Transport: An Explanation of The Modern Tragedy

Summary: Double the cost of petrol


Transport is the area of our lives where we can make changes for the least cost to yield the highest returns. The evidence of transport cost is so overwhelming that the very recording of its extent means it is easy to get lost under the weight of facts and data. It is much easier to comprehend “Child brutally murdered by gay internet sex paedo terror monster vicar” than “In 1996, of 101 accidental deaths of children between the age of 5 and 9, an estimated 46% were not on a highway”. Bored yet? Especially for you I will headline each chapter in less than ten words just below the heading (see above). Trust me, I’m a DJ.

Before we go any further, ask yourself

“Am I a good person?”

If the answer is “Yes” or at least “Well I try to be” this is a must read book. If the answer is “no”, ask yourself

“Well do I want to make a profit for at least myself and perhaps my family?”

If the answer is “yes”, there is a very strong probability that this book will illustrate how that, with very little effort, that objective might be achieved. If the answer is “no” to both questions I’m afraid there is nothing here for you, but you might want to contact a psycho-analyst.

This book will probably not make very comfortable reading, as it contains pain, suffering, tremendous social injustice, frustrating stupidity, corruption and waste. Among the lead characters are some of the most ruthless exploiters of humanity, the most cringing jobsworths, woefully inadequate and sycophantic do-gooders and politicians. The writing of it has reduced me to apoplexy, yet, if I ever complete it, at least I can say I tried what I thought was best, which I suppose, is all that is possible.

For the sake of rationality I should be trying to illustrate some home truths to the weak, self-centred, myopic, illogical nutters out there, but there are not many of you, therefore I see no profit in publishing for them, and probably could not affect ‘em if I did. The majority of people who see this will be inherently decent folk who understand that some form of co-operation is critical for the function of societal or individual benefit, therefore I dedicate it to you – all you fantastic folk who for too long have been hoodwinked (Yes YOU and I have been subject to the most blatant yet convincing lies for all of our lives) into believing that a transport system which most obviously fails in almost every aspect of ethical and economic rationality is somehow acceptable or even desirable. We have no end of sources telling us how good transport is (turn on your telly, look at the billboards or see where the boss parks at work, listen to your conversations, listen to the conversations of others), so for the sake of balance and for your benefit, my purpose is to tell you the truth.

Chapter 1: How ‘bad’ is transport?

Summary: Motorised Transport is too cheap

From an economic and moral perspective transport at the beginning of the 21st century is arguably the aspect of human behaviour which causes the greatest damage for the least profit. The remaining part of this chapter will deal with transport costs. (Table 1.1). At this stage it is important to differentiate between ‘Internal’ Costs (i.e. those which are paid for by the beneficiary of purchase, for example petrol) and ‘External’ costs (i.e. those which are not wholly paid for by the beneficiary of the commodity, for example road building). Further delineation must be made between Cash Costs (e.g. Petrol and road building) and ‘kind’ (non cash) costs (e.g. some forms of discomfort or constraint).

'Internal' Costs'External' Costs
  • Fuel
  • Purchase
  • Vehicle Excise Duty
  • Maintainence
  • Insurance
  • Operating
  • Accidents
  • Noise
  • Capital
  • Air Pollution
  • Opportunity (loss)
  • Contagion
  • Vibration
  • Climate Change
  • Utility
  • Blight
  • Severance
  • Crime
  • Visual Intrusion
  • Administration
  • Downstream processes
  • Upstream processes
  • Building & maintenance
  • Historical
  • Urban Effects
  • Land Take
  • Nature
  • 'Kind'
  • Behavioural modification
  • Congestion
  • Stress
  • Time
  • Health
  • Training
  • Accidents
  • Crime
  • Table 1.1 Some Transport Costs

    The easiest way to deal with low probability disaster is to ignore it and pretend it will never happen. Whilst conceding we might get hit by a dangerous object from outer space, the chances are, I am lead to believe, very slim. I am still glad that the Near Earth Asteroid project seems to be on target for spotting all the real big muthas out there by 2008.

    The chances, dear Earthling, of you or me as individuals of getting killed in a motor ‘accident’ today are equally quite small, (about one in one and a half million), so you can be forgiven for not paying attention to motor accidents. Unfortunately, however, the road kill problem will not go away. Though the chances of death today are slim, you have a better than one in six chance of being killed or seriously injured in a motor car accident in your 75 year lifetime. Then again, you have an 83% chance of not suffering a major injury, but: are there five other people in this world that you love? Better get an order in for the bouquet now. Pay attention, absorb and regurgitate – Transport kills big time.


    Transport is bad – offensively bad. You don’t believe me? OK, I’ll offend some of you. In terms of death, injury and the systematic eradication of specific members of society it is as bad as or worse than the holocaust of the Second World War. Before you slam this book shut and write the Daily Mail a letter telling me what a bad man I am (I try not to be), please, look at how the figures stack up.

    The Concise Oxford Dictionary definition of holocaust includes “wholesale sacrifice or destruction"

    On typing "million people died in the holocaust" into the Google advance search engine, of the first ten links, 6 of them indicate 6 million died in The Holocaust. Whilst conceding this may not be accurate it is nevertheless a widely accepted figure.

    What is indisputable is that the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate 1,260,000 people per year die in road traffic 'accidents' You don’t have to be a genius to work out that this extrapolates to nearly nine million over 7 years – a rate 50% higher than the previous genocide.

    What about targeting ‘specific members of society’? In the United Kingdom we see approximately one third of the road kill inflicted upon cyclists and pedestrians, yet "In developing countries a far higher proportion of road deaths occurs among vulnerable users" – is that specific enough? (Fact: whilst racial groups have a demonstrable equality with all other humans a non motorised journeyman is better than a car driver, at least in terms of societal benefit). Another third are passengers, largely innocent victims, and a substantial portion of the remaining car drivers are not guilty of anything than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, when perhaps some oncoming Jeremy Clarkson fan has chosen to take a bend too quickly or the last speed hump tore out the brake pipes.

    Yes, I concede that the WWII holocaust was very different, in that the modern one has very few, perhaps no overt and active perpetrators, but that draws another communality – in that huge portions of the population are clearly aware of what is happening, but turn the other way, ignoring the fact and permitting continued destruction. A German citizen witnessing the smoke rising from Treblinka, Belsen or Auschwitz in the 1940s would have been risking perhaps too much by paying attention. What is our excuse?

    This modern execution is very much more dispersed over area – but that is absolutely no reason to tolerate it. OK, I will concede that some motorised journeys are necessary, but look around and analyse – how many vehicles driving past your house are rushing critically injured people to hospital or delivering something which can’t be carried by hand, or at least delivered with other goods sharing similar starts and destinations? Not many. Forget, for the time being, the unavoidable and necessary journeys, just think about the frivolous, recreational, ultimately pointless or just plain lazy. Perhaps three quarters.

    This horrifying analogy is precisely that; horrifying because of its accuracy as well as its offence to the sensibilities of those who have suffered. I apologise for both, but it is not my fault.

