As Mrs Thatcherput it: "Any man who rides a bus to work after the age of 30 can counthimself a failure in life". In an attempt to kill public transport, Conservative governments have put in place public transport systems that are designed to make profit. They are not designed to serve their users with the best and most cost effective journey – they are just interested in profit. There is in no competition between rail operators in Newbury. We have only one incumbant supplier who's worries all come from the shareholder and not the rail user. So is there any surprise when the rail operators – First Great Western – look to cram as much profit (people) into each train?
The utilitarian state of our rail stations, trains and station facilities (such as parking) also deter people from the train network. Up until very recently, the car park in Newbury would fill with rain making it impossible to walk with dry feet from the car to the station; seats and facilities are refreshed but in a cold almost military way (where is the Newbury in our station?); and staff seem demoralised.
You can get an idea of the state of trains from the one I was on the other day… https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150275670839736&set=a.411882899735.185075.609674735&type=1&ref=nf
What we need is very simple:
-Stations that reflect the community they serve
-Train's that cost effectively provide clean comfortable seats for all
-Simple train fares that don't penalise buy on the day ticket prices
-Train tickets that include the seat number at purchase – if there are no seats left TOC should pay fines for standing customers.
-Train tickets by default include the cost of parking (until the rest of the transport system is functional this is an essential stop gap that will atract more people)
-Seat configurations that allow commuters and business people enough space to work (working on a train in standard is almost impossible)
-Family spaces that can actually support families (I've never managed to get our lot into a single group of seats – we always have to spread out down the train in different seats or stand)
Can the Tories and Liberal Democrats do this? I doubt it, they lack the vision and the ability to deliver.
For the moment, I can only hope that when the next government is elected people remember that they voted for this mess, and to vote with their feet.
West Berkshire Green Party