(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
.British practice (for at least the last 50 years) has been to treat transport as aseparate, somehow more technical issue
.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
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
money is spent, it should be furthering
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
costs to towards ‘pay per’ for all modes (and payment must includeexternalities). For car-users this means
on car tax and road tax and
capital spending runs at 1.0-1.2% of GDP compared with 0.6-0.8% in the UK, and revenue at nearly double
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.