    I haven’t finished with death yet. The Grim Reaper doesn’t go away that easily. Think about the fact that in 2004, a not untypical year, road kill was five times greater than death through warfare. In George Bush’s ‘War against Terror’ precisely 0 people have been killed in the United States through terrorism in the three years since 9/11 – Nice work George, apart from the fact that not many died before, and 125,000 have died on American Roads. Yes, the USA enjoys a 9/11 every three and a half weeks – even little ol’ England has an annual human road kill far in excess of the greatest terrorist atrocity ever perpetrated.

    If this sentence, just one in a book of eighty thousand words, is eighty nine words long (I will try and string it out) and you read at the English American average of two hundred and forty words per minute, there is a better than even chance that whilst you are reading it someone, somewhere will probably have just been the victim of a very real road kill whilst their mothers fathers, friends and family are maybe unaware of the earth shattering news which is about to befall them.

    In an average year in the United Kingdom cannabis kills nobody, ecstasy does for about seven, a staggering 12 men die of heart attacks whilst in the company of prostitutes, about 170 die of Aids, 250 meningitis, 250 cot deaths and about one child is abducted and killed by a stranger. Get this: we have three and a half thousand road deaths – so what the fuck are we worried about? You get mad at the word fuck but the word fuck never killed a soul (unlike the activity). So get real and understand – we have one big problem with road death. It doesn’t stop at the hospital morgue however, as cars kill in more ways than cutting down the hapless drunk who just happened to have staggered off the pavement in front of the poor couple who have only been driving back from that meal in the country. In the government white paper 'A New Deal for Transport' we are told that between 5 and 8 times the people who die in accidents die of respiratory illness caused by pollution, "the vast majority of which is created by motor transport". So get this – all the bloody carnage I have just been telling you about is perhaps 20% of the death rate to which the motor car makes a direct and critical contribution. The crazy thing is that when discussing the dangers to health of motoring, the doctors are more worried about something else. The medical consensus is that the ill-health caused by sedentary life style bought about by private motor cars to be the greatest threat to life. According to the World Health Organisation "overall physical inactivity was estimated to cause 1.9 million deaths” per year.

    To break from the narrative, this table 1.2 indicates the big killers according to the WHO

    Cause of death 1999 Fatalities (Millions)
    Ischaemic heart disease 6,894
    Cerebrovascular disease 5,101
    Lower respiratory infections 3,866
    HIV/AIDS 2,943
    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 2,523
    Perinatal conditions 2,439
    Diarrhoeal diseases 2,124
    Tuberculosis 1,660
    Road traffic accidents 1,260
    Table 1.2 Major causes of death

    Every time someone dies an attempt is made by the World Health Organisation to ascribe cause. Many of the above might be labelled ‘old age’, but some portion of the top three killers in the world might be put down to the (ab)use of private motorised transport. Throughout the entire list (not shown in full here), many fatalities may be influenced by the polluting, psychological and physical results of motor car use. It is significant to imagine how many of the 154,000 deaths in 1999 attributed to climate change might have been avoided had we not allowed travel demand to run rampant.

    As a kind of postscript to this morbid discussion, when comparing and contrasting ways to die “Road traffic injuries were estimated to account for over 1.2 million deaths worldwide in 2000, amounting to 2.3% of all deaths. Many such deaths occur in young adults, with significant loss of life, so the proportion of disease burden measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) is greater - about 2.8% of the total.” – Not only do cars kill, they target those least likely to expect or, dare I say, deserve it?

    Do not be deflected by minor issues such as the price of beans or whether cycle helmets should be made compulsory. We got bigger fish to fry… and don’t turn the gas on quite yet, because so far, in describing “How bad is transport” I have only discussed one specific. If you have not yet lost the will to live, thereby becoming yet another victim of the motor car (all be it of collateral damage or friendly fire, take your pick), it is my sad duty to inform you the scale of death described so far is mere bagatelle compared to the total bill foisted upon us by motorised transport, so settle down, put your mobile phone on rumble and prepare to be amazed.

    Non Fatal Injury

    Every year the Stationary Office in London churn out reams of statistics, and my favourites are the ones called ‘Transport Statistics’ and ‘Road Accidents Great Britain: The Casualty Report’ I am one sad and lonely individual, nevertheless allow me to save you the purchase price of more than £50 (the first £50 of billions which might be marked down as an ’external cost’ of transport to which I hope you allow me to draw to your attention). I will attempt to draw out the bits which relate to your pocket. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you will excuse the large use of UK examples, but needless to say, approximations can be found of similar type wherever the big guys get to drive the big cars (i.e. on land).

    When we make a judgement as to whether something is good or bad, we give it a value. “Good” and “bad” are two semantic values, but we can be more precise. We need to be more accurate as these two values are pretty broad, and can mean dissimilar things to assorted people, after all, my nine year old child might say ‘Christmas’ was good and wandering round a damp field picking up grains of corn with his mouth was ‘bad’, which I would hazard is a very different interpretation from that which might be voiced by an articulate turkey. Different strokes, for different folks. We are, for good or bad (there I go again) stuck with money, therefore I propose that we accept pounds sterling as the quantitative arbiter of value. It’s the best we have.

    Now let us accept that money which people put into the economy is ‘good’ – If I give you ten quid (A quid is a pound), you might think it was hunky dory as you could go and buy 40% of a rude letter from your bank telling you are 57 pence overdrawn. If I however mugged you of ten pounds (i.e. took ten pounds out of the economy) and burned it you would say that was bad, and probably add that I was either lunatic or in the KLF. The nice thing about money is that we have a scalar value, which enables us to do away with words like ‘a little bit’, ‘very’ and ‘incredibly’ and replace them with nice numbers such as 6, 28 or 496. Agreed that in one sense these are not perfect, but perhaps any fault in quantitative theory is that of calculation of value rather than its implementation. If you still disagree in ascribing a cash value to things I guess I’m stuck, so just humour me.

    The government agrees anyway, and in my favourite books, whether we like it or not, someone, somewhere has given us “The value of a statistical life” To quote the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions (DETR, now the Department for Transport or DfT) in the 1997 casualty report;

    “All things considered, any figure in the range £750,000 to £1,250,000 could be regarded as being broadly acceptable. This range clearly encompasses the current DETR value of about £850,000”

    We are also told that in 1997, the value of prevention of a serious injury was £102,880 and the value of prevention of a slight injury was £7,970

    Taking into account elapsed time, the range stated and many hours of patient and complex calculation involving mathematics beyond the ken and interest of the majority of readers, I have arrived at the decision to herewith use the following values for prevention of

    Serious Injury£100,000
    Slight Injury£10,000
    Table 1.3 Approximate costs of some accident results in the UK

    One can only marvel at the elegant convenience of these figures. All we need to know now is how many injuries were there?

    Once again the UK government supply the answers “There were 290,607 reported casualties on roads in Great Britain in 2003, 3,508 people were killed, 33,707 were seriously injured 253,392 were slightly injured.

