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Railing against injustice

I’m going well off BBC Breakfast. More and more it’s a  platform for the grinding of axes, and a video box for actors, authors and musicians with something to sell. The presenters are amiably smug  . . . apart from Carol Kirkwood and Sally Nugent who should be given the whole show to run on their own . . . and the content is formulaic. Just occasionally, though, something does catch my attention and stops me from switching to Lorraine or to Sky News.

This morning there was a guy on arguing, in all seriousness, without a flicker of a smile, that bus passes should be taken from senior citizens and given to young people. There was also the obligatory guy arguing that they shouldn’t. Neither impressed me. I have a bus pass, but I use it very rarely, because if I have to go any distance I will either drive or take the train. However it isn’t just a bus pass, it’s an entitlement card that is programmed to be my library ticket as well, with the potential to serve other purposes. If Kim Jong-Eck and his Government decreed that I couldn’t have it any longer, it wouldn’t bother me, but I would take up the cudgels for those people who really do need the concession to let them go further than their own front door. Likewise I’d probably support travel concessions for jobseekers, during business hours, when the job centres are open and when interviews are held.

However I’m concerned that the bus pass argument is throwing up a smokescreen for a problem that is threatening the whole economy. Travel costs are becoming prohibitive for many people, but nobody in power is doing anything about it, not even demonstrating that they understand or care a toss. 

I have just renewed my senior railcard in Spain, for another year. It cost me €5.35, and it gives me 40% off every journey. It pays for itself in one journey to Barcelona. In the midst of the worst economic crisis in its democratic history, the one thing that the Spanish government is not raising significantly are the rail fares, recognising that if people have to choose between getting to work and food, there is no way back. On the other hand, in Britain rail and bus costs are spiralling. It’s time the lamentable UK government, which can offer only fudge and  compromise at a time when strength and clarity of purpose is needed most desperately, realised what is wrong with its own infrastructure and addressed it. Instead of pledging billions to create a high speed rail line between two English cities at some time in the dim and distant, it should be sorting out the shambles that our public transport system has become.

Categories: General, Politics
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