'Radical change needed to create fairer transport system'

There are calls for action to be taken to bring about a reduction in car use.

‘Radical change needed to create fairer transport system’, says think tank iStock

Radical change is needed to create a fairer transport system in Scotland, it has been claimed.

New research indicates people on low incomes want to see action taken in order to help alleviate hardship.

It comes amid cost-of-living pressures, with a squeeze on household incomes and rising bills.

A YouGov study carried out for the think tank IPPR Scotland looking at the need to reduce car use in Scottish cities.

It found a majority (66%) of almost 500 adults with a household income of £14,999 or less surveyed do not believe that they are being listened to about decisions on transport where they live.

A similar number (62%) responded that they are worried about being able to afford transport.

Meanwhile, just over half (56%) said they agree that reducing the need for cars to travel would make Scotland a fairer country.

The think tank has argued that it should be possible for people to purchase a single, affordable ticket or season pass that provides access to community transport, local trains, buses and other transport.

They insist that there “urgently” needs to be a reduction in car use, with less physical space given to cars.

Researchers have also underlined the importance of citizens being involved in the decision-making process for transport in their areas.

Report author and principal research fellow, Becca Massey-Chase, explained that too many people in low incomes are “locked out” of opportunities.

“We urgently need to reduce emissions from road transport in Scotland, which makes up 69 per cent of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

“At the same time, if we involve people on low incomes in the process, then we can also make our transport system fairer.   

“Affordable, accessible, sustainable transport supports people to work, learn, participate in their communities, and access support networks.

“But too many people in low incomes are locked out of these opportunities – this needs to change if Scotland is to meet the twin challenge of building a fairer future and reducing its carbon emissions”.  

IPPR Scotland director Philip Whyte said policies with a focus on tackling social injustices are “sorely needed”.

“People on low incomes are less likely to be able to afford a car, but more likely to suffer the cost of people driving – in terms of their physical safety and health,” he said.

“As well as being a huge carbon emitter, our transport system isn’t working for so many people.

“As Scotland looks to reduce emissions from transport, an increased emphasis on policies that tackle the social injustices that our transport system currently perpetuates is sorely needed.”  

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the impact that the cost of living crisis is having across Scotland and we continue to do all we can to ensure people, communities and businesses are given as much support as possible to deal with these rising costs, despite many of the powers required to tackle these issues being reserved to the UK Government.

“We know that transport expenditure poses another – often unavoidable – expense, and our aim is to ensure access to affordable, accessible and sustainable transport across the country.

“We welcome that a majority of people surveyed share our ambition to cut car use and that it will help create a fairer Scotland.

“We recognise the challenge too in ensuring people who need to use public transport the most can afford to do so, without that impinging on other living costs.”

They added: “We need more people to choose to use the car less, but also to realise that with current fuel costs, using the car can be more expensive now than using public transport where that is available.

“We will continue to look at ways to make public transport more affordable during this crisis and beyond, including by progressing our Fair Fares review with urgency.”

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