Examination of Witness

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 23rd February 2012.

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Anthony Smith: Personally, I would need a bit of convincing that it was going to change people’s travel habits. We once did a bit of work about passengers and the environment. It was the shortest session of focus groups I have done in my life. It was quite embarrassing; they lasted about 10 minutes and then people got into the sandwiches straightaway. The view very much was that public transport is green. That is it. There was nothing else to say particularly, because compared with other modes, it is green. People do not know whether they are on an electric or diesel train by and large; they do not have a clue. The sense is that it is green. The way all of us make travel choices is based on cost and convenience by and large.

There is a small number of people for whom green issues are a key factor. That is great, that is up to them. For the vast majority of people, when you look at how people travel, it is the interrelationship between cost  and convenience, and people trade those two things, often very subtly, about which train station they drive to, where they park in the car park, where they stand. There are very subtle decisions that people make to speed themselves up. I am fundamentally to be convinced that the green argument has really arrived in terms of travel. That is certainly in terms of rail and bus. As regards air, I think it is even more difficult to say.