    These figures are unlikely to be exaggerated: Some injuries take place in and around motor cars but not on public roads. An example of these would be at a local quarry, near my home town of Pontefract, Yorkshire, where one child was drowned when the car she was strapped into fell into the water and two years later another child was killed when a trailer carrying a jet ski reversed over him. (Remarkably another year later, after an all night party by the side of the lake, when a female passenger was killed in a crash on the way home from the quarry the headline in the Pontefract and Catleford Express read ‘Lake of Death claims third victim’). It has been long understood that there has been a level of under-reporting, especially for slight injuries, and some failure of accident recording by relevant authorities, but the latest statement indicates the gap in data may be much greater than previously imagined

    “Research conducted in the 1990s has shown that many non-fatal injury accidents are not reported to the police. In addition some casualties reported to the police are not recorded and the severity of injury tends to be underestimated. The combined effect of under-reporting, under-recording and misclassification suggests that there may be 2.76 times as many seriously injured casualties than are recorded in the national casualty figures and 1.70 slight casualties, according to TRL Report 173”

    Comparison of hospital and police casualty data: a national study by H F Simpson.

    For the sake of completion perhaps we should factor in the cost of non-injury accidents. Many of these are an ‘internal’ cost to the car driver (e.g. it is the car driver who pays for the wing mirror he breaks on his own car by trying to squeeze through to tight a gap. Some are external (e.g., he drives off without telling the driver of the parked car that the parked car’s wing mirror is also broken). There is considerable injury accident which is non human. Now me and my kids love hedgehogs and badgers and I would gladly accept any empirical research calculating the costs of this non human road kill, but that may have to wait for a later edition (see ‘Nature’). Needless to say these costs will be large, but for the sake of adopting a precautionary principle (I will always try not to exaggerate when exaggeration might lead to erroneous conclusions) I will not factor them into my calculations for this book.

    My dog Jayneway, a black Labrador cross was killed at the age of four by a hit and run driver. If you and your Kids have ever loved an animal there is no need for me to describe what we feel.

    Taking into account under reporting, under-recording, non-road injuries and deducting for appraisal pessimism and by dint of many more hours of patient and complex calculation involving mathematics beyond the ken and interest of the majority of readers, I have arrived at the decision to herewith use the following figures for UK Road Injury per year.

    Serious Injury35,000
    Slight Injury350,000
    Table 1.4 Approximate annual rates of some accident results in the UK

    One can only marvel at the elegant convenience of these figures. We can now calculate the approximate injury cost of road accidents in the UK, and can see that we have an approximate Death: Serious: Slight Injury ration of 1:10:100 and an approximate Death: Serious: Slight Injury cost ratio of 100:10:1, which if we assume to remain constant in different places we can now use to quickly calculate accident rates and costs world-wide. (Please – I know this may be not what my academic supervisors would call ‘robust methodology’, but neither do I. It is a rule of thumb which will tend to understate costs and rates at least in The West, and perhaps over-value life in The Developing World. These values are also an approximation of what we would pay to prevent an accident rather than real costs, but they are a reasonable approximation. And before you ask, it is not me who establishes the value of life in Sub-Saharan Africa. For the purposes of this book, I am happy to settle for a £million per person).

    So in Britain, in the early 21st century we have an approximate accident cost of  

    TypeNumber of InjuriesCost per InjuryTotal Injury Cost
    Table 1.5 Approximate annual personal injury transport accident costs in the UK

    And we can see that Death, Serious and Slight injury costs are approximately the same for each group over the given area. We can see that death, although more impactfull to the human psyche should be considered as only a minority interest in the study of road accident costs (albeit a large minority).

    What should interest the reader, especially to that reader who answered yes to the second question asked at the beginning (do you want to make a profit?) is what portion of accident costs are paid for by the public at large? In the UK at least, it would be most surprising to see an accident victim asking police, fire and ambulance or hospital services if they accepted American express, or if they would give a discount for cash. Admittedly a great portion of grief and suffering may fall upon the perpetrator of an accident, but much is also dispersed amongst friends and relations (The victim generally gets a pretty poor deal as well). As previously illustrated, many accident victims are to a large extent innocent and even in the calculation of that suffering endured by the party to blame for an accident, the cost is still a burden on the net economy. For the sake of this book, accident costs, until totally absorbed by insurance companies are an external cost, a cost to society at large rather than the individual.

    Before we leave accidents, to save the reader the trouble of calculating the world-wide costs, given the WHO’s estimate in excess of 1,250,000 deaths per year the world wide cost of road accident injury alone is about three thousand seven hundred and fifty billion pounds or over half a trillion dollars or Euros. All preventable. (Hell.. what’s a billion either way?)

    Other Costs:

    It is understandable that is something has been widely accepted it is often difficult to actually look upon it as a cost. If something is merely perhaps irritating it is more often than not dismissed as ‘just one of those things’. Personally being old and grumpy, these things actually get to me, and I want them to get to you. When you bend down to pick up an envelope which has IMPORTANT emblazoned across the top, and you just know it is going to invite you to get double glazing, but you open it anyway, then take it to the kitchen and put it in the bin, and eventually take your bin to the dustbin, the contents of which are collected by the garbage van which you pay for as a taxpayer, into a landfill where you used to go for walks as a kid before it was excavated for stone to build roads to carry the garbage, I want you to get really mad and write a letter stating:

    “You sent me a letter I didn’t ask for and quite obviously did not want. You have obliged me to deal with it. I have spent two minutes dealing with it, my time is worth £48 an hour, therefore you owe me £1.60 plus the £25 my bank tells me these letters are worth.”

    And if the person who started this chain of events doesn’t pay up, the ombudsman gets involved, and he charges them for his time, until they either pay up or are run out of town, their assets stripped and distributed amongst their creditors.

    Whether you agree with this course of action or not is immaterial for the time being. I am just trying to illustrate that even trivial things have value, which should be at least considered. The costs of transport are not trivial, but many of them are ignored through familiarity. For a fuller exploration of this subject a most excellent book “The True Costs of Road Transport” by David Maddison, is available. I can only hope that it becomes a set text for compulsory social studies, but I will first try to suggest some costs (and highlight the revenues) of transport.

    Costs can be broken up into four groups. The first is those costs which are sustained by the beneficiary and paid for in cash terms by him (or her) (Henceforward if I say him, I mean him or her). At typical case in point might be that the car driver quite often pays for his petrol. The second group are also sustained by the beneficiary of transport, but not paid for in cash, nevertheless estimates might be made of their value, for example any time spent travelling is a ‘cost’ to the traveller. The third and fourth groups are the ones which should be of greatest concern to the taxpayer, as these comprise the ‘freebies’ enjoyed by especially the private motor user, respectively those which cost money paid for directly by the public purse for the overt supply of transport, an easy example to assess being the cost of Road Building and Maintenance, and the fourth group those costs which fall upon society in general, but are paid for indirectly, probably the most prominent which might be air pollution. You may be able to think of more (don’t forget, triviality is not an issue here), but this list illustrates twenty eight costs of transport.

