TRAIN fares are going up ("Rail passengers to be hit by peak-time journey fare rise", The Herald, August 14).

This is no surprise. No matter whether public transport is owned by private enterprise, wholly owned by the state or a mixture of both models the universal constant is that at the end of the day the general public foots the bill. The situation where 4p of every pound raised in fares is taken as profit could in theory be replaced by the identical system with everyone involved doing exactly what they do but with the profit being spent on the general public. Why should a third party profit simply because I want to travel to Edinburgh to do some shopping or fancy visiting my auntie in Auchtermuchty?

It may seem a radical suggestion but, bearing in mind that the public is footing the bill whatever system one adopts, why do we not simply make all public transport free and abolish fares altogether? An expanded public transport system free to all users would have a massive effect, from reducing reliance on the motor car and the knock-on effect that would have on road congestion fuel consumption and pollution to a stimulation of the tourism industry with there being no hindrance to visitors exploring every nook and cranny of the country.

Who would inflict on themselves the torture of driving the M8 from Glasgow to Edinburgh if they knew they could jump on any train going there every five minutes or so and it would not cost them a penny as it was paid through direct taxation? At either end of the journey they could use any bus they felt like again because it was free. Why would you throw money away on a depreciating asset (as that is what a car is) if a bus passed your front door every few minutes and it cost you nothing to travel on uncongested roads?

There is not the slightest hope of my suggestion of universally free public transport being adopted because there is no profit in it for the Establishment. Worker bees are caught in the trap of being forced to use private transport because public transport is simply not fit for purpose and kept deliberately so.

There is profit in selling cars and creating a "keeping up with the Joneses" marketing policy. There is profit in drilling for oil and getting the proles to buy it. There is profit in squeezing hard-earned cash from commuters who have no alternative but to play the game else they don't work. As usual, in everything from transport to nuclear weapons "things is as they is" simply because those at the top of the social heap make a buck out of it.

How often do we have to accept the introduction of measures that accentuate the disproportionate distribution of the wealth of the nation into the pockets of those who already have more than they need? It is time we addressed the main problem in the country. Let us treat the disease and not be sidetracked by the symptoms.

David J Crawford,

Flat 3/3 131 Shuna Street,