Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Manchester City Council (IT 181)


  Manchester City Council welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Select Committee's Inquiry into the Government's emerging integrated transport strategy, and the White Paper on the Future of Transport—A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone, published in July 1998.


  1.1 Manchester City Council supports the Government's initiatives to develop a transport strategy which emphasises the role of public transport in forming part of the solution to the Nation's transport problems and which is fully integrated with all other aspects of social, economic and environmental policy. The City Council believes that creating an integrated and efficient transport system is a core element of ensuring the ongoing economic growth of the City. Moreover, reducing the negative impact of the car and introducing a high quality public transport system will lead to improvements in the general quality of the environment and the quality of life of our residents.

  1.2 The City Council is committed to working with neighbouring authorities, GMPTA/E, private sector partners and local residents to develop a more sustainable transport system in which the needs of the City's residents, workers, investors and visitors are given priority. The White Paper has assisted us in developing a strategy to realise this aim. We have developed the Greater Manchester Integrated Project, under which a number of initiatives are being progressed to integrate the services of different bus, train and tram operators into a quality public transport network. We have also formed an innovative Quality Bus Partnership in the City. The White Paper raises a number of issues which have important implications for Manchester City Council, and the main points we would like the inquiry to consider are set out below.


  2.1 The priorities of Manchester City Council are to achieve urban regeneration, greater social inclusion and environmental improvement, thereby making the City a more attractive place in which to live, work and invest. The Council has traditionally viewed transport as a means to this end, rather than an end in itself—emphasis is given to developing a vibrant economy, a strong City Centre, vital district centres and to providing for the growth of Manchester Airport. The City contains a number of areas suffering from severe multiple deprivation, which require comprehensive and concerted action across all sectors and by a wide range of partners. It is recognised that a modern, efficient transport network is critical to achieving our priorities, and in parallel with this is the need to provide adequate transport facilities for those who do not have access to a car.

  2.2 Manchester needs a transport system which is able to support the many activities which exist within it, and which enhances rather than detracts from the City's competitiveness. Currently, 60 per cent of trips to Manchester City Centre are made by car and 40 per cent by public transport. The Integrated Transport Strategy for the City Centre developed by Manchester Millennium Ltd., as part of the reconstruction programme following the 1996 bomb explosion, aims to achieve a 50:50 modal split. This is dependent upon improvements to the bus and Metrolink infrastructure (supported by the AGMA/GMPTE Integration Partnership) and completion of the Inner Relief Route; it will also involve major works to the public realm to improve the pedestrian environment and the centre's overall accessibility. In terms of the "carrot versus the stick" argument, the White Paper recognises that neither carrots nor sticks will work in isolation and that a package of measures will be needed, with the precise balance being dependent upon local circumstances. We would suggest to the Government that a significant modal shift from private car use will not take place until attractive public transport alternatives are put in place.

  2.3 The White Paper is to set a helpful framework for change, and the City Council recognises that finance and legislative time is "strictly limited". The increased scope for local authorities to develop sustainable transport policies and initiatives is welcome, but the City Council considers that this work would be greatly assisted if a number of proposals in the White Paper were to be the subject of legislation at the earliest opportunity. In particular, the City Council would like to see early legislation to bring the Strategic Rail Authority into being and to enable local authorities to have greater control over the bus network through the suggested Quality Contracts and, possibly, through some kind of wider economic regulatory framework if necessary.

  2.4 The draft guidance on Local Transport Plans, and indeed the White Paper itself, encourage integration of transport policies with land use planning and other local policies and programmes. The City Council sees an important role for strategic planning in reducing the overall need to travel and in reducing journey lengths. The City Council has achieved considerable success in promoting mixed use developments as part of its urban regeneration initiatives and over recent years there has been a very welcome growth in the amount of residential use within or close to the City Centre. There is a great potential for more mixed use development within Manchester and other major cities, and this can play an important part in reducing overall travel demands by providing a range of activities close to where people live and close to existing public transport infrastructure.

  2.5 The link between transport policies and strategies to improve health are recognised in our plans and our programme of local safety schemes, street lighting, cycle schemes and pedestrian measures will encourage more people to walk or cycle. The City Council has adopted a hierarchy of road users, to ensure that in the consideration of new transport projects, the highest priority is given to the needs of pedestrians and disabled people, followed in order by those of cyclists, public transport users and those wishing to gain access to the City's facilities. Improving air quality is an intrinsic element of the strategy, and the Council is particularly concerned to tackle the "school run", which is a major source of traffic congestion and pollution in local areas, and is making streets more threatening to pedestrians and cyclists. Initiatives such as Safe Routes to Schools are being piloted in the City's regeneration areas, to complement other initiatives to overcome social exclusion.


