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

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100 - 105)



  100. 20 per cent, 30 per cent?
  (Mr Tarr) I have already said my recollection is that it was about 15 per cent of the passenger level of the light rail system. Taking the system in the West Midlands as an example, when the Midland Metro was being built—it is now open this last year—when that was first proposed I can remember a very senior civil servant quizzing me as to whether or not the West Midlands was proposing just to build one line of this light rail system. I was very keen to be able to say, no it was not proposing to build only one line. At the time, even though the Government did not say that they would even back that line, they clearly were doing some thinking in the Department of Transport and saying, "Well obviously you do not build one line, do you?" The fact is, unfortunately, at the moment that is all that has been built and it is not exactly clear what other lines will get built.

  101. I do not want to leave more confused than when I came in, did I understand you to say correctly that in the scheme you were directly involved in in the West Midlands, it was thought in the planning, in the business case, if you like, that something like 15 per cent of passengers would come from cars?
  (Mr Tarr) That is my recollection.

  102. A ball-park figure. What I asked is, in that business case submission what sort of ball-park percentage figure did you have to show that would be transferred from other public transport modes onto that system?
  (Mr Tarr) The appraisal system does not work by saying that there has to be a certain percentage. The Section 56 justification process works on the basis of actually establishing what the level of social cost benefits are generated by the scheme and comparing those with the cost of the scheme.

  103. Am I then correct in assuming that you had no idea how many people were going to be dislodged from previous public transport?
  (Mr Tarr) I have already said that there was a view taken, on the basis of detailed surveys and so forth, as to what the patronage would be on the light rail system and where that patronage would come from.

  104. About 15 per cent from private cars. How many, therefore, I repeat my question, did the assessment indicate would come from existing public transport?
  (Mr Tarr) A large proportion of the total.

  Chairman: 20 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent? We are going round in circles. Mr Taplin, you must have experience of Section 56 details, not giving us word for word every single bit. Could you give the Committee a little assessment of the kind of formula that you have experienced, so that we can at least get some idea of the percentages? We are not going to hold you to it. I promise you when we put you in the Tower it will not be for this reason. If you could give us an indication, that would be helpful.

  Mr Stevenson: The very last question, if we try to understand the transfer of passenger mode, clearly if you are transferring, in the majority, from current public transport mode then by definition that has severe implications. Could I then go on to funding, you have touched on this, Government are saying, "Produce your plans, congestion charging, workplace charging, and so on. Hypothecate the funds and use that to improve public transport." That is the general message. Alternatives are public transport modes, some more expensive than others. Have you come to a judgment, as an organisation, on even the largest area of accommodation—they do vary—from this down to the little village island in Stoke-on-Trent, which is a quarter of a million population? Do you think that that is feasible? Do you think enough money can be raised in that way to produce the sort of alternate public transport system that would be attractive, particularly the ones you are interested in? Secondly, if so, do you think the Government should consider putting that money upfront on the basis of future incomes?


  105. I think we would like some thought about that. If you want, you can give us a supplementary note. It is one of the answers we would like to know. We would like a formula, if you can give us percentages that would help. We would also like to know whether you think that provision up front would make a difference and whether the sort of answers that Mr Stevenson is after are available.
  (Mr Tarr) If I can answer that very quickly. In the conclusions in our response to you we said that is one of the key things, that there must be the investment up front, not least because we feel that the public will not accept the imposition of congestion charges before public transport gets much better.

  Chairman: I think the Committee has already reached that conclusion. It is always tactful to agree with us rather than disagree with us. Thank you very much, Mr Taplin, for bringing your troops. We hope to hear from you.

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