Green MEP slams government for ‘not caring’ about air pollution as public transport costs continue to soar

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has attacked the failure of consecutive governments to take action on deadly air pollution as new figures reveal public transport prices have soared in the last four decades while the cost of travelling by car has dropped dramatically.

Government statistics published in response to a written question by Caroline Lucas MP show the cost of motoring, including purchasing a vehicle, has fallen by 20% since 1980, while rail fares have risen by 63% and bus and coach fares are up by 64%.

The UK’s toxic air quality crisis is responsible for an estimated 40,000 unnecessary deaths every year.

Commenting on the findings, Keith Taylor said:

“The stark difference between the cost of travelling by car and taking public transport exposes, yet again, just how little this government cares about tackling the air pollution crisis at its root. It also lays bare 40 years of Labour and Conservative public transport investment and privatisation failures.”

“Across the South East, train fares continue to rise while services fail to improve. And bus fares are the highest in the country, outside of London. It is little wonder that there is overwhelming support for proposals to put public transport back in public hands. You need look no further than the government’s attempts to delay a report into the failed privatisation of Southern Rail until after the election.”

“If we keep pushing people into cars instead of promoting and providing decent and affordable rail and public transport, our air is only going to get more dangerous to breathe.”

Last Thursday the High Court ruled the government must reveal its draft plan for tackling air quality after the local elections this week. It had previously sought to delay publication of the strategy until after the general election on June 8.

Keith, a member of the European Parliament’s Public Health and Transport committees, added:

“Clean air isn’t a luxury, it’s a basic human need. All around the South East, in our town and city centres people live and work whilst breathing in dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution. This is having a serious impact on our health.”

“It’s a scandal that Tory Minsters show such a shocking disregard of the UK’s legal and moral obligation to take action on air pollution. Even more outrageous that they sought to use the general election as an excuse for inaction and to cover up their total failure to protect public health.”

“Our air quality crisis needlessly claims the lives of more than 4,000 people every year in the South East alone. That’s 78 lives cut tragically short every week the Government fails to take action.”

“That it is the European Commission and ClientEarth having to hold Theresa May to account nationally for a public health crisis that costs the British public more than £20bn a year is a shameful indictment of the Conservatives’ irresponsible and deadly apathy.”

“The government readily acknowledges that any positive air quality action it has been forced to take has been driven by EU law. Greens are committed to resisting the Prime Minister’s plans for an extreme Brexit which puts these vital EU safeguards at risk.”