The Bridge Tax and Public Transport

March 28, 2019

There are few sights more iconic than the bridges over the Tyne.  They’re famous, and represent the ingenuity and industrial skill we’re known for.  We should not be charging people to use them.

We have an air pollution problem, and it needs fixing. The government’s answer? To force local councils to put an extra charge on buses and taxis, but people who can afford new cars can drive for free.  Like most Tory policies, this will hit the poorest, hardest.

I am totally opposed to charging ordinary working people £12:50 a day for the Clean Air Zone. That’s £3000 a year to get to work!

The Tory government has known about this since 2011 when they were taken to court for breaking clean air standards. Instead of dealing with the problem, they fought against it in the courts for years. When they finally lost, they passed the buck to local councils.  They even say in their ministerial edict, that political or economic objections shall not be taken into consideration.  In other words, even though the people don’t want it, and local councils oppose it, the government will force it upon us.

Although we can rarely see it, poor air quality is responsible for around 40,000 early deaths a year, including hundreds in Tyneside.  There is no safe level of air pollution, and the effects build up over time.  We do have to address this.

The answer is public transport. The Tories give London £4,155 per person for public transport funding. In the North East, we get just £855 per person.

I’ll be working with our local councils to get proper funding to extend the Metro up to Blyth and Ashington, to extend the Metro to the west of Newcastle, and improve our rail services on the East Coast mainline.  I know our Labour councils are keen to work with me on this. 

I’ll also introduce a joint ticketing system – where you can just tap in and tap out with your debit card, and it will calculate the best fare for your journey, whether you use buses, rail or Metro in your trip.  It’ll speed up journeys – a bit – and save you money if you change buses or trains. 

Along with a local app to track the buses and plan your route, this will boost public transport use.  Where it’s been introduced in other cities, there’s been up to 40% increase in public transport use, taking cars off the road.  It makes getting to work, college or a night out easier, and provides economic as well as environmental sustainability.