  3.1 The City Council has long held the view that whilst the Package Approach enabled Greater Manchester Authorities to look strategically at transport planning, a persistent problem has been that whilst our strategies have necessarily been long-term, funding from Government has been given on an annual basis and it carried no guarantees of continuity. The Government has now addressed the issue, and the fact that the proposed Local Transport Plans will eventually allocate resources on a five year basis is welcomed. Other than major eligible transport schemes (and all schemes funded with PFI credits), LTPs will however be funded through a single block of credit approvals. While individual SSAs are intended to account for the extra borrowing, there is a lack of transparency in the way that this is done.

  3.2 The new system should give greater certainty of funding once the full plans are in place (for 2000-01 to 2005-06) and the City Council, together with GMPTA/E, support this longer time horizon as encouraging sustainable transport policies and programmes. While the City Council share the Government's desire to see a single LTP for Greater Manchester, we consider that the Government should recognise the complexity of this task, and the need for the Plan to be flexible enough to have careful regard to the priorities of the respective local authorities, both in terms of strategic planning and spending allocations.

  3.3 The Comprehensive Spending Review in July 1998 increased the level of resources for transport capital funding over 1999-2000 levels by 15 per cent in 2000-01 and 61 per cent in 2001-02, and this will help redress the under-funding of previous years. The City Council would urge the Government to endeavour to ensure that funding to local authorities will be sufficient to enable them to deliver effective transport policies, particularly to improve public transport, through the LTP process.

  3.4 The Government's Trunk Roads Review was published after the White Paper on the Future of Transport, and this proposed the de-trunking of a significant number of existing roads, as well as a paring down of the national road programme. The City Council has welcomed the proposals, as a means of discouraging an increase in car traffic, of providing savings to fund enhanced trunk road maintenance and of supporting devolved decision making with regard to road proposals. Local authorities will bear additional revenue consequences on their budgets as a consequence of de-trunking, and the City Council wishes to seek assurance from the Government that these will be offset by balanced distribution of capital expenditure savings. The City Council would also look to see the resources saved from the Greater Manchester and North West Roads Programme being diverted to support much needed public transport investment in the conurbation.


  4.1 The White Paper encourages local authorities to give buses greater priority, and to build on Quality Partnerships, as improvements to the quality and reliability of bus services are a cost-effective means to increase use of public transport. Manchester City Council supports this approach, and bus quality initiatives not only underpin the Greater Manchester Integrate Project, but also contribute to the City Centre Integrated Transport Strategy and local regeneration programmes.

  4.2 The City Council is concerned, however, that local authorities and PTAs spend very considerable amounts on supporting the bus industry, but lack effective control over the delivery of services. There is a need for economic regulation, to tackle monopoly issues and thereby enable local authorities to work as equal partners with bus operators and develop stable bus networks that deliver value for money. Without a clearer regulatory framework it is very difficult for local authorities and PTAs to ensure that resources being devoted to supporting the bus network represent "Best Value".


  5.1 Locally, GMPTA has agreed that there is an urgent need to review the way in which it pays for public transport. The context for the proposed review is that of the substantial revenue funds paid by the Authority each year, the majority is used to pay for services which are provided by others or in reimbursing operators in respect of revenue foregone as a result of participating in the Authority's concessionary fare scheme. This review will complement and reflect the wider review of local transport expenditure being carried out by the Audit Commission, which is expected to be published in the Spring and is likely to call on transport authorities to ensure that they are achieving best value in respect to the services which they provide and procure.

  5.2 The review will aim to underpin and help deliver White Paper objectives, in terms of bringing stability and clarity to the bus network and enhancing the competitiveness of operators. The PTA will carry out research into travel patterns, to ensure that resources are being utilised to best effect in delivering social and economic regeneration objectives. The City Council supports this review, and considers that by achieving greater transparency and maximising the value obtained from existing resources the review should assist the process of developing effective Local Transport Plans.


  6.1 The White Paper raises fundamental issues about the role to be played by pricing and taxation policies and regulation in developing an integrated transport system. The City Council believes that decisions regarding such issues can only be taken at national level, and that the Government needs to recognise that policy decisions must be seen to be equitable, both socially and geographically. Transport policies and forms of regulation employed must be complementary, and should aim to create a level playing field.

  6.2 Proposals in the White Paper, to grant local authorities powers to levy road user and workplace parking charges have now been developed further in the consultation paper, Breaking the Logjam. It is clear from that paper that in the desire to mitigate the negative effects of increased car use, metropolitan areas are at the forefront of Government thinking and will be targeted for pilot initiatives relating to such charges. The Council also, however, remains of the view that the priority for metropolitan areas is to progress modern and attractive transport systems which give people an effective choice in the mode of transport used. Manchester Metrolink is a prime example of such a system. The City Council considers that it is only when attractive public transport facilities are in place that widespread restraint measures can realistically be contemplated. Even then they can only be carried out on the basis of a level playing field in a regional and national context.

