Transport Problem: What Would It Take For You To Give Up Your Car?

Transport Problem: What Would It Take For You To Give Up Your Car?

Transport Problem: What Would It Take For You To Give Up Your Car?

According to academics, the UK has a serious transport problem; one that won’t be solved by adopting electric vehicles (EVs). Instead, they suggest we need to move away from car-ownership. But is it realistic?

The Transport Problem

A new report published by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) has suggested that EVs won’t address the nation’s transport woes. These, it suggests, consist of wasted parking space, urban sprawl and traffic jams. It claims the government needs to work towards realising ‘a good standard of living’ for people without cars. CREDs is a consortium of some 80 academics from across the UK. Prof Jillian Anable, who co-authored the report, believes the government’s current strategy is misguided. She said, “car use is a massive blind spot on government policy.” She added, “for many years ministers have adopted the principle of trying to meet demand by increasing road space. They need to reduce demand instead.”

Reducing Demand

The academics at CREDs acknowledge and accept that car ownership will always be necessary for some people; such as those in the countryside or isolated communities. They believe, however, that trends amongst young people offer a source of inspiration for the nation as a whole. In cities, they’re using public transport, walking, cycling and cab services to get around instead.  The report suggests this has the effect of reducing obesity, encouraging active lifestyles, improving sociability and freeing up space for housing and gardens due to a reduced parking requirement. As Prof Anable explained, “it is a happy accident that car ownership is static in every age group except the over-60s. The government should build on that.”

But Is There An Alternative?

On the surface, the report’s suggestions sound positive and plausible. It recognises that private vehicles are stationary for a staggering 98% of their lives; not to mention how expensive they often are. Anable even claimed, “often once people start to live without a car they wonder why they wanted one in the first place – a car is so much hassle.” She suggested the government should invest in alternative transport wherever possible, that electric vehicles wouldn’t address the transport problem and that new homes should be built with new methods in mind. But it does raise questions about viability…


The report is not the first to notice new trends in urban centres, especially London. In increasingly large cities, where the cost of living is already high, people are moving away from car-ownership. Public transport and new mobility options (like Uber) have rendered them unnecessary. Unfortunately, these trends don’t have much relevance for the tens of millions of people who live in suburbs or the countryside. Car ownership remains hugely important in terms of securing (and retaining work) and accessing vital services. This seems unlikely to change anytime soon. In addition, the fact that so many of us stick with car-ownership despite the costs and challenges is a testament to their enduring relevance, utility and attraction. Whilst academics continue to roll out report after report on transport options in London and other cities, there’s arguably yet to be any relevant to car-owners outside of them.

There’s a reason for this. There’s arguably no practical alternative to car ownership without a radical overhaul of the nation’s society and economy.

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