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Labour Finance & Industry Group Submission To

Labour Finance & Industry Group Submission To

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Published by alanwenbansmith7543
Recommendation from Labour Finance & Industry Group to UK Government on new transport policy
Recommendation from Labour Finance & Industry Group to UK Government on new transport policy

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Published by: alanwenbansmith7543 on Jan 27, 2010
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11/11/2011

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Labour Finance & Industry GroupSubmission to Partnership in Power 
‘Towards a new Labour Transport Strategy’ 
Summary:
The success of the Labour Government since 1997 in creating 1.6 million new jobs has put increasing demands upon the transport infrastructure after years of under-investment. Therefore future policies must correct under-investment, combat increasing road congestion and the decline of rail, whilst addressing the wider environmental, social and economic issues driven by transport policy. Building on Alastair Darling’s recent statement ‘Managing Our Roads’ we suggest a radical newapproach. We propose that much more of transport fund-raising and decision-making are devolved toregional and local levels within a broader national strategy, with an associated drive to secure wider  public support for the tough choices involved. The paper deals only with road and rail because theseare the most urgent political issues.
1.Why does transport matter?
Transport connects to everything else
1.The effect of transport policy reach into nearly every aspect of the nation’s life. Specifically, theavailability and quality of transport affects:(a)National productivity: not just access to markets and suppliers, but supporting the intensityof economic interaction central to cluster formation in knowledge-based industries;(b)Where people choose to live, and what choices they then have of where to work, shop,enjoy their leisure and access services like health and education;(c)The social make-up of neighbourhoods and the ease and quality of social interactions(locally and over longer distances);(d)Health and quality of life (directly through noise, danger, pollution, severance and visualintrusion of traffic, and indirectly by inhibiting exercise and global warming);(e)The rate of depletion of critical natural resources (and our dependence on oil imports).
Transport matters to voters
2.People do not automatically connect these issues with transport, but the fact is that they
are
connected and they are amongst the most important issues facing both Government and voters.Transport is also a potent political issue in its own right: more and more people are directlyexperiencing late and cancelled trains and congested roads. Some of these problems are the resultof the growth we have achieved, but unfortunately people do not always think of this when theyare waiting for a train or bus that does not arrive.3.Opinion research shows that the botched dismemberment and privatisation of British Rail remainsa major part of the Tories continuing eclipse
1
. However, responsibility now rests with Labour.
2.Where are we now?
1.The dominance of roads in transport provision since WW2 has had crucial effects on patterns o behaviour, with effects well beyond the transport system itself:(a)Roads offer almost universal accessibility to those with a car, making the car one of ousociety’s most desired possessions;
1
According to Andrew Cooper, a marketing consultancy director writing in a conservative think-tank publication(
‘The Blue Book on Transport’ 
, Politico’s Publishing, 2002)
Page 1
 
(b)People take advantage of additional road capacity to drive further in pursuit of a wider choice of homes, work, leisure and services (half the growth in travel over the last 30 yearshas simply been people travelling further for the same purposes);(c)Where people live is increasingly a balance of cost and lifestyle, on the assumption of beingable to drive to a wide range of jobs, retail or leisure opportunities. Similarly, businessesand public services increasingly locate where road access and parking is easiest;(d)Public transport, which depends on collective provision, is not well-suited to meeting thediffuse pattern of demand that results. Services to the weaker centres decline, the advantageof out-of-town location increases – and so does car-dependency;(e)People without the use of a car (because too old, too young, too poor, disabled or simplydisqualified) are significantly disadvantaged in terms of access opportunities that the car- borne majority
2
take for granted: they suffer ‘transport poverty’;(f)The real cost of car ownership continues to fall and the relative cost of public transport usecontinues to rise;(g)The development of commercial sites along motorway routes without adequate publictransport access continues to encourage car usage.2.These adverse changes to patterns of demand are reinforced by the way we pay for transport: pricesignals favour the use of cars over public transport where there is a choice:(a)With the car we pay a large amount to get access to the system (the cost of the car itself,insurance and road tax). After that, roads are free and the other costs of use (fuel andmaintenance) are relatively low and not strongly associated with any particular trip. The
‘pay once’ 
price signal means that having acquired a car, the logic is to maximise its use;(b)With public transport on the other hand we pay fo
each
use we make. The
‘pay per’ 
 pricesignal means the logic is to avoid this cost by using the car if this is at all feasible.
Why aren’t present policies enough? 
3.The immediate symptoms of transport failure are obvious enough: chaotic railways, congestedroads and urban sprawl – all reinforcing each other. This is not the fault of present policies, buthas longstanding and deep-seated causes (see Appendix 1). For the last 50 years UK governmentsof all parties have tried to keep up with burgeoning travel demands by concentrating on improvingand adding to the part of the transport system for which demand is highest – roads.4.‘Predict and provide’ (which describes this approach) was abandoned by Labour in the 1998Transport White Paper 
3
, in favour of a more integrated strategy, more like the best practice insome continental European countries. But undoing the results of decades of underinvestment inurban public transport and rail is not easy or quick, and making such a radical shift involves takingon an entrenched roads lobby (including officials and professionals) and short-term crises (like theSeptember 2000 fuel protests).5.There have been revisions on other aspects of transport: three examples give the flavour:(a)The creation of Network Rail has been widely welcomed, but has not in itself stopped thehaemorrhage of money into the black hole of Railtrack’s neglected maintenance. Most theinvestment in rail improvements is planned to come from the private sector 
4
, but theheightened perception of risk will make this more expensive and difficult.(b)21 Multi-modal Studies (MMSs) were started between 1999 and 2001 to examine ways of solving the worst problems of congestion on the national road network. These have produced hugely expensive ‘wish lists’ of schemes, which in practical terms look very likethe roads programme that the Tories gave up on in 1995. As then, it is becoming clear thatthese proposals are unaffordable – and would not work without road user charges;
2
depending on the region and urban or rural setting, 20-30% of 
households
have no car; plus of course there willalso be individuals in car-owning households for whom the car(s) are not available.
3
DETR (1998)
‘A new deal for transport: better for everyone’ 
 