    Group 1: Mainly Internal Cash

    For the sake of brevity I assume that we all know about these costs very well.

    1. Operating

    With transport, specifically private motor transport in the United Kingdom we have operating costs for private motor cars such as petrol, Vehicle Excise Duty, maintenance, parking, congestion charge (new one that), car wash, fines, protection money from the kids in the car park etc etc. These all take money out of the pocket of what many motoring organisations and newspapers would call the beleaguered motorist and go straight into the pocket of either the private operator, local authority or, usually, the national government. In the UK about 75% of the cost of petrol is tax, so that weekly donation of £25 a week into the national economy must be a welcome boost to treasury funding. To give the reader an approximate idea of these costs, we are told that in 2001/2 there were 26.7 million vehicles paying 26.4 billion pounds in fuel and excise duty taxes. About £1000 per vehicle, The RAC claim “Road users currently pay £44 billion per year”

    2. Capital

    If one is going to use a vehicle, one might expect capital costs for the purchase of the vehicle. This can obviously fluctuate a great deal between a pair of roller skates and a Boeing 747, and the Automobile Association of great Britain give very different personal cash costs for buying and running a car than those actually experienced by your author, so perhaps calculations of these are perhaps best left to the purchaser. Some portion of purchase tax and Value added tax (17.5% in the UK in 2004), ensures society’s piece of the action, the rest going to the manufacturer, dealer, auctioneer, thief or whoever.

    In 2002-03 the average British family blew 15% of spending, over £59 per week on transport, the highest single expenditure item (Expenditure and Food Survey).

    Group 2: Mainly Internal Kind

    Perhaps the best way to illustrate this group of costs is to describe them as all those things us car drivers tend to whinge about which inconvenience us in other than strictly fiscal ways. The first and most obvious, on reflection, is:

    3. Time

    “Time is money” goes the old adage, and this is correct. We all perhaps value our time differently, nevertheless if asked would one rather drive into London at 8:30 AM or be instantaneously ‘beamed’ to the destination, it would not just be spirit of adventure seeking to explore a previously untried technology which might persuade our cadet to accept the latter. Much research has been conducted on the value of travel time; the currently accepted UK Government market value of one hour spent travelling in a car, during work time is £26.73. Commuting to and from work is £5.04 pence per hour, and other travel time is £4.46 per hour. (Incidentally, “The values for non-working time ('commuting' and 'other') spent waiting for public transport is two and a half times the 'commuting' and 'other' values and where walking and cycling is used as a means of inter-changing between modes of transport, the non-working values ('commuting' and 'other') of walking and cycling is twice the 'commuting' and 'other' values.

    4. Congestion

    May be cited by many drivers as the curse of modern society: and rightly so. Congestion costs to an individual are, in effect, an extension of time costs, and Maddison, amongst others, cites the costs of delays in traffic, (i.e. congestion) as being the major portion of the costs of road transport, albeit ‘a largely democratic one’. Whilst there may be a difference between the values of time being sat in a traffic jam and whizzing down the motorway, the previous figures for value of time are aggregate ones for all situations, and should be those considered.

    5. Health

    Accepting the risks of sitting in a car which is essentially itself sitting in a tunnel of pollution, we understand that there are certain direct health risks to travel. Hitting the windscreen after an impact is pretty unhealthy as well, but in terms of personal costs, in spite of the huge damage inflicted on society by other aspects of transport, most medical experts now agree; that perhaps the greatest danger posed by our current transport behaviour is that on the long term health of car users. “The habit of driving or riding in motor vehicles is associated with sedentary lifestyle, one of the two most important risk factors for non-communicable diseases and early mortality in western populations.” We are great sufficers, us humans; we ‘will cross that bridge when we come to it’, mañana mañana, vote for tax cuts now etc., and evidence that many of us do not give a toss about our long term personal health is apparent when we compare the dangers of smoking with its incidence. Being a stupid lemming doesn’t make the impact of hitting the ground less dangerous or expensive.

    Group 3: Mainly External Cash


    Central public administration of a transport system makes economic sense. For those who suggest we should privatise the lot, the simple question would be “which side of the road do we drive on?” (Think about it). Public Administration in the UK includes the Department for Transport (DfT, formerly DETR), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing agency, the Treasury, and those local authority departments responsible for transport and planning. Aspects of public administration include vehicle standards, police and emergency services, land control, public transport regulation, collection of taxes and distribution of subsidies and most obviously

    Building and Maintenance

    The degree of quality and length of, for instance, roads required may be a subject for debate; nevertheless we may accept that communal corridors are inherently practical, if only to prevent the wholesale haphazard destruction of our countryside by 4 x 4 vehicles playing point to point. The regional expenditure on roads in 2001/02 in Great Britain was just over £4.6 billion, including £1 billion on new build and just below £2 billion on repairs. Over £13 billion was spent in Great Britain by central and local government on transport in 2002/03

    8. Training and Education

    Apart from the actual application of administration, considerable public expenditure is required in terms of putting all those police, firemen, ambulance drivers, officers and council members through the required procedures enabling their mobility.

    We are given a total central and Local government expenditure on transport of just over £13 billion in the year 2002/03, of which 4.6 billion is spent directly on roads

    TSGB 2003

    Group 4: Mainly External Kind

    External costs are those external to the motorist. They are not external to society. They may even being external to our contemporary society, only returning to haunt or descendents, they may be a will o the wisp of a distant screech waking up the nervous sleeper, but equally may be as devastating as the Hit and Run of a ten year old.


    Have already been discussed. On a personal note, my grandmother, a nephew, several acquaintances and a beloved dog have all been costs which this author has had foisted upon him.

    Air Pollution

    For most pollutants, the main sources of emissions are from fossil-fuel combustion and vehicles. Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, lead, carbon monoxide, benzene, ozone, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium, arsenic, nickel and mercury are the twelve pollutants identified by the EEC. Considerable progress has been made in reducing the amounts of pollutants we pump into the atmosphere, but although in the UK the output of individual vehicles has generally reduced, this is offset by the growth in vehicle population. World wide the output of pollution from industry is reducing – from transport it is growing, The burning of petrol produces significant amounts of nine of the major pollutants identified, and no matter what some of our commentators say, they are still dangerous. Studies have now proven quite clearly that respiratory, physical and mental functions diminish with proximity to traffic.

    Lifetime exposure to particulate matter, (a harbinger of (8,500 UK Deaths per year) may reduce life expectancy by a year. Ground level ozone helps 12,500 UK citizens to their deaths each year. There is also no safe threshold for Sulphur Dioxide which brings forward 3,500 deaths per year in the UK.

    Nitrogen Oxides are acid gases and ozone pre-cursors and can affect human health and vegetation. Nitrogen dioxide is thought to have both acute and chronic effects on airways and lung function, particularly in people with asthma

    Carbon monoxide reduces the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen and deliver it to the tissues. A rise in CO concentration of 10 parts per million, (not untypical in a city) coincides with an increase of about 10% of all cause mortality – what a coincidence.

