There need to be some radical measures taken to change the transport system of the UK.

These should include making public transport cheap or free, providing a proper cycling network and cutting the cost of electric cars. Free or cheap public transport would bring people off the roads and out of the skies.

There needs to be a truly comprehensive, safe cycle network of the type seen in other European countries.

Finally, the whole electrification of vehicles needs speeding up. The charging network needs to expand and cost of electric vehicles brought down dramatically.

All these measures will require government investment on a large scale. The fruits of such a policy, though, will be many fold. 

Not only would such measures dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions but they would also contribute to equality in society.

At present, those with the most have the biggest polluting vehicles that cost everyone a disproportionate amount of money to keep on the road. Public transport in the UK is amongst the most expensive in the world.

It is cheaper to drive virtually anywhere in the country, if there are three or four of you than to buy rail tickets. The costs are so ridiculous that flying can be the cheapest form of transport.

Looking to the way other European countries operate is instructive.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan has been looking at public transport in EuropePaul Donovan has been looking at public transport in Europe

In Germany, responding to the cost-of-living crisis, a ticket was introduced last year costing £6 a month with unlimited travel. This saw internal flights drop by 49% in the first month. 

In Spain, free travel was introduced while Italy brought in low cost travel for low income families. Transport in France has always been at a nominal cost.

Polluting vehicles reduce, whilst those on lower incomes benefit from free/cheap travel.
Ofcourse, these countries have strong, progressive political leadership.

In the UK this is often lacking. The Prime Minister has become the champion of the polluters, based it seems on one by-election victory in Uxbridge, where he believes opposition to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) won the day for his candidate.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has shown the sort of leadership on ULEZ and other transport issues that is needed.

Indeed, right through the political system there needs to be leadership shown. We can't just talk the talk but need to walk the walk.

The pattern of transport used by local councillors would make for interesting reading. If set against the Mayor's active travel targets, some 80% of us should be getting around by public transport, cycle or on foot. 

Some strong political leadership will be required, otherwise the slow piecemeal approach will continue. And we don't have the time for that.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (