“Investing in our public transport is part of the solution to the problem, we are already in a crisis and we must act now. Making travel affordable is proven to take people out of their cars and onto greener, more efficient public transport.”Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary
By Paul Atkin
In a sharply worded blog on the TSSA web site, General Secretary Manuel Cortes notes that we have to deal with “two crises running in parallel – the climate … heating up at an unprecedented rate leading to increased extreme weather disasters and …an ever-deepening Tory cost of living crisis, inflation and costs are up, but wages are stagnant” and calls for a sharp cut in public transport fares to reduce costs, fossil fuel use and pollution.
He contrasts the miserable experience of the UK with “the biggest increase to rail fares in nine years, ..set to go up further” – at a time when people won’t be able to afford to run their cars even if they want to – with imaginative and successful action to cut fares across Europe..
- In May Germany set up a €9 a month ticket for unlimited public transport over the summer. This has been… a huge success. Over 31 million tickets were sold and passenger numbers reached up to pre-pandemic levels, increasing rail travel and decreasing road use…The €9 ticket is a fraction of the normal cost of travel, amounting to around a sixth of the price of the cheapest monthly ticket available for Berlin’s central zones”.
- Austria launched its Klimaticket (climate ticket) in late 2021… to encourage people to ditch their cars, the scheme proved extremely popular, with its website almost crashing when the tickets went on sale. The annual pass, priced at €1,095, works out at just €21 a week or €3 a day.
- In July, Spain announced it will make public transport free, by reinvesting the funds from a windfall tax on energy companies. From September until the end of the year, passengers can ride commuter and medium-distance trains across the country totally free of charge.
- Luxembourg was the first country in Europe to make public transport free in 2020 and despite the pandemic is happy with the results. As well as off-setting price rises for working people, the move was also designed to reduce car congestion, as Luxembourg has more cars per person than any other country in Europe and is consequently plagued by heavy traffic. It is expected that public transport usage in Luxembourg will have increased by 20 percent by 2025.
The British model – that prioritises the profitability of private operators over the needs of travellers and climate – is unsustainable, both in costs for commuters and impact on carbon emissions. This also applies to buses.
As Cortes says “Investing in our public transport is part of the solution to the problem, we are already in a crisis and we must act now. Making travel affordable is proven to take people out of their cars and onto greener, more efficient public transport. What are we waiting for?”
Slashing public transport fares has to be a key demand in our fight over our cost of living this winter. Let’s make sure all our unions and campaigns take it up!
- For more info heck out the Future of Rail; a TSSA project which makes the case for well funded public transport run by highly skilled workers for the benefit of the economy and the people. Follow the project on Twitter here.
- This article was originally published by Greener Jobs Alliance on August 4th, 2022.