July 6th, 2010 by Peter Roffey
Oh dear. Guernsey’s road transport strategy really is in a mess. At the heart of the original plan were very cheap bus fares and the introduction of modest, long stay, parking charges to encourage a drift from car use to public transport.
This wasn’t driven by blind ideology but by increasing congestion on Guernsey’s limited road network. It was realised that failure to act would either require massive spending on road improvement or else accepting the negative impacts on our economy and our quality of life which come from traffic constipation.
Unusually the States showed the courage to commit to a logical, structured plan to deal with the problem – knowing it would prove very unpopular in some quarters. Far more predictably they have now lost their bottle. First they did a u-turn on paid parking and now they’re proposing a move which means multi-journey bus fares will have rapidly increased by 150% from the original 20p to 50p. That might still sound reasonable but undoubtedly the ultra-low fares helped spawn Guernsey’s new age of bus travel and it’s a crying shame to put such a success story at risk.
Yes I know the States are strapped for cash and the question will be – “where is the money to come from to sustain the bus subsidy”? The two counter questions are :- 1. How come we’ve got the cash to subsidise long term parking by providing free spaces for a minority of islanders on very valuable land which belongs to us all? 2. Where are we going to find the cash to deal with the inevitable infrastructural consequences of stoking private car use?