    Air pollution has local, regional, national and trans-national effects costs. In terms of physiology, erosion, general environmental quality we have areas of grave concern.

    Needless to say, to ice the cake of this litany of morbidity and mortality, the Department of Health admit “Overall impacts may be substantially greater than those we have as yet been able to quantify”

    Behavioural modification

    Now this is a tough one to cost. A long time ago in the United Kingdom, as children, we were exhorted by ‘Tufty Fluffytail’ a Red Squirrel, to “look right, look left, and look right again before crossing the road”. Fat lot of good it did him. Well fashions come and go, but old habits die hard. Consider this neat, albeit apparently esoteric external cost of motoring. If you really think that glancing both ways is a costless exercise, fine. – Now do it a thousand times! See what I mean.

    Despite the chances of a child being abducted being about the same as they were 48, 55 or 73 years ago, kids just don’t walk or bike to school much anymore. Admittedly, people have more fear, and increasing vehicle ownership tempts laziness on behalf of children with willing parents, but the most logical reason to drive a child to school is that your child is safer from other vehicles. Is this an example of a self replicating behavioural modification? One up to the motor car industry then.

    That people value space where there are no cars is manifest. People chose to walk by preference, not alongside busy highways, but will travel miles and even take holidays to stride out in their rural idyll, be it the Pennine Way, The Cornish Coastal Path or Hyde Park in the centre of London. No matter what the petty minded small town hick store owners say about allowing traffic up to their shop door (they are such morons, by definition it means only one car can visit at a time), the clever money for retailers is spent in those more sophisticated car-free town centres and more specifically in the pedestrianised areas. (Next time you are in a town centre with some paved area, have a look where Barclays, Marks and Spencer and WH Smiths have their branches). When an out of town shopping centre is developed, such as Medowhall, Bluewater, or the Gateshead Metro Centre, the question of motor car access is simple. You drive to outside of the edges and then walk in safety (once you are out of the car park). We have local shopping mall Freeport, located adjacent to the M62 two miles north of Pontefract (my town) that is worthy of Papal attention. Pontefract is amply supplied with disabled parking, where the great hordes of afflicted disabled badge holders might park their people carriers (supplied by mobility) and collect their pensions. They drive down to Freeport and Lo! Behold a miracle – they can walk, they can see, Praise God! O Happy Day. A healing shrine with peripheral parking. (At this stage might I hasten to point out that I have a genuine desire to help the ten per cent of badge holders who have genuine problems, and in no way wish to bracket them with those people I see parking in Pontefract prior to a pub crawl or such like, with either no apparent disability, or using a badged car that belongs to a relation).

    Take a walk and make yourself aware of all those little things you do as part of a subconscious accounting for motor traffic. You walk on pavements, under subways and over bridges. You press buttons and wait at Pelican crossings, you walk on the outside of your children or even put them on ridiculous little dog leads. Some of you even sometimes allow your children the ignominy of having to wait in a car park to walk to school in some ridiculous conga, sending the clear signal that walking is dangerous, not to be done alone and requiring a fluorescent jerkin. You are waiting to cross the road, someone slows down and allows you across, you smile, wave and mouth the word thanks and break into a little trot, filled with genuine and understandable gratitude at this charitable act but why? Because that kind driver has deigned not to kill you!

    The times when we step out of the house and what we do when we are outside are governed to a degree by other peoples transport behaviour. Ask yourself what price you would pay to have no other cars on the road on your way to work, or a rock solid guarantee that you would never be struck by one no matter how cavalier your behaviour. My children on their 1.5 kilometre walk to school have to stop 15 times and at one junction have to wait as long as six minutes to cross. Crikey, you can drive across the United States without that many enforced delays; it’s no wonder people drive their kids all over.


    Transport provision may devalue land and property prices. Yes, I agree, being a couple of miles from a motorway, a few hundred yards from a station or near a bus stop may be a selling point for a house, but do you really want a dual carriageway at the bottom of your garden, or aircraft dropping frozen turds through your roof as they fly over your house while stacking up to land? Remarkably even proposed building of transport infrastructure can lead to speculation and what is called ‘Planning blight’, when residents get wind of a new road and get out while the getting’s good. Try starting up a “residents for a bye pass adjacent to our property” campaign. You can call yourself IMBYs (In my Back Yards).

    Climate Change

    First things first: Climate change is happening, and we, humanity, are to blame. That’s a full stop just there. Period. End of story. No argument.

    Now you may have thought that there was some debate about Climate Change, specifically the raising of temperatures world wide. You would have been correct, but the debate has been driven on one side by the vast, vast majority of scientific opinion, the other side by groups of either nutters, attention seekers, the genuinely ignorant or vested interests. This latter side are given credence for several reasons, but mainly because they are there. Let me draw your attention to a piece of what is rapidly becoming ancient history. In 1994, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change issued the following statement:

    “The atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, and among them, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), have grown significantly since pre­industrial times (about 1750 A.D.): CO2 from about 280 to almost 360 ppmv (parts per million by volume), CH4 from 700 to 1720 ppbv (parts per billion by volume) and N2O from about 275 to about 310 ppbv. These trends can be attributed largely to human activities, mostly fossil ­fuel use, land­use change and agriculture. Concentrations of other anthropogenic greenhouse gases have also increased. An increase of greenhouse gas concentrations leads on average to an additional warming of the atmosphere and the Earth's surface. Many greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere - and affect climate - for a long time”

    OK, this is not the language I would use, but then I am not one of the nearly one thousand international scientists, chosen by the United Nations on the basis of their record and integrity to co-operate in answering the critical questions which face our future. When the IPCC say

    “The balance of evidence, from changes in global mean surface air temperature and from changes in geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of atmospheric temperature, suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”

    It carries much the same weight as

    “The balance of evidence, from analysis of reflectivity and wavelength in the visible spectrum and from systematic quantification of viewer’s opinions, suggests that Big Bird is Yellow”.

    So please, on this issue, I will brook no argument. Just because George Bush says it isn’t so is not evidence for proving that is the case.

    What does transport contribute to climate change? Well several gases induce general warming, some of them hang around for more or less, some of them have varying effects, but the main concern which I will illustrate is Carbon Dioxide, or CO2.

    Natural variations in CO2 during the past 11,000 years have been small (about 20 ppm), but we have seen, in the last two and a half centuries, a rapid rise, of nearly 100 ppm. That is scary, but not as frightening of the prospect of a total 700 ppm by the year 2100, a rise 41 times greater than the best established estimates of natural fluctuations (some people born today will be alive to suffer).

