Memorandum by The Automobile Association
THE GOVERNMENT'S INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE
The AA was founded in 1905 to promote and to
defend the interests of pioneer motorists. Concern for road safety
was enshrined in its first rules; and public affairs have remained
at its heart for more than 90 years. Today, the AA provides mutual
assistance to, and protection for, its 9.5 million members as
road-users, as users of other means of travel or transportation,
and as home owners or occupiers.
The objectives of the AA are to promote safety
on the roads; to represent the interests of road-users; to provide
services and benefits to members; to assist in harmonising the
needs of road-users with the users of other means of travel or
transportation; and to assist in harmonising the needs of road-users
with the protection and enhancement of the environment.
Car ownership will continue to grow. This is
both acknowledged and welcomed in the White Paper, bringing as
it does flexibility and a widening of the horizons of many more
families and individuals. But if increasing car ownership and
use is to be sustainable, it must be planned for now, and managed
better in the future.
The White Paper provides the strategic framework
within which future transport policies and investment decisions
can be set. The government must now build quickly on the consensus,
goodwill and momentum that it has generated.
In this memorandum, the AA has set out the key
issues that need to be addressed now, and the actions the government
must take to start the long process of providing the United Kingdom
with the best transport systems in Europe.
The key to the delivery of a new deal for transport
is finance. The White Paper recognised this fact, as did the Chancellor
in his statement on the Comprehensive Spending Review.
"Anybody who travels on our roads and
railways knows that after years of neglect and under-investment,
Britain suffers from an over-crowded, under-financed, under-planned
and under-maintained transport system."
While these are encouraging words, the funding
model that has emerged is clear: there will be no additional public
investment. Additional investment must come from transport users
themselves through higher fares, new charges on workplace parking,
charges to enter cities, and motorway tolls.
However, the Deputy Prime Minister has secured
a concession from the Chancellor that the revenue from new charges
will be hypothecated to transport investment.
The AA believes the order of priorities for
transport investment to be:
Maintenance of existing infrastructure.
More professional operation of transport
systems and services.
Investment in high-return projects
bringing economic and environmental benefits.
The government must act on the high ideals
presented by the Chancellor in his statement to Parliament and
commit funding to provide the UK with a transport system at least
equal to our European neighbours.
The White Paper proposes the eventual implementation
of congestion charges, workplace parking charges, and motorway
tolls. Research among AA members suggests that the acceptability
of these new charges depends on whether or not people see them
as reasonable, sensible and fair. The AA has told the Deputy Prime
Minister that public support and acceptance of new charges depends
on three key principles being adopted:
The money raised from motorists must
be spent on locally popular, workable, value-for-money packages
of roads and transport services relevant to those motorists who
The new charges must be spent wholly
on improvements and must not be used as a substitute for existing
spending from existing revenues.
The development of new charging streams
must be tied to a fundamental review and reform of motoring taxation
that has a direct link between what motorists pay for the use
of roads and what they get in transport servicesseparating
a charge to use roads from taxation for general expenditure.
The latter is a critical first step in setting
up the framework for new charges dedicated to transport investment.
It is a model that has been developed by the AA based on the report
Reforming road taxation, commissioned from David Newbery,
Professor of Applied Economics at Cambridge University.
The principle of separating a road charge from
general taxation, as proposed by Professor Newbery and the AA,
is now widely supported by mainstream transport professionals,
and is the key that will unlock the much needed long-term reforms
in transport investment.
The European Commission's White Paper Fair
payment for infrastructure use supports the central point
of the AA's advocacy-separating taxes from charges and permitting
the charge proceeds to flow directly to infrastructure managers
to enable rational investment in transport infrastructure.
The government must establish transparent
new accounts embracing new charges and existing revenue and spending,
and give binding institutional protection so that new charges
on motorists will be additional money for transport investment.
The Roads Review was a microcosm of the key
issues in the White Paper generally. The AA fully supports the
key proposals in the review.
Increased investment in maintenance
as the first priority.
Second priority to "real time"
operation of the network, using new technology operated in Regional
Traffic Control Centres.
A realistic, deliverable programme
of major improvements associated with a financial plan to deliver
However, the switch of priority to road maintenance
and operation means the residual funds guarantee that only 37
schemes will be implemented over seven years, with the popular
by-pass programme carrying the burden to the detriment of safety
and the environment of local communities.
Unsurprisingly, the government is undertaking
a raft of studies looking at the major traffic, safety and environmental
problems that the previous roads programme aimed to solve. It
seems unlikely that the majority of these problems could be solved
without substantial road or transport projects.
