Memorandum by UNISON (IT 156)
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
UNISON is the largest trade union in the UK
with some 1.3 million members covering both the private and public
sectors. Our transport group represents members employed in three
distinct sectors: Passenger Transport Executives, bus companies
and British Waterways, while our local government group is representative
of our members employed in airports and air traffic control, community
transport and transport planning.
As part of the Government's consultation process
which led up to the publication of the White paper, UNISON produced
its own public transport policy document, "Moving Forward"
and submitted a response to the consultation paper.
UNISON welcomes the White Paper and looks forward
to the early introduction of legislation to bring to fruition
the many good ideas and proposals contained within it.
In the Summary of the White Paper published
as an adjunct to the full document, there is usefully listed eight
proposals. This UNISON response deals with what we believe are
the key issues in the White Paper in the same order as that in
UNISON welcomes the proposal to require local
authorities outside London to introduce Local Transport Plans
(4.73 to 4.77). It is essential that a pro public transport bias
is built into the local planning process. However, local plans
in themselves will not be enough. Many of the innovations recommended
will involve local authorities in extra expenditure and unless
the Government provides access to new sources of income their
potential will only occasionally be realised (see our later comments
In our view local plans should be an integral
part of a Regional Transport Strategy and to that extent we welcome
the government's proposals for these as set out in 4.50 to 4.60.
UNISON believes that it is important to build on the examples
of best practice that exist in the Passenger Transport Executive
UNISON supports the creation of Regional Transport
Authorities which would be responsible for drawing up the strategies.
The Government's proposal to extend the role of the Regional Planning
Conferences may be acceptable in the short term but eventually
proper democratic structures should be set up as part of a move
towards regional tiers of government for England. The position
in Scotland and Wales is of course different in that the Parliament
and Assembly respectively will exercise a strategic responsibility
In drawing up local plans and regional strategies
there should be full consultation with the various stakeholders,
including operators, the business sectors, and user groups. UNISON
has long argued for a strengthening in the user/passenger consultative
provisions, especially for the bus industry where there is virtually
nothing at the present time. What is needed is the establishment
of Regional Transport Users Committees responsible for scrutinising
and reviewing the development of regional transport strategies.
Their membership should be drawn from the various stakeholders,
including operators, industry, user groups and trade unions. Such
a committee could also be given ombudsman functions to defend
the rights of the passengers.
UNISON welcomes the proposal to allow local
authorities to introduce income generating schemes to raise funds
to finance measures which will alleviate congestion and reduce
pollution. However there is little justification in excluding
from the pilot schemes the numerous out of town shopping centres
and business parks. There is a great potential to establish partnerships
between operators, local transport authorities, retailers/business
park landlords and passenger groups. Access to these sites could
be significantly improved by providing more frequent bus services
paid for from the proceeds of the local taxation schemes.
Local Transport Plans should also not overlook
the potential offered by the UK's inland waterways. There are
many good examples where British Waterways, local authorities
and other private sector interests have formed partnerships to
exploit the potential for waterway transport and to improve local
Elderly people and women in particular need
to feel safe and secure when using public transport and the measures
outlined in the White Paper, which UNISON supports, are designed
to do that. But there will be some elderly people and women who
will continue to feel insecure and unsafe, even where the risk
of attack or harassment is very low. As part of their transport
plans, therefore, local authorities and private transport operators
need to co-operate on the introduction of additional measures,
such as dial-a-ride schemes which offer safe door-to-door journeys.
UNISON welcomes the support given to cycling
and walking in the White Paper. We see these as an integral part
of green commuter plans which all employers should adopt. To facilitate
safer cycling local authorities should incorporate the aims of
the National Cycle Network (co-ordinated by SUSTRANS) within their
Local Transport Plan. A strategy for easier walking, including
pedestrianisation, should also be included in the Plan.