    What portion of our CO2 emissions have and will emanate from transport? DefRA give the following chart

    This indicates that, although total CO2 production in the UK is diminishing, transport is the one sector where it is growing, seeing a doubling in the last 30 years, and making the transport sector soon to be the UK’s major polluter. Transport is, in an international sense, not yet the major source of CO2 world-wide, as many manufacturing industries still carry out their activities in areas with less vigorous emissions control, but it is predicted that by 2015, it will be the major contributor, in a net rising emissions scenario. Air travel & private motoring are growing, and there is no silver bullet which will see the abandonment of fossil fuels on any credible horizon. Air fuel is not taxed, and no climate levy is placed on private motoring, therefore we have a market constrained by the availability of a stolen product – i.e. the very real ability to impose a burden on (or steal from) other members of society by inducing climate change.

    Congestion (2)

    You may think it is a bit rich placing congestion twice on this list, but it is important to understand that this aspect carries distinct, and major, both internal and external costs. There will be a direct mathematical relationship which it is important to imagine. A single pedestrian moving at 3 miles an hour through London will impose little congestion costs on others. He may be lucky enough to have few costs imposed on himself, but then again, he will be confined; perhaps to a busy pavement and road crossings, will suffer pollution from other congested traffic and all the other negative external costs of traffic that become exacerbated through congestion. A small car in turn will however cause some congestion. If, for example, a small car delays (and this is purely theoretical) every car behind itself by 1 second, and there are 3,600 cars which eventually follow him in to town, it is easy to see that their will be a neat one hour time loss to society in general Add to this the delays to all vehicles which are then delayed because they are compelled to give way on side roads and the figure will be greater (n.b. the busiest roads average nearly 7,000 vehicles per hour over the entire 24 hour period). Now I do not know by what factor vehicle size is proportionate to external congestion costs, but we are very familiar with the Lorry, Caravan or tractor which imposes the greater delays on those following them. The bigger the vehicle, the greater the congestion costs it imposes upon others.

    Congestion does have one benefit for me, in that it has enabled me to illustrate how precise fiscal measures can be in dealing with external costs, but how that concept is not initially understood by the general public. For thirty years Singapore has had a variable charge for vehicles using the city at peak times. This was intended to be a congestion reducing and revenue raising measure and hey, guess what? It reduces congestion and raises revenue! Oslo likewise pioneered a congestion charge in Scandinavia and – it worked. The first city in Britain to place an entry charge into its centre was Durham, and the major criticism has been that it has worked too well in reducing congestion and does not raise the predicted revenue.

    On Monday, 17th February, 2003, Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London introduced a five pound charge to bring a vehicle into London. The media coverage was largely hostile, with for example five different national newspapers on that morning using such terms (with reference to the charge) as: "Stupid and unworkable", "Chaotic", "Crazy plan", "Unable to cope" and "Bring about recession".

    Certain papers, for example the London Evening Standard waged an incessant war of words against the Mayor’s plans. Public opinion was largely hostile and motoring organisations objected. The BBC drafted in the experts, Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond Films) illustrated how young actresses and nurses would be bankrupt by the charges. The Sun issued false number plates to encourage civil disobedience. On the first few days of the charge much to the consternation of the critics, there was a reduction in traffic, and that which remained moved faster. Worse still the general public, whether motorised, pedestrian or cyclist seemed to generally appreciate the difference. Even then the critics cited the school holidays as being the reason for reduction, but the fact is that the charge was a huge success, saving the economy millions in lost time, generating (albeit a less than expected) income for London, not significantly increasing peripheral traffic, improving the environment, and endearing ‘Red Ken’ to such an extent to the general public that the Labour Party broke their own rules to let him back in.

    It is common business practice that if demand exceeds supply only two options exists for a rational supplier. Given that in this particular case of an overcrowded traffic system it is practically impossible to increase supply (road space) only the second option, i.e. raising the price of the good (congestion charge) remains an option for the practical business. What I am trying to illustrate here is: that though charging for something which imposes a cost on others may be anathema, especially if it has commonly been regarded as free, not only does it make economic sense, it will probably gain long term general approval.

    I digress – back to the list


    Two aspects of degree might be considered in terms of transport’s function and contagion.

    On the one hand we have the ongoing distribution of pathogens via the transport system. Society is so integrated that given the appropriate incubation conditions the words epidemic and pandemic (i.e. world-wide) are practically interchangeable. Aids could not have spread to such an extent without the enabling of promiscuous behaviour over distances greater than that transcended by gossip, from the use of prostitutes in the third world to the US gay community’s predilection with island holiday destinations in the Caribbean.

    On the other hand (and this is the scary bit), we must consider the logical prospect of a new disease being enabled to spread quickly, or a previously dormant one re-emerging. For example in the eighteenth century, the Pacific Islands had largely escaped the ravages of Smallpox (Variola) as it took more than forty days for any sailing ship to reach them. Perhaps smallpox up to this time had been the greatest boon to European Colonialism, in that wherever we went, we just breathed on ‘em and they fell in droves. The introduction of steam packets from the East Indies reduced journey times from infected areas to the South Sea Islands, and by the mid nineteenth century, if our syphilis or alcohol hadn’t got them, smallpox did. Imagine if such an infection were re-introduced, to a ‘virgin’, vulnerable population of six billion, each individual separated only by a maximum six degrees of separation. If that six degrees of separation was over 40 days action might be taken. But it is not. If I walk through my town, I am, at most, a few days away from George W Bush himself.

    The ongoing costs of contagion via the contemporary transport system are worthy of study. The potential costs are maybe to horrifying to contemplate


    Is it the transport system, or the perpetrators who should be regarded as the drivers of crime? I suppose that is a bit like the gun debate, should we allow unrestricted access to guns because ‘guns don’t kill people, rappers do’? Probably a bit of both.

    I remember listening to some bobby (a policeman in the UK) explaining that crime had gone up in his hometown of Dundee since a Motorway, the M90 had been opened. Further anecdotal observation would suggest that Hartshead Moore services, on the M62 between Manchester and Leeds and their respective conurbations is a car boot sale for trans-Pennine criminals. Perhaps films somewhat glamorise crime but I am pretty sure that evil genius master criminals are not drawn to using ‘getaway pogo sticks’ when exiting the scene of their latest heist. So the police need cars to catch criminals in cars. Then faster cars to catch faster cars. And now helicopters and patrol boats. What were the twin towers and Madrid bombings if not crimes greatly facilitated by our transport culture?

    I don’t know the costs, but, COME ON, somebody should start doing some serious calculation here.

    Downstream processes

    There are some aspects of transport costs which are somewhat removed from the bumper of a car or the exhaust from a jet engine. Those systems required to prop up our transport demand will be discussed under ‘upstream processes’, but once the dead have been scraped up there are as many ‘knock on’ effects of transport as one would care to shake a stick at. Who pays for the drains to take away water from the car wash? – The Taxpayer. Who pays for the landfill to dump all the rubbish which the scrap merchant cannot recycle? – The Taxpayer. Who pays for the prescription to buy the inhaler for the asthma sufferer? – We do. And on and on ad infinitum. Perhaps there will be downstream benefits as well, but these are often reflected in the price of a commodity. Who pays when the dust is discovered under the carpet. Not us – but our children might discover a hefty bill.