  6.3 The City Council is particularly concerned that restraint measures do not concentrate unduly on targeting work trips to the City Centre or other town centres, and do not work counter to the City Council's—and indeed the Government's—social and economic regeneration initiatives. Evidence from surveys undertaken in Greater Manchester in 1991 indicated that only 4 per cent of all car journeys in Greater Manchester had an origin or destination in the City Centre and the figure for the other major centres in the conurbation is 9 per cent. Ninety per cent of the growth in car trips which occurred between 1976 and 1991 was for journeys which were not made to or from a town or city centre, and the completion of large out-of-town retail and leisure developments since will not have helped reverse that trend. The City Council regrets the decision of the Government not to enable local authorities to levy non-workplace parking charges and considers that developing restraint mechanisms for non-work journeys and journeys to and from non central locations should be a consideration for the Government. There is a real potential that road user or workplace parking charges will be imposed only in town or city centres and that this will work against the relative competitiveness and attractiveness of these centres—to the detriment of sustainable city centres and to the advantage of unsustainable out-of-town centres. Investment and activity would be encouraged in locations that are most dependent upon car use.

  6.4 The Government has proposed that the revenue raised from pilot road user and workplace parking charges will be retained by the relevant local authorities for ten years, but that revenue raised from any future schemes would be transferred to a central Consolidation Fund, which would be redistributed by the DETR to local authorities. Manchester City Council would urge the Government, with respect to this proposal, to reinforce its commitment to devolved decision making, and to clarify whether and to what extent local authorities who initiate new revenue raising schemes will be able to set budgets for transport spending, incorporating additional funds, in their Local Transport Plans. It is important that revenue raised through transport-related charges is reinvested locally, to ensure public and political support for change, particularly the introduction of restraint measures against the use of the private car.

  6.5 The City Council also believes that consideration of traffic restraint measures should not exclude freight transport. The White Paper encourages an increase in the use of non road, particularly rail freight, and the City Council notes that a "daughter document" on Freight Policy and Sustainable Distribution is forthcoming. The Council would wish this paper to explore issues of how growth in freight transport can be managed, how to achieve a modal shift from road to rail and how to effectively limit the impact of heavy lorries on the environment of urban areas. People rather than vehicles must be at the top of any user hierarchy and lower priority in particular should be given to goods vehicles. Positive restraints on their use, such as time restrictions for deliveries, need to be considered, particularly in urban areas. Manchester City Council actively promotes such a policy, not least to benefit pedestrian friendly environments in the city and district centres.


  7.1 The Manchester Metrolink system has demonstrated the effectiveness of a high quality, attractive, frequent and affordable public transport service in persuading car users to switch mode. The Bury and Altrincham Metrolink lines have reduced traffic by up to 10 per cent along the routes served, and it is estimated that the extension to Eccles, now under construction, will take approximately one million car journeys off the road. Expansion of Metrolink remains a key priority for the City Council, for GMPTA and for the other Greater Manchester Authorities—not simply in transport terms but also because the system can underpin wider regeneration objectives.

  7.2 The Oldham/Rochdale of the Metrolink system remains the top priority for the PTA and AGMA, and this has been the subject of both a Section 56 application in July 1998 and a submission of an Outline Business Case in September 1998 to DETR. It is considered, however, that there are financial, economic, regenerational and tactical benefits of pursuing the completion of the whole approved Metrolink network as a Single Contract, involving also the completion of the extensions to Ashton, past the Commonwealth Games site, and the Airport. A submission to the Treasury's Capital Modernisation Fund has been made on this basis.


  8.1 The draft guidance on Local Transport Plans restates the Government's view that awareness campaigns can increase recognition that there is a need to reduce the negative impacts of car use. Local authorities are expected to develop strategies to take this agenda forward at local level. The process of preparing LTPs is to include active public participation, to ensure local support for proposed initiatives and to help authorities raise travel awareness. Manchester City Council welcomes this inclusive approach to policy development and consider that campaigns to promote public transport are relevant and important. AGMA will be launching a Green Commuter Guide in 1999, to help businesses in the conurbation draw up strategies for sustainable journeys to and from work by their employees.

  8.2 Research commissioned by AGMA on the applicability of a "Travel Awareness" campaign to Greater Manchester, however, has reinforced the view of the City Council that encouraging modal shift will be very difficult without high quality and attractive public transport alternatives already being in place. The research suggested that although attitude change must pre-empt behavioural change, attitudes themselves are influenced by the quality and choice of public transport services.


  9.1 The White Paper emphasises, and the City Council agrees, that ensuring public safety and accessibility for all, both on public transport vehicles and at facilities such as bus and rail stations is important if people are to perceive public transport as a viable alternative to the private car. Achieving high standards of safety and accessibility are high priorities both for the City Centre Integrated Transport Strategy and the Greater Manchester Integration Project.


  10.1 In conclusion, the City Council welcomes the White Paper and the greater emphasis on the need for integration which it contains. It believes that it is vital that transport policy is looked at in the context of economic and urban regeneration objectives and should be seen as being a contributor to these wider aims. Manchester City Council would wish to see these important links being given greater emphasis in the forthcoming Urban White Paper.

February 1999

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