Municipal airports are also a key part of Local
Transport Plans. But in order to compete internationally (and
to improve the local infrastructure and facilities in general)
they need access to sources of revenue. We welcome, therefore,
the proposal to free soundly-financed local authority airports
from public sector borrowing controls. In preparing its new policy
on airports we urge the government to balance the impact of the
growth in municipal air traffic on health and the environment
with that on the local economy.
The White Paper acknowledges (2.32) that "deregulation
has not broken the spiral of decline in local bus use" and
compares bus journeys outside London, which have fallen by about
a quarter since 1986, with those in London, where buses are regulated,
which have remained steady. Yet there is no proposal to re-introduce
bus regulation outside London. Instead we are told that Quality
Partnerships between private bus companies and local authorities
are helping to change the image of the bus and to stem, even reverse,
the decline in its use.
Bus quality partnerships are a good idea, but
the way in which they are currently implemented does not provide
good value for money and they fail to generate the overall network
improvements that are so badly needed if full transport integration
is to be achieved. At present, quality partnerships are targeted
on certain routes and services, consequently the money tends to
go where the returns are most lucrative. A scheme is needed, therefore,
which benefits the whole network.
For outside London UNISON has advocated the
adoption of route or service franchising. This would involve the
appropriate public transport authorities awarding contracts to
operators to run services in accordance with a comprehensive range
of minimum standards. UNISON believes the enforcement of these
standards should be the responsibility of the transport authorities
and would include standards of service, safety, roadworthiness
and employment practices. The responsibilities of the Transport
Commissioners would also transfer to the transport authorities
and be enforced via the franchise contract compliance process.
The extra money for rural transport is most
welcome. However, the funds will only be available for three years
and as such this does not provide a secure basis for longer term
planning. In UNISON's view the present level of extra funding
would be best used to undertake a range of pilot schemes aimed
at finding new and innovative approaches to the transport needs
of the rural population.
With regard to buses generally the Government
should formulate and promote a set of national bus standards to
improve the bus fleets within, say, five years. This would not
only enhance the image and consequently the attractiveness of
the bus, but would also provide a much needed boost to the bus
manufacturing and engineering industries of the UK.
UNISON would like to see the railways returned
to public ownership and control, although with a different structure
to that which was in place before the 1993 Transport Act. The
aim must be the delivery of a reliable and safe service at a reasonable
cost to the user, with proper protection and adequate reward for
The proposals set out in the White Paper, however,
make it clear that while a greater measure of public control is
to be exercised through the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), ownership
is to remain in private hands. While this is regrettable we do
believe that the SRA can play a key role in the development of
an integrated transport strategy. It will have the opportunity
to specify service levels and passenger benefits which fully reflect
this, but it is essential that the railways are planned and are
operated as a coherent network and not as a collection of different
UNISON welcomes the announcement by the Secretary
of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on 30
September that a shadow SRA will be set up as quickly as possible,
and before legislation is introduced, to give strategic rail policy
advice on how a better integrated railway can be achieved. A key
part of its remit will be franchise renegotiation and renewal.
This is important if the train operating companies are to improve
on their poor performance to date. The threat of non-renewal will
help to concentrate their minds.
In UNISON's view, good quality public transport
information is needed at all principal transport interchanges,
including main line railway stations, bus stations, airports and
ports of entry. However, making an impact in this area clearly
requires the co-operation of a wide range of interested parties.
Furthermore, introducing high tech information systems at these
locations will require access to the building infrastructure.
However, with some exceptions, these are now in the hands of the
commercial interests who may have a different view as to what
features should be installed at prime sites. Although UNISON accepts
that a voluntary partnership approach is desirable, we believe
it will be necessary for the Government to give transport authorities
extra powers to require private businesses to comply with their
This measure is most welcome. However, local
authorities who already provide an equivalent or better standard
of support should be encouraged to continue to do so. It is particularly
important that local authorities in rural areas where there are
poor bus links take steps to improve the service and operate the
concessionary fares schemes in a generous manner. Moreover, it
is important to ensure that any new money does not simply substitute
for existing money. The aim should be to secure a net increase
in the support given to public transport and the elderly's needs
UNISON welcomes the initiatives designed to
reduce dependency on the car. We particularly welcome the Government's
commitment to put its own house in order (5.23), by requiring
all government agencies and departments to develop green transport
plans by March 1999. In developing this initiative the Government
should require employers to consult with recognised trade unions.