    Health (2)

    Once again a category has two fairly distinct internal and external aspects, the latter of which can also be split into sub sections. A major cost to the general public of motorised transport use are the health disadvantages bought about by the physical dangers involved, which have already been discussed in the first part of this chapter. We must still consider what costs may be incurred in suffering from and looking after those who suffer from, those afflictions brought about through lack of exercise. Hells Bells I really don’t want to dip my hand in my pocket to keep somebody on a ventilator machine who has spent his entire life making me and my kids look left and right, and left again! Why should I pay for some fat slob’s early retirement on grounds of ill health when perhaps I have strived manfully to maintain some semblance of physical decency? I’m sorry. I am racist, I am sexist, I am homophobic and I think religion is for nutcases, but I will try my darndest to understand my prejudices, confront them and deal with them through affirmative action and conscious logical decision making. But that does not involve bailing out people who have defied a lifetime of medical advice and made a career out of splashing me on rainy days, making my streets a no go area, waking me up at night, wasting my dog and very nearly killing me. Thirty times a day.


    These ‘costs’ which I am discussing are not exclusive to the twenty first century. They have been ongoing for at least 100 years in the case of motor cars and aviation, so some methodology should be established for assessing, just how much has the transport system burdened the public purse? Should there be some form of payment for sustainable transport users in regard to the costs they have previously had imposed upon them? Reparations are not an unknown concept in other aspects of historical wrongdoing. I might suggest that once again, were a case demonstrably provable, and the costs of collection did not exceed the costs of compensation, there is a good case for some reimbursement. Referring to the figures quoted of half a trillion dollars in 2002 in injury costs alone, this might be a large figure. It is, as I am trying to stress, a large problem.

    Land Take

    All property is theft. Agree or disagree, but why should land, which originally was an open access resource be commandeered for only 50% of the population? Even if the land was in private ownership, why should an idyllic view be spoiled without compensating the onlooker? Land has a multitude of purposes, and all things considered there may be a case for suggesting that a Site of Special Scientific Interest has a greater long-term utility as a repository for rare species for everybody than an enabling factor for some people to tow their caravans to Portsmouth. I understand this may sound glib, I myself have driven through the cutting in Twyford Down, and glanced to the west to see the abandoned railway, but would my family’s holiday experience have been any less rich without the M3? Would the people of Winchester need that bye pass if it wasn’t for this crazy race to move people inordinate distances. Would I have enjoyed a visit to Winchester? Would Winchester have enjoyed a visit by me, after all, Winchester is not drastically different from those cities in Northern France which were my destination, and if it takes me 15 hours to get to Winchester, it becomes just as ‘exotic’.


    The Royal Commission on environmental pollution, in their 1994 report state:

    “There is no evidence...that the problem of transport noise is diminishing, and some suggestion that people are becoming more sensitive to it.” and

    “Exposure to transport noise in the UK remains a serious problem”

    Ten years ago their most pessimistic estimates placed the cost of transport noise and vibration as being the about the same as the costs of accidents. Even the most optimistic scenario concluded that noise damage was at least £1 billion in 1994/95. Car engines are quieter, granted, but the majority of transport noise is generated by tyres on roads – strange but true when you actually go outside and listen. In their work Sharp & Jennings (1976) Transport and the Environment estimate that traffic noise costs consisted an amazing 11% of GDP.

    It is very easy to ignore traffic noise. It is generally ubiquitous in most areas, I live over a mile away from the A1, yet when I am out walking in the fields in the morning I want to put a great brick wall right across it and have some peace. Noise contributes to diminishing house values, can be annoying or worse, stress inducing. Whilst one man’s meat is another man’s mustard, even if one doesn’t feel that noise from transport is that much of a problem, one must concede that many suffer because of it.

    Opportunity (loss)

    In 1896, Arthur Linton, a cyclist became the first sportsman allegedly to die as a result of taking drugs. The debate still rages as to whether or not the use of performance enhancing or recreational drugs should be legitimised. That they might give respectively an advantage or pleasure to the user is accepted (This seems to be born out by the East German results in the Olympics prior to unification). That they may be expensive is also the case. That they may be dangerous is evidenced. Most importantly, whether morally right or wrong, in the case of non users of performance enhancing drugs there is an automatic disadvantage which any right minded person would call unfair. It is overwhelmingly obvious that the only differences between drugs and cars is that the latter are legal (sometime) and that drugs rarely, in themselves, damage non-users. (or contribute any of the many disbenefits outlined herein upon society)

    Now the ability to take advantage of rapid transport becomes a clear advantage, in not only the employment market, but in purchase, location, schools and every other aspect of life which demands some movement. Especially in the case of employment this places, for instance, the non car owner at a huge disadvantage. We should hardly be subsidising the already advantaged.


    Several of the concepts outlined in this chapter, though not automatically considered in assessing the damages done by transport are, nevertheless, well known, relatively easy to quantify and easy to understand (e.g. accidents). My nomination for “the most neglected aspect of transport damages” would be severance. If I could use a personal example, my mother chose to retire too a cottage just 5 km away from my home. If I take my family to see her, we often drive, but I prefer to cycle. Nevertheless, because of the A1 which crosses our route I am left with a decision. Do I go the straight route and risk crossing the main road (Which is a terrifying experience with children) or take a two kilometre detour, along slightly busier roads and incorporate a significant hill? Or do I just say screw it, I can’t be bothered?

    Severance is the aspect of transport which results in infrastructure and traffic either persuading of forcing other individual to perceive destinations as being more remote, therefore rendering them less accessible. It is an aspect of road building which is in fact self defeating, as the whole raison d etre of roads is to improve access.

    In Britain we have an obsession with street furmiture, specifically fences. In every town we have these barriers to the movement of pedestrians already constrained by the major barriers of roads. Railways too carry these costs, splitting communities by their presence, and then further alienating pedestrians with a programme of fencing worthy of a gulag. Basically, when everything is said and done, at the end of the day, the fact is, that if you have to walk round a pile of dog do, there is a severance cost, albeit a small one, let alone a six lane, dual hard shoulder, 15 ‘ wide central reservation and 50 ‘ embankment motorway where pedestrian access is illegal (At least the dog do goes away after a few people have trodden in it). It is critical to gauge these ongoing and very real costs if a true assessment is to be made of the bottom line of our transport behaviour and building.


