Fare increases show Coalition on wrong track

IN the Coalition agreement signed by the Tories and Lib Dems, David Cameron and Nick Clegg said they were both "committed to fair pricing for rail travel".

A little over six months later, a wave of fare hikes means that pledge has been well and truly broken.

Once a cost-effective way to get to work or to journey to different parts of the city, county or country, train travel is fast becoming a luxury.

The price rises introduced this week mean that commuters are being forced to fork out up to a fifth of their salary for the privilege of travelling by rail.

And what do passengers get for their money? A poor quality service blighted by overcrowding, delays and complicated rules and restrictions on travel.

Meanwhile, the private rail companies stuff their pockets at our expense, with no guarantee that the money raised by these fare increases will be ploughed back into improvements.

Our politicians have long claimed to be determined to steer us away from the car and on to public transport.

Allowing operators to bring in above-inflation fare rises – on buses as well as trains – seems an odd way to achieve that, although perhaps they are banking on the equally scandalous increase in petrol prices to deter many of us from getting back behind the wheel.

Also worth considering is the impact these fare increases will have on the economy.

At a time when the Government should be doing all it can to encourage industry to generate the cash that will drive the country out of the doldrums it is apparently quite content to see workers hit harder than they have ever been hit before.

At the start of what we hoped would be a year of recovery, making it more expensive for people to get to work seems a peculiar way to kickstart the economy.

Costly office

THERE is no question that the office of Lord Mayor is one that commands deep respect.

The holder acts as a civic figurehead for Leeds, fulfilling duties that may be overwhelmingly ceremonial but are important nonetheless.

However, with figures showing that the position has cost the city more than 1.5m over the last five years, it is perhaps time to look more carefully at the expense incurred.

There is no suggestion that we should ditch the role or the proud traditions that go with it.

But in straitened times – and with stringent funding cuts

looming – it is only right that every area of local spending is subject to close scrutiny.

Cabby travels

GOOD luck to the trio of amateur cabbies taking a taxi to Australia.

Their journey will take them to the icy Arctic and through the searing heat of the Middle East.

How typical of taxi drivers to take the long way round.