Memorandum by the Institution of Highways
and Transportation (IT 24)
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER
The Government's White Paper, A New Deal
for Transport: Better for Everyone, is welcomed by the Institution
of Highways and Transportation. It is the first document for many
years which recognises the scale of the problems to be faced and
the vital importance of comprehensive and integrated land-use
and transport planning. Three radical changes have been proposed:
congestion charging and workplace parking taxation; Quality Bus
Partnerships; and the commitment to a comprehensive spending review.
The IHT recognises that the White Paper sets the scene for many
years to come in and supports its aspirations. The Institution
is pleased to see that many of its recommendations previously
made in response to the consultation process in 1997 have been
accepted. The following comments highlight some of the potential
obstacles to progress in implementing the proposals contained
in the White Paper.
The overall goal must be to move progressively
towards a sustainable integrated transport system: this will present
many challenges for practitioners. Equally it presents many opportunities
to develop innovative solutions in consultation with a broad range
of providers and the public. The public has become used to an
unrestricted, albeit progressively more congested, highway network.
This is the major challenge which requires great political will
to address. Nothing short of a culture change by the travelling
public is needed to ensure any significant degree of success.
The deteriorating physical condition of parts of the network is
another major challenge.
In the longer term there is the possibility
of increased funding, but in the short term any progress will
depend upon the creativity and innovative capacity of transport
professionals. It must be clearly understood that doing nothing
is not an option if we are to redress some of the damaging environmental
consequences of forecast traffic growth. A lack of funding must
not be used as an excuse for inaction. Because some of the necessary
legislation may take several years to pass, it is important to
identify the steps which can be taken ahead of legislation.
2. TRANSPORT INVESTMENT
Restraining the growth of road transport must
form an integral part of the overall strategy. Substantial investment
in the road network is needed, however successfully traffic is
restrained, as well as significant additional investment for the
alternatives to car-use. There is a consensus view that investment
in transport infrastructure in the UK needs to be increased by
50 per cent a year for several years.
Indications from the Comprehensive Spending
Review (CSR) are disappointing: over the next three years
capital spending will increase by about 25 per cent, which is
barely equal to the recent decline. In real terms, while monitoring
taxation has increased steadily, public expenditure on land transport
has continued to decline.
However, a much more optimistic position is
outlined in the CSR, once the impact of private finance and the
new revenue streams are allowed for from congestion charging etc.,
are fully hypothecated to the transport budget. If this happens
the CSR estimates that by 2005-06 a total figure of some £8
billion could be available.
3. FUNDING SOURCES
Tackling some of the major problems in the longer
term will require the development of new sources of funding using
the charging mechanisms identified in the White Paper. To implement
these will need considerable political courage, since the initial
outcomes may appear to be counterproductive. A reform of charging
regimes, combined with additional investment, will make matters
better for everyone, including car-users, not for everyone else
at the expense of car-users. The White Paper indicates that the
Treasury has accepted the principle of hypothecation whereby additional
funds raised are retained for use within the transport budget.
Practitioners and local politicians will need to be assured that
such funding will be additional to current central government
It is regrettable that the legislation for the
implementation of private non-residential parking, congestion
charging and motorway tolling is likely to be delayed. The IHT
is also concerned that there is an exemption from charges for
parking at out of town shopping centres. This will exacerbate
many of the current problems faced by urban centres and as such
requires further consideration.
Congestion charging may not be widely applicable
other than in large urban areas. If this is so, the social exclusion
resulting from inadequate public transport in rural and smaller
urban areas will continue because of the lack of available funding.
There is also the possibility that local politicians
may use new sources of funding for other hard pressed programme
areas and it will be necessary to ensure there are adequate controls
to prevent this.
Parliament should be encouraged to find time
to enact the necessary legislation, but even if this proves impossible
in the near future, much an be achieved under existing powers
supported by Government decisions. Much progress can be made in
delivering more sustainable and integrated transport by local
action. For example, promotional schemes, such as Safe Routes
to School and Quality Bus Partnerships, as well as engineering
measures such as traffic calming and local safety schemes, can
Other actions include directions to regulators,
local authorities and others changes in standards, orders made
in Parliament, changes to planning guidance, decisions on authority
funding, etc. Where positive experience can be seen this could
be used as an illustration of best practice to stimulate other,
less innovative, authorities.
Much greater compliance with road traffic law
is essential, especially where this will enhance safety and reduce
environmental damage. Hypothecation of income from fines to the
transport budget would provide a useful source of funds.
5. ROLE OF
The Government has devolved the major responsibility
for developing the consultation and planning framework and preparing
Local Transport Plans (LTPs) to local authorities. The IHT welcomes
the introduction of five year LTP's as a mechanism for delivery.
While many authorities will welcome this responsibility, others
will not as they will not have the capacity, either financial
or technical, to address the problems.
Local authorities will need support and time
to develop LTPs and this requires a degree of stability. The recent
announcement that one third of the members of each authority are
to offer themselves for election each year will not help. To address
local transport problems will need robust political will and support
from the public.
Another significant problem is the number of
bodies with responsibilities for transport. There is a lack of
clarity of responsibility between them, which needs resolution.
Coherent co-ordinated approaches between local authorities are
also needed, especially if workplace-parking charges are to be
introduced. Fragmentation of responsibility will impede the development
of co-ordinated network management and consistent approaches to
transportation management. Regional bodies must have adequate
powers to overcome such problems.
6. LACK OF
The IHT believes that there is a lack of skilled
professionals in all areas of the transport sector. This is an
issue which must be addressed with some priority, to ensure that
significant professional and technical expertise is available
for planning, developing and maintaining the nation's infrastructure.
Development of specialist maintenance experience
must be seen as a priority. There is also the need to develop
a greater degree of professionalism in this subject to ensure
that the correct economic regimes are formulated and delivered.
