So the government has decided to review its intention to tax per mile for road travel. Bloody good job say I, the whole thing was particularly badly thought out.
It’s all very well for city folk to say, “Get a bus instead!” but out here in the sticks that just isn’t an option. If I were to give up my car, I would have a 40 minute walk to get Little’un to nursery followed by a 15 minute walk from the nursery to the bus station. I would then have to hope that one of the two hourly buses between Boston and Spalding was leaving at a good time for me. The bus takes an hour and costs about £3.00 each way. I would then have to walk from Spalding bus station to work, about 20 minutes. So, assuming that I didn’t have to wait for a bus, door to door would take nearly 2½ hours. Five hours a day getting to work and back on top of an 8½ hour working day just doesn’t fit into my life particularly well. The nursery isn’t open long enough to fit all the extra travelling time in. On top of that, travel costs of £120 a month are a lot more expensive than running my little car.
I could take a job closer to home, and believe me I have tried to find one, but there aren’t that many jobs out there which pay more than minimum wage that fit in with the childcare options open to me. I have had to take work with sufficient money and suitable hours where I can find it.
I could car share, and I would seriously consider it if anyone lived close to me that worked the same hours as me. The problem is, in rural areas, people in any one workplace can travel from miles in any direction to get to work. This means your colleagues live in a huge geographical area and may live 60 or 70 miles from you. Not ideal for car sharing, and not particularly fantastic for a work based social life either.
I suppose it might have helped me if Dr Beeching hadn’t closed the railway line between Boston and Spalding, although 40 years on I suppose it’s a bit late to complain about that – especially as the track was dug up and a road (which ironically, I drive down every day) was laid over the route. It really is a shame though, I could have managed fairly well with a pushbike and a train. The buses won’t let you take pushbikes on them, understandably, as there isn’t enough room.
The Yorkshireman has similar problems. He works slightly closer to home but travels in completely the opposite direction to me to get to his office. He would have the same problem with buses. The train doesn’t stop in the village where he works.
Don’t get me wrong, I realise that something has to be done about congestion and carbon emissions. I’m all for roads that are free flowing and air that is clean. If there was a viable alternative to being a two car family, believe me, I would take it.
The way I see it is that it is a far wider issue than that of road miles. As per pretty much everything in life, its all about money.
If we could afford to live on one salary, I wouldn’t work. We wouldn’t need a second car as I could walk or cycle pretty much everywhere I needed to go (once I had invested in suitable weatherproof gear of course, I like not being cold and wet). If childcare was cheaper, I could afford to take a lower paid job closer to home and again I could walk or cycle. If there was a direct, cheap, frequent bus service from Boston to Spalding I would use it.
Modern life is expensive. If the government can do something about that, I’ll give up the viscious circle that means that I need a car of my own (need a car to get a job, need a job so I can run a car). I can’t afford for my life to be made any more expensive than it already is. What I need is a practical alternative.
Over to you, Douglas Alexander.
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