Petrol prices boost public transport

Rising prices at the petrol pumps are driving commuters out of cars and onto public transport - and bus and train providers should take advantage of the opportunity.

That is the recommendation from socially responsible investment experts at The Co-operative Investments.

The company said public transport operators have been offered an opportunity by the increasing numbers of people choosing public transport for environmental reasons.

This has been further boosted by record oil prices, proposed new congestion charge schemes in the UK to combat pollution, and the opening up of overseas franchises to private companies.

Mike Fox, CIS Sustainable Leaders trust fund manager at The Co-operative Investments said: “Commuters now have more than just environmental reasons to leave the car at home.

“The rising cost of filling up at the pumps is leading increasing numbers of people to choose public transport to save money and it is good news for providers.

“There are also some excellent opportunities for bus and train providers to grow their businesses as other countries follow the UK’s lead by opening up new overseas franchises for the first time.”

Mr Fox said Arriva and National Express are two companies that are particularly well-placed to benefit from increasing switches to public transport.

If congestion charging is extended to UK cities outside London, public transport could benefit from significant new investment through the Government’s Transport Innovation Fund (TIF).

Council chiefs in Manchester are currently considering introducing a congestion charge in the city centre and started a public consultation on the plans this week.

Government funding of £2.8bn for public transport improvements could be made available through the TIF.

Transport bosses have promised most improvements would be in place before the charge comes into effect in 2013, including extra trains and buses, better stations, and an extension of the Metrolink.

Kate Martin

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