Is it fair for motorists to subsidise buses?

Under the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP)’s Sustainable Travel Zone proposals, income from road charging will be used to fund bus services and infrastructure for walking and cycling. Why is it fair for motorists to fund more sustainable forms of transport?

Car ownership actually has a significant social cost that is borne by society as a whole and not just drivers, making driving itself subsidised. The hours drivers spend stuck in congestion damage the economy: in 2019, the annual cost of congestion on the UK roads amounted to £6.9bn, or £894 per driver. Parking spaces provided by local businesses are an example of a cost to the local community. The costs of accidents, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and noise pollution are also borne by wider society, as they result in e.g. poor health and wellbeing.

This is even more true in cities where road space is limited and the impacts of poor air quality are amplified. 

Buses on the other hand can have many societal benefits, such as reduced congestion, increased mobility for all ages and abilities and improved air quality. The same is true for cycling and walking.

The charge on driving in the city will redress this imbalance and support buses and other forms of sustainable transport.