Memorandum by Fife Council (IT 115)
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
Fife Council has for many years placed a strong
emphasis on the promotion of public transport services. Prior
to deregulation a fares freeze was in place for several years
which led to a stable public transport network and a significant
increase in the number of fare paying passengers. Following deregulation
in 1986 there was stability of fares and patronage but with a
requirement for increased finance to support the public transport
operations through private operators. In recent years we have
seen the consolidation within Fife of a major bus operator virtually
acting in a monopoly situation facing little competition. As a
result of this and the growth in car usage within Fife, there
has been a marginal deterioration of the services, frequent increase
in fares followed by significant reductions in the numbers of
fare paying passengers.
It certainly was hoped that the White Paper
would allow us to tackle these circumstances through network franchising,
however this is not the proposal contained within the White Paper.
In general Fife Council welcomes the change of direction contained
within the White Paper away from "predict and provide"
towards the development of a more sustainable integrated transport
strategy. If less capital monies are being made available for
the development of infrastructure and the strategy development
is taking a change of direction then it surely must follow that
there is a requirement for increased revenue to support the alternative
mode, i.e., public transport operations. While the opportunity
exists to raise additional revenues within the larger conurbations,
no such opportunity exists within the non-city and rural Councils
with towns in the order of up to 50,000 population. Road pricing
obviously is not applicable, nor is the significant increase in
parking charges when the town centres are faced with a deterioration
in their overall environment and competition from the recent development
of out of town shopping centres where no parking charging levies
will be possible.
In the Fife context we will have to rely more
on encouragement and the provision of better alternative facilities
for bus, cycling and walking to see some change in modal split.
Consequently the contents of the quality partnerships/quality
contracts in relation to bus operations is of great importance.
If this "daughter" paper does not have the powers to
deal with the issues described in this letter then it is clear
that the achievement of an integrated transport strategy in Fife
will not happen, as it will fail in many other non-city and rural
authorities throughout the country. There needs to be control
of public transport fares; this is a key issue. Bus fares
have gone up on three occasions during the last 18 months and
as said there has been a significant reduction in fare paying
passengers. Local authorities require some control/influence in
this area to achieve the objectives of the White Paper.
In conclusion I do believe the White Paper has
made a major contribution towards a change in travel habits of
the people within this country and does give the transport planners
the opportunity to plan for a change of direction. However, in
the non-city and rural context of Fife Council there is no question
that increased revenue will be required to maintain and improve
upon the level of service available for public transport users
to assist in dealing with matters such as social inclusion, etc.
The means of raising extra revenue is not available and consequently
if the quality partnerships/quality contracts do not provide innovative
means for dealing with the bus operators then Fife's ability to
establish an integrated transport strategy as indicated in the
White Paper will not be possible.
Head of Transportation