Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Driving me crazy (again)

News over the weekend that the government is to impose a price hike of two pence on a litre of fuel has caused outrage amongst the motoring community. Some outraged individual (actually I think he was something to do with the RAC Club) went on the radio to grumble about further persecution of the motorist, as seems to happen every time there's a rise in prices at the pump, pedestrianisation of a major town centre, roadworks, or bad weather.

The gist of what the guy said was that motoring is the dominant form of travel in the country (he actually said "not many people use the train" which I thought frankly laughable), and therefore drivers should be a protected species, coddled and cossetted and generally afforded preferential treatment whilst the rest of us pay the price.

It's hard not to feel a touch of schaudenfreude here, what with the announcement that, for the first time in many years, rail fares are not going to go up next year. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that the price of petrol has come down significantly over the last twelve months. The idea that the poor hard-up motorist doesn't get looked after the the government is ludicrous - the sheer amount of roadworks is testament to that. Have you see the M25 recently?

Now I'm hardly an eco-warrior - I drive a car (at weekends), own a big flatscreen telly and sometimes overfill the kettle. But surely there is an environmental argument here - viz cars cause more pollutions than trains or buses (on a strictly per-head basis) so motoring shouldn't be the cheapest option. Surely we should be encouraging more people to use public transport, or some other alternative form of transportation, and we all know that the way to a motorist's brain is through his/her pocket.

There was an outcry a couple of years back about a proposed "pay-as-you-throw" tax to try to tackle the volume of waste (specifically foodwaste) that people were producing. I thought it was a nifty idea - it would really have forced people to reappraise their behaviour and values. But it got canned because it would cause a storm of protest.

It just goes to show that people are very willing to jump on a bandwagon as long as they aren't the ones paying to keep it rolling.


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