Scots drivers spend £53 more a month on fuel in 8 years
THE impact of soaring fuel prices on Scottish drivers has been laid bare in official figures which show they have spent two-thirds more on filling up in the space of eight years.
Average monthly fuel spending jumped from £78 in 2003 to £131 last year, according to the Scottish Household Survey.
Petrol and diesel prices reached new records of 137p and 143p a litre in May last year, compared to 76p and 78p in May 2003.
One in three households reported spending more than £150 a month on fuel last year – more than double the proportion in 2005.
The extra cost of motoring was accompanied by a fall in traffic north of the Border for the fourth year in a row, to 43.4 billion vehicle kilometres, down from a peak of 44.7 billion in 2007.
However, there remained little sign of commuters switching from their cars to buses and trains, despite ministers claiming record satisfaction with public transport.
Although there were small increases in bus and rail commuting last year – returning them to 2009 levels – the report said the “little change” trend of recent years had continued. Two thirds of commuters travelled by car, 13 per cent walked, 12 per cent went by bus, 4 per cent by train and 2 per cent cycled – the lowest for four years.
The survey found car drivers were the least likely to switch to another form of transport – only 4 per cent of them last year. Reasons for not changing included lack of direct routes and extra journey times.
In addition, 60 per cent of people drove at least once a week, unchanged since 2003.
Despite this, more than three in four people questioned were satisfied with public transport and 85 per cent found it convenient.
A total of 55 per cent of the over-60s with free bus travel passes used them at least once a month, but nearly one third had not used their pass.
Experts said the travel trends were likely to continue. David Gray, professor of transport policy at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, said: “Without economic growth and with rising fuel prices, traffic will continue to fall for the foreseeable future, while satisfaction with public transport has yet to make much difference to commuting habits.
“That might be because some local authorities are reluctant to manage demand for car use, while bus services in some areas arguably better serve concessionary fare journey makers rather than commuters.”
Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said the car remained king despite the convenience of public transport. He said: “This means the economy will continue to suffer as income that could have been spent on goods and services is used instead to keep us mobile.
“Politicians hoping to kick-start the economy through investment in public transport are going to have to work extra hard to convince sceptical Scots that it is money well spent.”
Transport minister Keith Brown said: “Strong transport infrastructure is the backbone of any society and a good public transport system is vital to Scotland’s success. So it is very encouraging news that so many people are satisfied with the service being provided here and I thank those working in the service who have gone the extra mile for their passengers.”
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