There are excellent reasons for raising the cost of fuel and motoring generally, which if anything have increased in importance since the last protests (Report, September 15th). The costs of private motoring have declined relative to the Retail Price Index: when put alongside the factors which should be considered when assessing the “real” cost of motoring, like increases in average wages, GDP or house prices, the costs for the average motorist as a proportion of income have significantly declined.
We have increased motor traffic, when we need a halt to increases for environmental and health reasons. We have increasing use of SUVs and other gas guzzlers: prototypes of fuel efficient cars have been available for decades but remain out of production because of the cheap price of fuel. We have more road freight mileage when we should be encouraging local production and consumption.
Naturally issues such as the position of lower income motorists need careful consideration: one solution could be subsidies for them paid by greater taxation on wealthier motorists, as happens with income taxation. But whatever happens, the costs we should be talking about are those to our society and environment of increasing car dependence. We remember John Prescott’s pledge to cut motor traffic – now is a good time to revive the commitment to reduce traffic, not assist in its increase.