In order to encourage people to get “back on public transport” why not change the tax laws and allow costs of travel – to and from a place of work – to be classified as genuine expenses which can be claimed or off set against a tax return.
At the moment people on PAYE have to fund their own expense to get to a place of work out of their personal net income. Hence a lot of people drive, especially those who have a designated parking space which is often provided by their employer.
To get these people out of cars and onto public transport, if they could offset – even a proportion – of the public transport costs against gross pay – I believe a lot of people would consider leaving cars at home.
In addition a lot of people who have now seen it is possible to work from home – who before COVID worked in an office and commuted daily – are now loathe to return as they have seen the savings in travel costs possible. Again if some of the future public transport costs were now allowed to be expensed against gross pay – I am sure a number of people would be more inclined to go back to commuting.
This is a simple idea, which is would be very easy to implement as the government can allow employers to credit against pay, public transport costs for getting to work. It does not require a huge investment nor a massive admin change, just a directive out to companies from the HMRC. It can be implemented quickly, it could be announced as a specific COVID policy to help “get people back to work”, it could be for a limited period (say 12 months) or for a single tax year? It could also be of great political benefit if presented properly by the government. Another way we are helping the country get back on its feet. It also is a very green idea.
I am convinced if personal expenditure on travel to work is allowed to be seen as a legitimate expense, even just a portion, more people will happily return to cities and towns by public transport. This would be a boon to the various transport operators and really good to support the green initiatives for cleaner air.
I hope you find this idea interesting, I really believe it could make a difference. Incidentally I would like you to know, I personally would NOT benefit from this idea.