Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Upside down price incentives

The figures in the letter from Phillip Morris, Bristol to Newcastle by train £116.70 and by plane £43.98, show a clear financial incentive to fly (‘Why take the train when the plane is so much cheaper’, Open Lines, February 10). Our society often has its financial incentives upside down because of the way it shifts the social and environmental cost burden onto society and onto future generations instead of factoring them fully into the price individuals pay now.

Phillip’s flight to Newcastle emits between 122 and 160 kg of carbon dioxide for every passenger. Going by train would emit between 37 and 59 kg of carbon dioxide pollution per passenger. The environmental advantage of the train is very clear but it is not reflected in the price paid.

We should reassess all modes of transport and adjust price incentives using a mix of regulation and taxation. Travelling by rail needs to become cheaper and flying more expensive, to reflect their total costs. The huge subsidies to the airports industry hidden in government funding for regional development, roads and airport infrastructure need to go. £9 billion a year for investment in greener transport like trains would be gained if aviation fuel was taxed and aviation transactions were subject to VAT.

A vote for Bristolians on a congestion charge proposal - once we have one!!

No comments:
'Opponents of congestion charges are calling for the people of Bristol to be given a chance to vote on the issue – on local elections day, June 4.' reports the local paper's website today.

I'm very strongly in favour of Bristolians voting on a proposal for large, additional investment in public transport to be followed by the introduction of a congestion charge which will then raise further money for investment in public transport. However, we need a specific proposal showing the details first so that we all know what we are voting on! On this occasion I agree with Cllr Mark Bradshaw's good sense view (extract below) rejecting voting this summer therefore.

"But we are not simply going to reject the possibility given the demand for better, more integrated public transport and the need for a huge injection of funding to pay for this.

"Though the West of England Partnership is exploring various models for congestion charging, which could be part of this bid if it occurs, it is a long way from any firm proposals.

Its close minded to reject all and any proposals that involve congestion charging - and clear political opportunism in the months running up to local and European elections. Solving Bristol's serious transport problems must mean keeping options open and giving serious consideration to proposals once the details are available - form a view then!!