Policies for Public Transport
Transport is at a crossroads: significant changes in policy have taken place over the last seven years and the future is uncertain, particularly when placed in the context of rising energy prices and recession. The background is well known: growth in the number of private vehicles and in the use of those vehicles. Almost 85 per cent of all vehicular passenger travel is now made by private transport, which has continued to be the main growth area despite a doubling of petrol prices over the last six years. There are two reasons for this. First, petrol prices in real terms are still as cheap as they were in 1975, and second, relative to other modes, the costs of travel by the private car have risen less. Bus travel has declined from the peak levels in 1952 (83 thousand million passenger kilometres) to present level of under half that amount. The rate of decline was stemmed during the 1970s, but recently a significant downturn has taken place, as fares have risen, services have been reduced and levels of revenue support cut. Fewer people travelled by rail in the 1970s but average journey lengths increased. However, in 1979 British Rail were able to reverse this trend through rigorous marketing and fare deals. As many passenger kilometres were travelled in 1979 as in 1962 when the network was some 30 per cent larger.
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