4
£34.3bn (70%) of £49.0bn that the Transport 10 Year Plan proposed should be invested in national railways
Page 2
 
(c)The ODPM’s ‘Sustainable Communities’ plan proposes four large-scale housing growthareas in the South East. Each of these gives rise to major transport requirements (notallowed for in either the Transport 10 Year Plan or the MMSs), and would worsen regionaleconomic disparities if funded from an unchanged national pot.
3.What should we do about it?
 A new vision for transport 
1.Several of our continental European neighbours have better-performing transport systems, and thefundamental reason is a different vision of the role of transport. Transport is an integral part of their vision of the future of their cities and regions (see Appendix 2), their quality of life andnational economic competitiveness – and transport consequently takes a higher proportion of national GDP
5
.British practice (for at least the last 50 years) has been to treat transport as aseparate, somehow more technical issue
6
.2.The first step is to reiterate the importance of transport – both as a key part of Labour’s whole political project and as a crucial voters’ test. The vision for transport must start at national level:how does the kind of country we want inform our aspirations for the transport system?. Theanswers are the obverse of the major transport impacts listed at the start (paragraph 1.2), andinclude such
 public
objectives as:(a)Supporting an urban renaissance, recognising the role of urban concentration and intensityin knowledge based industriesand increasing national productivity;(b)Reducing the economic disparities that are shifting the balance of population from North toSouth, causing disproportionate transport costs, overheating and congestion in the south;(c)Securing and protecting urban and rural quality of life in terms of accessibility of opportunities, environmental quality, social inclusion and a strong social fabric;(d)Achieving the urban/rural balance necessary to secure urban renaissance and protectcountryside from excessive development;(e)Reducing the transport sector’s vulnerability to shortages of scarce natural resources, andensuring that it is sustainable in the long-run.
 A new strategy 
3.A strategy to achieve these aims must bring together three key elements: a fairer approach totransport pricing; improving transport integration by devolution to regional and local levels; andengaging wider public support to counter the influence of single-interest lobbies.
Fairer pricing, creating real choices
4.How we pay for transport is the crucial component of a truly integrated transport strategy.Alastair Darling’s announcement of a major study of road user charging is highly significant, because it has the potential to change the imbalance of price structures (paragraph 2.2). We believe this to be the foundation for a more effective approach.5.The key principles are (a) that the way that users pay should not introduce an artificial bias intothe choices that they make, and (b) where
 public
money is spent, it should be furthering
 public
objectives such as those in paragraph 3.2. In more detail:(a)while public benefits should be supported (where necessary) with public money, there is no‘pot of gold’. Health and education rate higher and in general we should expect transportusers to pay their own way, including compensating for the disbenefits that their travelimposes on others. Government and LA contributions should be for buying public benefits;(b)we must shift
users’ 
costs to towards ‘pay per’ for all modes (and payment must includeexternalities). For car-users this means
less
on car tax and road tax and
more
on tolls,
5
capital spending runs at 1.0-1.2% of GDP compared with 0.6-0.8% in the UK, and revenue at nearly double
6
eg appraisal of transport schemes for public expenditure relies almost exclusively on effects within or very close tothe transport system. The broader questions of social polarisation and urban and regional change play no part.
Page 3

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