Bus stop and cycle path. Photo: SPSmiler/CC
Bus stop and cycle path. Photo: SPSmiler/CC

Kick profit out of public transport

Basil Bowditch, Crawley Socialist Party member

As the current climate crisis hurtles us towards an ‘apocalyptic’ future, many people are searching for how we can reduce and reverse the damage caused by nearly two centuries of fossil fuel use.

This damage is largely due to the massive amounts of pollution produced by global corporations in their obsessive and dangerous pursuit of accumulating wealth at any cost. An Oxfam report last year found that the richest 1% were responsible for producing the same amount of carbon-based pollution as two thirds of the planet’s population!

Need for public transport

Nearly 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Britain came from domestic transport, the majority from cars. There are also massive negative health implications; pollution from motor vehicles costs the NHS £6 billion, according to an Oxford University study in 2018. A high-quality, free public transport system would have a huge impact.

Public transport services have been brought to their knees by privatisation. Private companies have hiked up ticket prices, cut staff and neglected the needed technological upgrades. We have seen a massive drop in the standards of service, resulting in a huge disincentive for many in using it. A nationalised system, controlled by workers as part of a democratic plan, would mean we could invest in workers and customer satisfaction. Allowing workers to investigate environmentally friendly travel would benefit us all.

Local councils could put this into action today. They could bring bus services back in-house, kicking out the profiteers. They could invest in alternatives like safe cycling routes across counties and more public walkways from town to town.

However, with the current state of council funding, due to nearly fifteen years of Tory austerity, improving public transport seems to be an almost impossible task. Environmental campaigners should support councillors who refuse to implement Tory government cuts and mobilise working-class people, trade unions and community campaigns to demand the funding needed.

This year gives workers another chance to fight against austerity, with the general election just around the corner, and local elections on 2 May. We have the opportunity to vote against cutbacks and to back candidates who will fight to bring many of our services back into full public ownership. Socialist Party members are standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, fighting to put an end to the system that leaves our public services in the hands of private owners with one overriding objective of maximising profits. We are fighting for a socialist solution to end climate change – for mass investment under democratic workers’ control and management by nationalising the big banks and businesses.