fuel cell technology, especially for buses in towns and cities.
- Tax cuts for cleaner fuels and cleaner vehicles. Technology, not taxation, cuts pollution.
- All students in full-time education to have half-price public transport across Scotland.
- All pensioners and disabled people to have free public transport across Scotland.
- Councils to be encouraged to slash the price of public transport within specific city boundaries.
It is ridiculous that the only oil-producing nation in Europe has the highest fuel prices. Car and lorry owners in Britain are the most heavily taxed in Europe. Three-quarters of the price at the pump is tax.
People in the North of Scotland especially, are forced to do more miles than anyone else and have to pay more for it. In the Highlands and Islands, petrol since the Budget can cost several pence more a litre than in Glasgow. It can take three-quarters of a tank of fuel just to get to the nearest fuel pump.
There is often little public transport and you need some sort of vehicle just to maintain any quality of life. Clearly, fuel tax hits hardest at those in rural areas, and on low incomes.
We advocate that fuel prices should be subsidised in order to ensure equality of price throughout the UK. It does not make any sense to punish car users when cars are often their only means of transport.
Again, we advocate developing improved public transport in order to ensure that people have an affordable and practical choice in the matter.
We need to be pragmatic, not dogmatic. We acknowledge that cars are more efficient consumers of fuel at cruising speed, and that they belch out more pollution when stuck in congestion. We also note that people don't travel on the motorway just for the fun of it. They only use it to get from A to B. Each case must be dealt with on its merits and above all, the concerns of the local community must be paramount.