Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
WEDNESDAY 12 JANUARY 2000
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 builtit is now open this
last yearwhen 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
(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
(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
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 accommodationthey do varyfrom 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.