The government must now deliver the seven-year
programme of higher investment that it has identified. It must
bring forward high-return projects to address the major problems
it has highlighted for study, within three years, together with
the associated financing plan.
A NEW DEAL
The White Paper's specific focus on giving motorists
a better deal in return for the enormous, and growing, taxation
that they bear is very welcome. Much could be done in the relatively
short term to implement the government's proposals, including:
Speedy implementation of more professional
operational management of the road networkparticularly
to manage and clear incidents quickly and give reliable information
to road users.
A review of the New Roads and Streetworks
Act to give highway authorities much greater control over utility
An action programme supported by
funding to achieve new casualty reduction targets.
A package of measures to tackle car
crime and car consumer fraud by reforming the DVLA and achieving
2000 secured car parks by the end of 2000.
Legislation to curb "cowboy"
wheelclamping on private land.
If motorists are to accept access restrictions
and new charges on the use of their cars, there must be a package
of consumer-focused commitments that meet "Citizens' Charter"
principles, particularly in respect of the operation of roads
and protection against crime and fraud. It is ironic that motorists
are currently the only transport user group where Citizens' Charter
principles are reversedmotorists paying increasing taxes
and charges for declining levels of service.
The government must show its commitment to
giving motorists a new deal by implementing within three years
a package of measures to improve journey-time reliability, safety,
and consumer protection.
The White Paper rightly highlights people's
concern about poor air quality in towns and cities, and the effect
on health. The government's Air Quality Strategy will set out
local action designed to complement measures to improve fuel and
Enormous strides have been made by the motor
manufacturers and the petroleum industry. A new car today produces
less than 5 per cent of the toxic pollution of one manufactured
in the 1970s. Since 1992, the year when the catalytic converter
became mandatory for all new petrol-engined cars, toxic pollution
from cars has been reduced by 26 per cent, despite traffic growth
(AA toxic emissions indices).
Motorists have been willing to accept the additional
cost of purchasingand particularly replacingcatalytic
converters because of the clear benefits, based on sound science,
they bring to the environment (up to 5 per cent of the car's value
can be the catalyst and engine-management systems). All measures
aimed at improving urban air quality must similarly be based on
sound science and public acceptability.
The forecast is that as new generation cleaner
cars replace older generation polluting ones, and with the new
emission standards proposed for 2000 and 2005, toxic emissions
will be at half of today's levels. However, half a million heavy
goods vehicles and buses today produce more particulate pollution
than 23 million cars.
Most towns and cities will be able to meet the
proposed air quality standards because of technological advances,
without the need for restrictions on access. However, the new
technologies depend on good regular vehicle maintenance, and positive,
cost-effective action is needed to drive badly-maintained, grossly-polluting
vehicles off the road.
Testing vehicles' emissions at the roadside
is a positive way of doing this, provided the procedures are perceived
to be fair, popular and effective. However, the government's current
pilot scheme for roadside testing operated by seven local authorities
is not fair and effective. It does not discriminate between those
who know they are polluting and those who have vehicles regularly
serviced, and is proving unnecessarily unpopular for these reasons.
The government must introduce policies that
target real problemsfor example, wilful, anti-social drivers
who drive grossly-polluting vehicles, and operators of ageing,
under-maintained fleets of polluting buses and lorries.
The main focus of this and the previous government's
strategy to stabilise and reduce CO2 emissions has
been to target transport through the fuel-tax escalator. For six
successive budgets, excise duty on motor fuel has been increased
by between five and six per cent above inflation annually.
There have been several effects of this policy.
Motor fuel in the UK is now the most
expensive in Europe85 per cent of the price of a litre
of fuel is now tax and duty.
The cost/benefit analysis of the
policy shows that the cost is equivalent to more than £2,000
for every tonne of carbon saved, which compares most unfavourably
with other energy saving measures.
An additional £8 billion revenue
to the Exchequer from the fuel-tax escalator alone by 2000.
An average increase in motoring costs
of around £50 a year every year for every car-owning family.
A continuous decline in transport
investment despite the enormous additional revenues generated
by the escalator.
The AA has argued that this discredited tax
escalator has had no material effect on the environment. In Germany,
on the other hand, voluntary agreements with the automobile industry
have resulted in reduced emissions from new cars. The recent voluntary
agreement negotiated with the European car industry will also
produce significant reductions in overall fuel consumption from
new cars in the future. These are policies based on sound science,
not opportunist tax raising, and as a result make a striking contribution
to the commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
The cost of motoring is one of the major concerns
of AA members. For most, motoring is their third largest expenditure
(15 per cent) after housing and food (18 per cent). The blunt
instrument of increased motoring taxation hits marginal car-owning
families most, particularly the low-waged, the retired, and those
in rural and suburban areas badly served by public transport.