    Like every other aspect of cost where, so far, I have used anecdotal examples, I can state with confidence that these are replicated in thousands of locations and constantly throughout time. I struggle to comprehend, however, how anybody could feel worse about transport than me, and yet they probably do. I am literally sitting down each morning to write this book because I feel I am going to have a heart attack or something. Yes I know this is probably ridiculous, but it is nevertheless a real fear to me. And why should I worry? Hello – have you been reading! – of course you have, thanks. It is as if I have a cure for a terrible disease, which is demonstrably provable, works in applied and theoretical situations yet the vast majority of politicians say “mm we’re sorry but we are going to ignore all the empirical research and continue to pay the general public to spread the disease and make them hostage to it”. When Gordon Brown, the British Chancellor removed the fuel duty escalator, he was in effect caving in to a small, vociferous and antisocial group, what the Guardian called “Fat Blokes for Cheap Petrol”. I remember listening to a bloke called Zog Zeigler, invited by the BBC as an ‘expert’ on motoring because he was a presenter for a programme called ‘Top Gear’ One of his comments was something along the lines of “A Modern car creates no more pollution on a return trip from London to Edinburgh than a drop of oil on a garage floor!(My exclamation mark). My God - When a journalist is prepared to live in a locked garage with a car and a running engine, perhaps the claims of progress may be conceded. The BBC – my TV station which I pay for seems to trot out an unending stream of motor-mouths. How can someone say that cyclists should not be catered for because they don’t pay road tax? I pay TWO lots of road tax, along with millions of others. My Grandmother, a nephew, my dog, and at least five people who I could term friends are now six foot under because of transport. My kids can’t walk to school without kow-towing every 100 meters to smaller families who live closer to the school but have chosen to drive. The Association of British Drivers, despite representing nobody are given a platform in every debate, lending the illusion of neutrality to a debate about which there is no balance.

    I WANT, I WANT, I WANT a planet which is fit and safe to live in, and to take advantage of being born in the era of potentially the greatest peace and prosperity that mankind has ever known. I have every right to expect FAIR treatment, but instead I see greed, ignorance and stupidity, overseen by pathetic men who see no further than their own well being or the four year election horizon. AARGGGHHHH!

    Pass the Mogadon


    There is considerable overlap between many of these costs on this list, "Utility" being one that particularly impinges on other sections. If an object or area had some utility prior to transport development, perhaps a field for crops, a picnic site or a rendevous for dealing drugs, if, for instance, road building diminishes that value, we have another cost of transport. This cost should be accounted for as long as it continues to be exercised. Account should also be made of such costs were they to remain even after all perceptible barriers to that cost were removed, so, for instance, were people to stop using a park because of roadworks and instead find some alternative, if that habit of using the park is permanently broken, it is an ongoing cost which must not be ignored.


    I suppose this aspect of transport costs might be coupled with noise, but in effect the two are not mutually dependant, even though they are commonly associated. In addition the crossover cost of LFN or Low Frequency Noise has been cited a significant but under estimated externality. “LFN continues to be ignored by legislation as an agent of disease” yet there appears to be

  • appearance of a large amount of auto-immune diseases among LFN-exposed workers;
  • correlation of specific tumourtypes to LFN exposure;
  • association of annoyance to organic lesions caused by previous LFN exposure;
  • respiratory tract lesions seen in LFN exposed humans and animal models;
  • features associated with individual susceptibility; and
  • whole-body biological response to LFN. 

    Vibration from transport has a distinct and measurable effect on structure. Again opinions as to the value of buildings is open to interpretation, but whatever values are placed on man made structures there is a degree of unfairness about the fact that UK railway companies are obliged to maintain over 1000 listed structures even if no longer in use but in contrast road users are not required to contribute to maintenance of roadside listed buildings even though the buildings may suffer damage by vibration ( A pertinent irony is that some road side buildings are still maintained by the Railway infrastructure companies!). Utility companies have to pay for repairs to pipes and cables, private owners have to call in Bob the Builder to redo the plastering and English Heritage perform the structural upgrades on York Minster. Etc.

    Visual Intrusion

    This is perhaps the one cost which, occasionally, turns out to be a ‘benefit’ Most people would agree that they would rather look out on a verdant meadow, mayflies dancing upon the mill pond, contented Friesians munching the cud and happy children playing ring a ring a roses than the visage presented by the Gravelly Hill interchange. - OK I exaggerate, but I needed to calm down.

    In this section, I will however shock you all, and bang the drum in favour of transport. In almost all aspects of transport provision, any benefits are charged for. A Taxi driver will not drive you further for nothing. But when it comes to ‘spotting’ we have a largely free service provided by the magnanimous transport user. Yes, you can join thousands of other enthusiast on any station platform in the land and eagerly collect numbers of engines. There is an intrepid group of aficionados who actually record sightings of lorries belonging to the Carlisle haulier, Eddie Stobbart. A recent news item even illustrated how package holidays were run to Greece so British government employees could satiate their desire for observing Greek military aircraft. All this excitement, generously and liberally doled about by the munificent and socially minded transport users and providers. Priceless – I take back everything I’ve ever said.   - Not.

    "Upstream processes"

    As pointed out under ‘downstream processes, not all transport costs are quantifiable at point or time of entry. In order to maintain and keep our cars on the road, certain systems have to operate which may carry external costs. Many of these may actually involve transport, so for instance, the delivery of the petrol to your petrol station; if the haulier or garages do not pay their full costs an ‘upstream cost’ of your car use is sustained. I would hate to be accused of double counting, so if account is already taken of these transport orientated transport costs that should be sufficient. Many of the costs outlined herein carry upstream costs, and not all of them measured directly. From quarrying for aggregate, to car building, from provision of waste at car washes to little things as esoteric as the animal testing for perfumes designed to be used in those little fiddly things which distract the driver from his rear view mirror. If we did not have such a demand for transport, some of these upstream costs would diminish. We are told that the war in Iraq was started to find "weapons of mass destruction", then we were told it was to keep the people of Iraq happy. If one of the reasons for the war in Iraq (and the wars is Afghanistan, Suez, Iran, Kuwait and the Caucuses were actually about securing oil for specific parties, that Iraq has the largest oil reserves outside of Saudi Arabia should give at least food for thought when considering the true costs of transport.


    On this list of transport costs I placed Deaths and Accidents first, basically for dramatic effect. I have saved nature until last, because I would hate to be thought of as a some jerk spouting tree hugging Hippy rubbish. So far all I have discussed are the effects of transport upon us humans. The majority of cost categories might also apply to non human nature. Each of the ‘Mainly External Kind’ costs might be applied to flora, fauna and some aspects of Geology. In a mini repetition of what has preceeded,

    Conclusions Chapter One

    We have a list which indicates some of the bad things about transport. It is probably not a comprehensive list. It is definitely an under-explored list. At no stage have I exaggerated but I am guilty of the sin of much omission. Each single item demands intensive quantitative study on several fronts. Many of the transport costs outlined have and are being studied and of that completed there is one over arching inescapable and practically unanimous coincident conclusion – that the motor transport user is causing some costs or damage without paying for it. At no stage do I, or any reasonable economist, demand the constraint of regulation for regulation’s sake.

    The solution to many problems, (not just, but especially for, transport), is glaringly simple.

    Add up the bill and present it to the consumer.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch.

    Some Sources
    Sharp, C. & Jennings, A. (1976) Transport and the Environment
    Vibroacoustic Disease: Low Frequency Noise-Induced Pathology. A Review Nuno A. A. Castelo Branco1, Mariana Alves-Pereira2 ( (Air Quality Framework Directive (Directive 96/62/EC)).