Transport: What we need

The basic standard for transport would be access to regular public transport services that will not place restrictions on accessing employment during normal working hours, with access to electric bike hire from 14 years and to community carpools as appropriate.

Public Transport

The rail network must be fully returned to public or community led operating companies, holding responsibility for all activities on the most localised basis possible.

Each local County level authority should become a bus operator, ensuring that service coverage is universally provided by a system that allows equal basic access to everyone, whether they live in a city, town or village location.

Parish and town councils (or their equivalent) should be supported to establish community bike and carpool hubs, providing access to those of us who have a legitimate requirement to access personal transport.

They must, on behalf of the local community, be able to set by-laws which govern their access and use.


Essential Services to the Public

As discussed earlier, public services have become a political football and plaything for politicians, public sector workers and those with a financial interest in them alike.

Man cannot have two masters, just as you cannot put two saddles on the same horse. Services that are provided for the benefit of the public must have the benefit to the public as their primary aim and their overriding priority. As soon as private interests are involved, profit is the master, so public services must always be in public or community hands.

In order for everyone to have unfettered, affordable and reliable access to services that should be accessible in the same way for everyone, no matter where they live, it is essential that certain public services that are currently ‘owned’ and managed by ‘private’ and therefore ‘profit making’ interests are returned to public – or rather community hands.

The caveat is that legislation enabling unions to influence working practices at any level within public services of any kind must be rescinded.

Any responsibility for complaints relating to public sector employment practices not covered elsewhere by the Levelling Level proposal must be addressed by a third-party body, that cannot influence day-to-day operations and public service provision in any way.

Petrol & Diesel

Petrol and Diesel will only remain essential for personal use as long as we maintain the unnecessary use of cars that run on these fuels.

As we reduce the number of cars that households own, the practical need or requirement for the use of fossil fuels for vehicles that cannot be used efficiently or reliably using emerging technologies – such as buses, trains, agricultural vehicles, heavy goods and delivery vehicles, will quickly become a lot more sustainable than it currently is.

Personal Transport

The age when every member of any household owned and ran a car is over. Inflationary price changes are telling you this right now, even if you don’t want to think about it yet.

We do not need to travel in the ways that we have been doing so.

It is extremely costly for us both personally and for the world to be travelling around as we have been.

As it is only large corporate interests that now really profit from our being able to do so – whether it’s through the provision of fuel, energy, roads, cars, insurance or anything else associated with their purchase, running or maintenance, the need for personal transport that may have existed at one point no longer exists.

It is inevitable that our perceived reliance and love affair with having our own car must stop.

The way forward for us all – where any kind of longer journey is required – is to focus on better, more efficient and more reliable public transport – that MUST be in public or rather community hands.

Where transport by car (or small commercial vehicle) is the only sensible way to undertake a journey, because of the destination, purpose or time of the day, we should be using shared environmentally friendly vehicles through community lending or carpooling rather than commercial rental services, so that any profit-making element is removed from the provision of transport services that must be available to us all.

Community lending should extend to the loan or non-profit rental of electric bikes too.

The most effective way for every community to go forward, would be for parish & town councils or their equivalent in local areas, to own and manage their own personal transport hubs.

Santa, Public Transport and a fold-up battery powered bike

20 Years ago, I was in the final months of running and developing the JumpStart Project for the Gloucestershire Rural Community Council before I moved over to Shire Hall at the beginning of the following February.

I’d been with GRCC for a couple of years and really enjoyed developing new services for a Charity project operating around the rural Districts of Gloucestershire that helped unemployed people who were trying to access jobs or training and couldn’t get there because they didn’t have any transport.

We were already lending out mopeds and bicycles, as well as buying people their first weekly bus ticket or just opening another door to someone else who might be able to help them.

I was looking for creative ways to provide more options for the people we were helping, that would also encourage the local Councils and our existing partners to keep supporting us by experiencing even better results.

One day, I saw an editorial for what may have been the first or certainly one of the very first companies to start importing battery powered bikes into the UK at the time. You may not believe it, but sustainability was already a big thing outside of the mainstream and I quickly concluded that these bikes were just the thing that we needed and really would provide a win-win.

The funders I approached agreed with me too. In fact, our main partner on this new offering was the local Rural Transport Partnership who had recently taken on a PR guy called Stuart Bexon, who I still suspect had got lost on his way somewhere else and thought he’d just have six months out whilst he was here and see if he could humour the public sector in some way.

When I met Stuart for the first time to talk about the funding we’d just won, we hit it off in comical style and it felt like a meeting of caper-driven minds and a bit of a coming home.

Very keen to make the best of the opportunity for publicity that we realised we had; we bantered our way through one of the funniest brainstorms you could imagine.

Armed with the sense that we had been tasked to promote the concept of integrated transport in its most literal form, we soon concluded that the best way to do so would be to take a fold-up battery powered bike around the whole of Gloucestershire’s Public Transport network – with yours truly dressed as Santa Clause.

Over three days in mid-December 2001 using the borrowed Toyota Prius ‘support car’ that Stuart had blagged from Bill Allen Toyota – the Cheltenham Toyota Dealer at the time, we set about delivering on our ridiculous – but very successful plan.

The local media absolutely loved it. Wherever we ended up or passed through, a reporter or journalist wasn’t very far away and the picture here that I borrowed from the Countryside Agency Publication ‘Two Wheels Work’ was taken on Cheltenham Promenade shortly after we ended what I believe was the final day at the front door of John Dower House – which was the base of the CA at the time.

I think my only (possible) regret was the look of bewilderment on the face of a very young child when they got on to the bus to Cirencester at the next stop after we started in Tetbury and sat opposite Santa for the whole journey. It was quite clear they were wondering where the hell the Reindeer and Sleigh had gone and why Santa had turned up early riding on the same bus with his giant arm draped over a fold-up bike!!!