Warning over 'transport poverty'

Train ticketsMillions of people risk being plunged into debt because of the high cost of travel which is worsening the work prospects of the unemployed, according to a report.

Cycling charity Sustrans warned that more than one and a half million people in England are at "serious risk" of being cut off from work and healthcare because of the rising costs of owning a car, and the lack of alternatives.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
A growing number of people are suffering from "transport poverty", often forced to run a car they cannot afford because of soaring rail fares or cuts to bus services, said the report.

Sustrans urged the Government to invest more in transport to benefit everyone, not just those with cars.

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of Sustrans, said: "For many people owning a car is a source of debt and poverty, and this is unlikely to change in the long term with fuel prices going up and up.

"For decades ministers have made decisions based on everyone having easy access to a car, forcing many of us into car ownership we can barely afford and leaving others stranded. We need a transport system that works for everyone - not one designed to best suit those who can afford a car."

Rail passengers face "eye watering" increases in the new year, while bus services are being cut across the country, said Sustrans.

Two-thirds of jobseekers do not have access to a car, making it harder for them to find work, the report added.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "This timely and important piece of research shows that the failure of government policy has left millions cut off from vital transport lifelines that many take for granted.

"The poisonous combination of fare increases, cuts to bus services and the relentless attack on household budgets has conspired to leave some of the most vulnerable isolated and unable to access basic services. This report will be important ammunition in the fight for a wholesale change in transport policy."

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