WHAT THE CHANCELLOR'S £180 BILLION MEANS FOR TRANSPORT

Neil Davies, Transport Consultant, Halcrow Fox, on 10th October, 2000

By way of introduction, the speaker noted some of the broader objectives behind the Government's 10-year transport plan, which have a direct impact on the day-to-day life of the nation, be it journeys to work, leisure activity, or the movement of goods to shops or industry. Effective transport is essential for an enhanced quality of life, for a strong economy, and for a pleasant environment. Improving public transport is also vital in the elimination of social exclusion, especially for those without access to a car: the very old, the very young and their mothers, and the disabled. Good effective transport helps to create a fairer society.

The links between transport and the social, economic and environmental health of the nation need to be recognised and reinforced. The case needs to be made, and made loudly, that quality of life (defined by social inclusion, education, and environmental impacts) is dependant on responsible car use and its integration within an effective, efficient, accessible, and affordable transport system.

The new 10-year plan anticipates growing demand for better quality and better choice in transport. It commits to a new level of investment on a scale that is aimed at achieving real change, on a year by year basis to 2010 and beyond. The plan has embedded within it the Government's priorities for reducing congestion, better integration of modes, and a much wider choice of faster, safer, and more reliable transport, whether it be road, rail or other means of public transport.

The key challenges that the 10-year plan must address are seen as :-

• Road traffic growth and congestion

• Inadequate public transport all across England

• Overcrowding and woeful congestion in London

• Ineffective transport in rural areas

• Tackling the backlog of maintenance

• Demand for rail services

• Movement of freight

• Safety

• Climate change

• Pollution, both air and noise, and

• Social exclusion.

A number of these problems are deep seated and cannot necessarily be solved in the time-span of a decade. Some of the issues are inextricably linked to an expanding economy and rising incomes. In the longer term, however, the policies underlying the plan are aimed at producing more sustainable and less dispersed patterns of development, and should help to reduce the need to travel. Social and technological change will also alter behavioural patterns in unforeseen ways. In trying to face up to these challenges, the plan sets out a realistic strategy based on much higher levels of investment over the next decade. Table 1, sets out the targets for investment from both the public and private sector. The plan envisages a total of £121 billion capital

from their wages, and become experts in a second business, such as antiques or tropical fish.

The speaker forecast that bus services would in future be limited to urban and inter-urban routes and that rural services without subsidy would disappear. Already many rural dwellers have to have a car so there is no incentive for them to use a bus service; and those with no car find that the bus services are withdrawn as a result of being unprofitable. Subsidised services are too infrequent to be very useful.

There will be advances in methods of controlling traffic in towns to assist bus services to run regularly by bus lanes, guided busways, signal priority and `telematics' information services for passengers, but he considered the best chance for rural areas was a considerable development of the PostBus or local DIY methods of organising services.

Don Lovell

WHAT THE CHANCELLOR'S £180 BILLION MEANS FOR TRANSPORT

Neil Davies, Transport Consultant, Halcrow Fox, on 10th October, 2000

By way of introduction, the speaker noted some of the broader objectives behind the Government's 10-year transport plan, which have a direct impact on the day-to-day life of the nation, be it journeys to work, leisure activity, or the movement of goods to shops or industry. Effective transport is essential for an enhanced quality of life, for a strong economy, and for a pleasant environment. Improving public transport is also vital in the elimination of social exclusion, especially for those without access to a car: the very old, the very young and their mothers, and the disabled. Good effective transport helps to create a fairer society.

The links between transport and the social, economic and environmental health of the nation

Table 1 : Total transport investment and expenditure (2001/02 to 2010/11) (£ billion outturn)

Public Investment  PrivateInvestment  Sub-Total Public Resource TOTAL

Strategic Roads 13.6  2.6 16.2  5.0  21.3

Railways 14.7 34.3 49.1 11.3  60.4

Local Transport 19.3  9.0 28.3 30.6  58.9

London 7.5  10.4  17.8  7.4 25.3

Other Transport 0.7  N/A  0.7  1.5  2.2

Unallocated 9.0 N/A  9.  N/A  9.0

Charging Income N/A  N/A  N/A 2.7 2.7

TOTAL 64.7  56.3  121.0  58.6  179.7

investment over the next 10 years. Some £59 bn. will go into local transport where buses will remain the absolute backbone of services. With traffic growth of some 22%, spending on roads will total £59bn., mainly focused on relieving bottlenecks. Rail investment will match roads with some £60bn. spread between capital schemes and rail support grants. £25bn. is included to help solve London's problems. These inputs will be combined with a series of other initiatives to boost integration, change public attitudes and generally change expectations. The figure of £180bn. sounds a lot but, reading between the financial lines, it is not all new money for new projects. The legacy of under-investment means that much of the plan will be sunk into catching up the backlog of two decades. Nonetheless, there are not too many sectors that have £18bn./ year to drive their programmes and the key question is "Is it enough?". The reality is that it will go a long way in introducing improvements if it is targeted properly, and the year by year figure is maintained.

Discussion

The talk generated a series of interesting questions ranging across the involvement of the private sector, the use of weight restrictions to cut down maintenance costs, a new approach to freight depots, and cheaper rail fares. One point of consensus between the political parties was noted _ the fact that the aims and objectives have been drawn from a Green Paper which was published by the previous administration. One question related to the relatively small growth of travel by public transport at 10% p.a., but this is 10% of total travel and hence growth is likely to be larger within the public transport sector. From another line of questioning came a final and real hope that the involvement of the private sector will push the local authorities into greater efficiencies in the discharge of their responsibilities.

John Earp