The government must take note that motorists
will not accept a seventh fuel tax increase above inflation on
discredited environmental claims, and certainly not without every
penny being ring-fenced for transport investment.
The AA welcomes the government's commitment
to set a new road safety target for Great Britain, leading up
to 2010. The AA believes that a challenging, high-level casualty
reduction target, built on the British approach of research and
sound science, will be motivating and achieve significant casualty
The government's commitment to review speed
policy is very much welcomed by the AA. Last year the AA Foundation
for Road Safety Research commissioned Ross Silcock Limited to
review why and when people speed. This major study will be published
next year, and will contribute significantly to the development
of new policies on speed.
But research, sound science, technology, engineering,
enforcement and changes in behaviour can be delivered only with
adequate funding. Road deaths and injuries are a huge cost to
the economy, and they devastate many families. And yet road accidents
are not prioritised in the same way as other causes of premature
death in "Health of the Nation" programmes. The new
road safety targets must, therefore, be underpinned by properly
funded programmes over the next 10 years.
The government must include road traffic
accident reductions in "Health of the Nation" programmes
to ensure this significant cause of premature death and injury
has the long-term funding that will provide high rates of return
through cost-effective casualty savings.
The White Paper highlights the reduction of
crime and fear of crime as a major priority, whenever it occurs
in the transport system. AA research quite clearly shows that
travelling is perceived by many people as being threatening and
dangerous, particularly at night on public transport, when walking,
and in car parks. It is little comfort that, compared with many
millions of journeys made each year, very few people are assaulted.
The AA would like to see a formal strategy developed,
underpinned by partnerships between authorities, transport operators
and the police. The objective must be to alter how people feel
about the risk of travelling. The vision must be that everyone
should feel safe to travel after 10 pm.
The AA has taken initiatives to support the
government in this task, and is represented on the Home Office's
newly created Vehicle Crime Action Team. In addition, the AA administers
the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) Secured Car Park
Scheme; the Prime Minister has set a target of 2000 secured car
parks by the end of 2000.
Fear for personal safety now adversely affects
many lives, and there needs to be an open discussion about the
issue, with positive action implemented.
The government must put fear for personal
security near the top of the transport agenda, and work with all
the relevant agencies and organisations to find solutions and
solve the problems.
There is no alternative to the car for many
of the journeys people make in their daily lives. The White Paper
recognises this, while emphasising the need for policies to help
reduce reliance on the car, with better public transport and improved
conditions to encourage cycling and walking.
Quality bus, coach and train services can not
only compete with the car but thrive on high-volume, high-frequency
corridors such as journeys into town centres.
But if public transport is to compete with the
car, it must be stretched and be re-focused to provide consumer-facing
services that offer a genuine alternative. The 1998 consumer looks
for quality, comfort, safety and security and value-for-money.
People will not switch to second-rate, down-market buses and trains
designed and built for the 1960 user.
There has to be a step change in public transport
provisionmodern vehicles, comfortably warm in the winter,
comfortably cool in the summer; weather-proof shelters with seating;
real-time reliable and accurate information; a strong sense and
feeling of safety and personal security at transport stops and
interchanges; and quality park-and-ride schemes that integrate
the car into public transport services.
The government must develop strategies, partnerships
and funding streams to develop public transport services offering
comfort, quality, reliability and safety, focused totally on the
needs and expectations of users.
This first transport White Paper for 30 years
sets the strategic framework within which transport policies and
investment can be set. The White Paper has signalled the government's
intention to solve Britain's transport problems and to develop
a transport infrastructure and services that are as good as any
The government must build quickly on the goodwill
and the momentum that the White Paper has generated. This means
setting out an action programme covering short, medium and long-term
plans and programmes.
In the short term (0-2 years), launch
urgent action programmes to improve operational management, restore
the condition of assets, and research, plan and access work to
support later stages.
In the medium term (3-5 years), establish
new institutions and funding methods to oversee service delivery,
restore the country's transport assets, and implement scores of
stalled transport packages.
In the long term (5-20 years), plan
changes and major new investment to remould travel patterns and
The key is a reform of transport finance. Without
reformand popular acceptance of itno programme is
deliverable to a timescale that will address increasing road congestion
and declining public transport services.
The government must set out short- medium-
and long-term action programmes with parallel financial plans
showing now that what is promised will be delivered.