As the White Paper acknowledges, integrated
land-use and transport planning has much to contribute. The IHT's
guidelines Planning for Public Transport in Developments identify
the need to apply three principles: locate developments where
they can best be served by public transport; ensure that the layout
of developments favours public transport; and ensure that the
detailed design satisfies the requirements of public transport
users. All new developments, as well as those undergoing redevelopment,
should be subject to a transport impact assessment (based on the
principles contained in the IHT's guidelines on Traffic Impact
Analysis and Planning for Public Transport in Developments).
Guidance intended to supplement the White Paper
must support its aims. For example, a draft of Places, Streets
and Movement could lead to developments which are fundamentally
unsuitable for bus operations.
8. PROVIDING FOR
Providing better facilities for pedestrians
an cyclists (along with public transport improvements) must be
central to all LTP's. The principles to be followed must be traffic
reduction; speed reduction; junction improvement; the reallocation
of road space; and dedicated facilities. Despite being substantially
ignored and in some cases discriminated against, walking and cycling
are the two most sustainable modes of transport available. The
IHT welcomes the greater emphasis being given to improving provision
for these groups. The IHT's series of guidelines (Cycle-Friendly
Infrastructure, Cycle Audit and Cycle Review, and Providing
for Journeys on Foot [forthcoming]) will assist practitioners
to develop high quality infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
As the IHT's guidelines Reducing Mobility Handicaps points
out that designing for those with mobility impairments will help
9. BUS AND
With some justification the White Paper is hesitant
about light rail due to the high costs of investment. Light rail,
however, can be used with great success in areas where the layout
and topography is appropriate.
For buses to become the major component of the
collective transport system, as the White Paper envisages, service
levels and quality will both need to improve substantially. Quality
Bus Partnerships are the best way forward and are critical to
achieving modal shift. Legislation must not be delayed. Many of
the present pollution problems from the noise and fumes of diesel
engines must also be addressed. This is essential for improving
10. TRANSPORT OF
Whilst there is a good case for redirecting
significant tonnage of freight from road to rail, in urban areas
the scope for delivery of goods to the point of sale by means
other than road is limited. The growing use by industry of "Just
in Time" deliveries increases freight traffic. Local distribution
centres are being replaced by fewer and larger regional centres,
resulting in longer delivery journeys.
Unless there are weight or size restrictions,
HGV's generally have right of access to the entire road network.
This is an issue that requires examination. In parallel with the
development of the national truck road network, consideration
should be given to defining and developing a limited network where
HGV's are permitted. The clear implication is that HGV's would
notunless there were special circumstances or permitsbe
allowed anywhere else on the network, except for local access.
The progressive development of combined multi-modal
(rail/lorry) movement is essential and could be linked with the
development of restricted access conceptsespecially in
Permitting HGV's to use bus-only lanes as priority
movements of high economic value should be considered for further
development. It is understood that trials on certain of the "Red
Routes" in London have been successful.
11. MAINTENANCE AND
It is vital to ensure that the maintenance and
management of the highway network is approached from rigorous
economic principles. A comprehensive review of the present standards
of maintenance is needed. Present standards were developed many
years ago when investigation was much less detailed and sophisticated.
The IHT recommends that all roads in a network are placed in a
clear hierarchy and that levels of serviceability (standards/condition)
defined for each.
The House of Commons Transport Committee report
on road and bridge maintenance showed an overwhelming case that
spending was insufficient. It also indicated that future levels
of spending will also be too low and urged central and local government
to attach much greater importance to road maintenance. The IHT
welcomes the support for this within the White Paper but are disappointed
that additional resources do not appear to be likely to be made
The continuing wasting of the highway asset,
one of the country's more significant investments in infrastructure,
is to be deplored. As the White Paper states "skimping
on maintenance wastes money". Deferral does not make
any economic sense. Delay in repair will incur progressively greater
costs. As the highway condition deteriorates, the funding required
increases at an exponential rather linear rate. Remedying this
accumulated neglect will require innovative external funding an
consideration should be given to the use of PFI concepts. Largely
as a result of liability claims (and underfunding) local authorities
have shifted from planned to unplanned maintenance.
The New Roads and Streetworks Act 1990 should
be urgently re-examined. Implementation has been fraught with
problems and is not generally regarded as being successful. Unpublished
research by the Transport Research Laboratory has confirmed that
the existing specification and associated work practices do not
restore repaired roads to their original structural condition:
effectively every reinstatement is a weakening of the fabric.
The reinstatement specification needs a substantial
overhaul, and consideration should be given to a lane rental charge
when a possession is taken of any section of the highway by any
utility or other body. Consideration should also be given to a
charge for utility apparatus within the highway. Progress in these
areas could generate significant benefit at no direct cost.
While dealing comprehensively with urban areas,
the White Paper pays little attention to inter-urban travel. Revised
forecasts of the growth of inter-urban traffic are needed, taking
account of targets for the transfer of freight and passenger traffic
to rail as well as the operational advantages of telematics and
trip suppression. The de-trunking of certain trunk roads must
not lead to decline in their maintenance. The DETR should set
a level of service for users of the Strategic Road Network.
The IHT welcomes the White Paper as the basis
for developing transport policy for the 21st Century. Whilst disappointment
must be expressed about the possibilities of delays to legislation
and the possible lack of adequate funding, there is much which
can be done in the short term to moderate of forecast traffic
It must be recognised, however, that achieving
significant modal shift will be difficult; private car-use will
remain the choice for significant number of journeys. It is therefore
essential that our current highway network is adequately maintained.
The White Paper seeks to make things "better
for everyone". The IHT will be delighted to assist in
ensuring that the principles espoused in the White Paper are turned
23 September 1998