New government transport forecasts from the Department for Transport underlined the essential need for a well maintained road network as more and more journeys are predicted to be made by car rather than by bus or rail.

The DfT forecasts of journeys and modes of transport between 2015 and 2040 predicted bus journeys to decline by 24 per cent and rail journeys to fall by 1 per cent. The number of journeys taken by car is predicted to increase by 11 per cent.  It is thought that a decline in the cost of driving combined with rises in bus and rail fares are resulting in people using the car as an alternative to public transport despite increasing levels of road congestion and expensive upgrades of the rail network.

The DfT forecasts were in response to a parliamentary question for an estimate of the number and type of trips from 2015 to 2040.

“The fact is that journeys by car remain the most popular and most convenient way to travel. This underlines the need for real and meaningful investment in the maintenance of the road network,” said Howard Robinson, Chief Executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

Robinson pointed that out that there is a £12 billion backlog of pothole repairs and queried whether the £6 billion funding for local road maintenance between 2015 – 2021  is adequate as over the same six year period motorists will have paid, at current taxation levels, £237.144 billion in fuel tax, fuel VAT, Vehicle Excise Duty and motorist Insurance Premium Tax.

Robinson continued: “The forecasts of increased car use demonstrate the importance of a well-maintained road network. Unfortunately, the government is unable to recognise this simple fact and provide the required levels of investment despite the very significant disparity between what it receives in motorist taxation and what is spent on road maintenance.”