The Green Party believes that the transport system should serve the common good, not private profit
- Putting people before profit
- Bringing the railway system back into public ownership
- Re-regulating bus services
- Encouraging sustainable, local transport
- Public transport to be fully accessible by disabled people.
- Reduce car use and encourage walking and cycling with a complete network of pedestrian and cycle routes, with disabled access. Support car-free city centres.
Transport makes a big difference to our lives, both through the opportunities it makes available, and the environmental impact it can have. This is particularly true in a largely rural area like Somerton and Frome, where smaller communities can become isolated and public transport is increasingly inadequate. Many people are forced to use cars to make essential journeys, while others find that their options for getting around are severely limited.
The Green Party has comprehensive policies to deliver a transport system accessible to all, favouring sustainable options whilst minimising damage to the environment. We believe that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that all urban and rural areas are served by a public transport system which is reliable, safe, affordable, integrated and accessible to all users. It should be possible for a significant proportion of journeys currently undertaken by car to be transferable to more sustainable modes of public transport – trains, buses and trams – or for shorter journeys, or by walking or cycling – the most sustainable, and healthiest, modes of transport.
Underpinning this is a belief that our transport system should be run as a public service as its primary function, not for private profit. Under the current system public transport services are often overpriced with complex fare structures, while unprofitable services are withdrawn, and local people are not involved in decision making. The Green Party would ensure that fares were simple, and that there would always be a price advantage to using public transport over private vehicles. Local communities would be fully involved in decisions on service levels and infrastructure.
Rail services in Somerton and Frome are infrequent, expensive and overcrowded, reflecting the situation nationwide, where private rail operators have cut costs, raised fares above inflation, and reduced staffing levels. The Green Party would bring the entire rail system, both track and operators back, into public ownership – a policy most people agree with, but which no other party supports. The Green Party would invest substantially in infrastructure, introduce new rail services and stations where appropriate, and increase the capacity of existing services. The Green Party would aim for
a convenient service levels – a minimum of hourly for most services, and reintroduce staffing of stations as widely as possible.
Similarly, many bus services in the area are facing cuts in 2015 when Somerset County Council withdraws subsidies. Deregulation of the bus industry has led to providers being able to cherry pick profitable routes and leave the rest for cash-strapped councils to subsidise. We would re-regulate the industry, and give local authorities the responsibility for ensuring a high quality service by setting routes, frequencies and fares following thorough consultations with local people and user groups. In rural areas like this one we would expect hourly daytime services from villages to their nearest town and station, while in the most remote areas, regular bus services may not be appropriate, but alternative provision such as dial-a-ride would be made available.
To encourage walking and cycling, a complete network of pedestrian and cycle routes would be implemented, roads would be improved for cyclists and car-free city centres would be encouraged. Equal priority would be given for disabled access for those not able to walk or cycle.
Finally, the Green Party recognises that the environmental impact of transport could be reduced by developing a society where fewer journeys are necessary, for example by supporting more locally provided products and services or encouraging working from home.
Taken together, these policies would enable us to create a transport system which serves the needs of society and the environment in getting from A to B simply, cleanly and efficiently.
Detailed policies: Transport