TRANSPORT: Services for public good

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In the last week many programmes on TV and radio, as well as doctors, have been flagging up the dangers of air pollution from cars, etc, and I include CO2, which causes climate change, as well as NO2 and particulates.

Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group has been campaigning for two years on this issue and is grateful to Friends of the Earth in North Tyneside for taking samples of air quality. At least 40,000 people a year die from air pollution in England.

One television programme reviewed Freiberg in Germany, which has reduced car usage, and as a result cut air pollution by 20 per cent. There has been strong political leadership to achieve this.

Air pollution has been reduced by charging 20,000 Euros for a parking space, providing wide spaces for walking and cycling and high quality public transport. This has meant a high level of expenditure and an understanding by drivers that their health matters.

In England, one in eight children now has asthma.

Our concern in campaigning on public transport is that we need to have regulation of buses, hopefully through the Bus Services Bill going through Parliament.

We are seeing more cuts in Stagecoach bus services in Newcastle and fear North Tyneside will be affected soon. Bus services need to be for the public good and should be a public service, not gauged on profit.

To get involved and hear about the work going on to try to improve public transport, walking and cycling, come to the Transport Forum at Wallsend Library on Thursday, March 16, from 6pm to 8pm. Representatives of Nexus and North Tyneside Council will be present.

Vicki Gilbert

North Tyneside Public Transport Users Group