How are you all, by the way? Good? Happy and healthy and enjoying the new Obama universe? Good good. I like to check in on my readers every so often. All 7 of you.
Anyway, if you’re short of anything really, really long but QI to read this evening, have a look at the DfT’s Delivering a Sustainable Transport System plan. I got to it from a link in an email from the Campaign for Better Transport, who would like people to respond to the plan highlighting its omission of transport incentives to encourage greener transport. In other words, Q- ‘How do we get more people to get the train instead of flying?’ A – ‘Cap train fares, fool.’
The problem, as we know, is that the government don’t especially want people to get the train instead of flying, because, as it says in the summary of their report, ‘there can sometimes be tension between the different goals when considering decisions about future investment. In particular, supporting economic growth while reducing greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be the most challenging to deliver in parallel, at least in the short term’. (While I disagree entirely with the go-ahead on the 3rd runway, I do accept that the government made this decision for more honourable reasons than the ‘Tories for Cheap Flights‘* group has in mind.)
So, how does the DfT possibly hope to reconcile the economic agenda with the environmental? We know it can be done – I seem to recall a certain scheme in Manchester that would have stimulated Manchester’s economic growth while cutting carbon emissions, had it not been foiled – but see what you think of this:
‘For domestic transport, we shall be looking to maximise the contribution from improving the carbon efficiency of all modes of transport, encouraging behavioural change, and supporting the provision of lower emission transport. This will support freedom of choice about when and how to travel.’
Nngh. In the absence of genuine, congestion-charge-stylee ‘synergy’ (yes, I know it’s a horrible word, but you know what it means) between economic and environmental goals, ‘freedom of choice’ will always take precedence. What this translates to is making it easier and easier and easier for people to fly. If it’s actually cheaper to fly to France than to get the train to St. Pancras, what kind of freedom of choice is that?
* Yes, I linked to Guido. I’m not planning to make a habit of it.