Moreover this approach should be extended into
the schools sector. The travel to school patterns of behaviour
are a major contribution to urban congestion at peak times. All
schools should be required to produce green travel to school plans
in conjunction with their Governing Bodies and the Parent Teacher
Associations. These should include measures to encourage children
to walk or cycle in safety to school.
UNISON believes that LEA provided school transport
has an important part to play in delivering the Government's objectives.
Already school buses provide an invaluable service in many parts
of the country. A relatively small investment could see this developed
and built upon to provide a wider range of flexible services.
Such services should be planned to coincide with wider use of
school and other buildings as part of the growing network of "out
of hours" study support for children and young people.
Similarly, UNISON welcomes proposals to extend
the scope and function of school crossing patrol attendants. We
have already made separate detailed comments to the Department,
but we would wish to draw attention to the safety needs of schools
and the proposed community crossing patrol attendants. In particular,
we have urged the Department to undertake research into means
of ensuring maximum visibility for such staff.
UNISON believes that the resource implications
of extending the use of school bus and school crossing patrol
attendants need to be taken fully into account. Currently these
staff receive hourly rates of pay for the hours they work. During
the school holidays they receive retainer pay which is protected
under the national Green Book agreement. The more flexible use
of such staff will have cost implications both in relation to
the number of staff employed and the hours for which they are
paid. UNISON believes that local authorities should not be expected
to meet these costs solely from within existing budgets.
In addition transport authorities should encourage
the development of green travel to work plans, particularly for
out of town business parks and trading estates. It is disappointing
therefore that the big out-of-town supermarkets are not to face
any car parking charges. This will hinder the introduction of
green travel to shop and work plans and undermine town centres.
Local Authorities should also support brown field development
wherever possible rather than exacerbate the problems caused by
development on green field sites. As the White Paper says (4.168),
"the aim of housing (and other) development should be to
avoid undue reliance on the car".
The Government should also support the extension
of homeworking and teleshopping to reduce traffic congestion and
Like the Government, UNISON accepts that the
car is a practical means of transport for many people. However
to do nothing to control the growth of car usage will ultimately
kill off the attraction of the car. UNISON believes, for example,
that schemes such as Park and Ride have yet to be fully exploited.
Where they are well planned and properly resourced they can make
a major contribution to reducing car commuting. In addition the
installation of better quality information systems for motorists
would help to manage urban congestion more effectively. If, for
example, information on parking accessibility was displayed on
the main entry routes into towns and cities then this would help
in moving traffic volumes more efficiently and quickly.
However, we also need to employ the stick as
well as the carrot if we are to reduce traffic congestion and
improve public transport. Local authorities should exercise more
frequently their powers to restrict car parking and, if necessary,
extend no-parking areas. To help public transport, notably buses,
to move freely bus lane offences should be treated more seriously
than they are at present.
The Government needs to tighten the regulation
of wheel clamping and car pounds. This is an area wide open to
abuse and exploitation. Apart from the activities of private clampers
on private ground most local authorities have contracted out their
clamping and car pound services. Consequently, to control the
excesses of some private operators, there needs to be national
standards which can be monitored and enforced. These should encompass
issues like the time allowed between the issue of a parking ticket,
the fitting of a clamp and the towing away. Some control should
also be exercised over the levels of penalty charges.
UNISON supports the establishment of the Commission
as an agenda setting forum to stimulate development and change.
It would be a tragedy if the Commission served only to impede
progress rather than to encourage it. In terms of its composition
there should be representatives from all the key stakeholders,
including the trade unions.
UNISON is pleased to be given this opportunity
to contribute to the Committee's consideration of the White Paper
and we would be happy to give oral evidence in support of this