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Not giving up my motor just yet
12:43pm Tuesday 3rd July 2012 in Editor Ian Murray's Blog
The idea of an Oyster-Card style initiative for Southampton and Hampshire (Daily Echo yesterday) has merit.
Whether it will encourage large numbers of us to leave the car behind and take to public transport remains to be seen.
The funding for the scheme that will allow commuters to use a smart card to hop and off busses, ferries and, eventually, trains is coming from the government. The region has been awarded almost £18m to tackle issues that it is hoped will push public transport to the fore.
The whole scheme will boost jobs in the region by some 1,500, we reported.
Which is good. However I have a few nagging doubts – and I am trying always to be positive about green issues.
What works so well in London, for instance, with its many millions of commuters who would never dream of using their car in the city centre, may now be so appealing to car users here in the south.
For one thing parking in Southampton, although reasonably high, is nowhere near the levels to be found in the capital. Thirty pounds to park for less than half a day is not unheard of.
What’s more, the traffic while not wonderful in our cities and towns is not at a level that deters motorists from staying behind the wheel.
The only place where I do agree public transport is the best option is Winchester. Many is the time I have been forced to give up and abandon plans to park in the city centre, so scare are spaces. The park and ride provided by the city council is a success in that respect.
Am I then advocating that Southampton removed parking spaces and ups prices to force us all out of our vehicles? Not at all. The arguments for economic prosperity being boosted by ease of travel – and that means by car – remain strong. The jams need to get far worse before commuters and shoppers will seriously look to abandoning the convenience of their own motors.
But the grant from the government and the initiatives it will support, are to be welcomed. Just don’t expect me to leave the car behind just yet.