Car is still the king
NEW figures released yesterday show car dependency in Swindon is on the rise as more than two thirds of commuters currently drive to work.
A report released by the RAC shows 69.7 per cent of all commuters in the town drive to and from work.
This puts 76,286 vehicles on the roads during the peak rush hours.
Only just over 10 per cent of commuters walk to work, with 4.3 per cent using their bicycles, and 0.5 per cent regularly calling taxis.
A number of initiatives have been launched in Swindon recently to promote alternative modes of transport, including Swindon Travel Choices, which seeks to get commuters and travellers out of their cars.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland thinks that, while attitudes are changing, many people have no choice but to use cars.
He said: “With increasing use of transportation, including the buses and railways, it means issues around infrastructure will have to be a priority. It will be more important for our town as time goes on.
“I believe that if we are to continue to grow as we have, it is essential that we have the right infrastructure in place to keep that going.
“It is a long road, but reports like this are very helpful in focusing on the fact that people rely heavily on their cars to get around.
“Issues like the cost of fuel will always be a significant point, and something that we have to keep a watchful eye on.
“I am a great believer in getting out there and using alternative means of transport, so the money being used to improve connections between West Swindon and the town centre are very welcome.
“Bearing in mind the fact that the costs of using cars have gone up, it is going to be important for us to think conservatively about using our cars, but as a town that makes cars and has grown as a result, attracting people into the town centre has worked to great effect.
“People depend on their cars for their work, but think differently about leisure activities for the weekend. I think issues like the cost of living are important in Swindon, and they take that into account.
“We have got to recognise that people might be doing commutes in their work, but on the weekend will want to do something different. You always see people jogging and cycling around the town, and it is the sort of place where these activities can be encouraged.”
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The coalition government has rightly prioritised efforts to get the nation working, but it has to remember how the nation actually travels to work.
“Westminster politicians risk being fixated with travel by train, bus and bike, but the reality is that outside of London the car dominates the journey to work.
“The vast majority of workers in rural areas are heavily dependent on their cars, but the surprise is that the same could be said of many urban commuters.
“People are still driving despite a decade over which the cost of running a car has outstripped wage inflation and that’s because most have no alternative.
“Transport poverty is a real threat to the economy and there needs to be renewed justification from ministers as to why such an essential product as road fuel is taxed at 60 per cent.”
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