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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to what extent he estimates the Mayor of London's proposals for congestion charging will contribute to the delivery of the public services agreement targets to reduce congestion in large urban areas in England. 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: My Department's forecasting work for the 10-year plan assumed that a central London road user charging scheme would be introduced as part of the plan. The impact of individual schemes was not assessed.
While congestion reduction benefits of road user charging schemes may be significant at the local level in specific urban centres, they are likely to be small within the context of total traffic volumes, and hence the national congestion target, in England as a whole.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how he plans to take forward his responsibility for delivering the Public Services Agreement to reduce congestion in London to below 2000 levels by 2010. 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The Public Service Agreement target relates to large urban areas, including London. The Mayor of London's Transport Strategy and Transport for London's Business Plan set out measures which are designed to tackle congestion. We shall monitor the delivery of them and their impact on congestion and from time to time we shall review the situation with the Mayor.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will make a statement on progress towards the target of a 15 per cent. reduction in traffic congestion across London, as given in the 10-year plan; 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: There is a Public Service Agreement target to reduce road congestion in large urban areas below 2000 levels by 2010. The 10-year plan listed the 15 per cent. reduction in traffic congestion across London among a number of possible outcomes for transport in London which could be delivered over the life of the plan, but the plan made it clear that the Mayor was responsible for specific priorities. The Mayor's Transport Strategy and Transport for London's Business Plan indicate these priorities. We shall monitor the delivery of them and their impact on congestion and from time to time we shall review the situation with the Mayor.
24 Jul 2002 : Column 1256W
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the benchmarks are for (a) rail punctuality, (b) rail reliability and (c) rail use against which the PSA targets for transport contained in the 2002 Spending Review are set. 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The benchmark year is 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001, against which we will measure the PSA target to increase rail use, while at the same time securing improvements in rail punctuality and reliability.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the level of overcrowding on London trains; and if he will give the benchmark against which he will judge the target of reducing overcrowding to meet the SRA standards by 2010, as indicated in annex 2 of the 10-year plan. 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The Strategic Rail Authority publishes overcrowding statistics on an annual basis. The most recent information was published on 6 June 2002 in the Authority's "On Track" publication. Overcrowding in London is controlled by the Authority's "Passengers In Excess of Capacity" (PIXC) mechanism.
The Department plans to use the national transport model to provide congestion benchmark profiles for different areas and reflecting different needs. Publication will follow once we are satisfied this information will be helpful to local authorities in planning how to tackle local congestion.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made as to (a) the current level and (b) the level as at July 2000 of maintenance backlog for (i) local roads, (ii) bridges and (iii) lighting. 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The maintenance backlogs on local roads in England in 2000 were estimated at £2 billion for carriageways and footways, £750 million for bridges and retaining walls, and £1 billion for street lighting. Estimates of the current backlogs will depend upon data that is being collated at present.
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Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice his Department issues to the Highways Agency with regard to the (a) phasing of roadworks and (b) timing of verge grass cutting. 
Mr. Spellar: In line with Road User's Charter targets, the Highways Agency is tasked with ensuring that a minimum of 90 per cent. of works carried out during a year are no more than 2.5 miles long and are at least six miles apart.
The guidelines for verge grass cutting are set out in the Agency's Trunk Road Maintenance Manual. This sets out minimum standards. Higher standards may be used at particular locations for, for example, safety or environmental reasons.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many (a) passenger journeys on buses and (b) bus trips per person per year there were in each of the last three years for which figures are available; 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The Department collects details of passenger journeys on local bus services as part of the annual public service vehicle operators' survey. We do not at present collect information on passenger journeys on other types of bus service.
DfT annual survey of Public Service Vehicle operators.
DfT National Travel Survey. (Three year averages. Excludes trips made by non-householders, for example, tourists and students).
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, (1) pursuant to his answer of 2 July 2002, Official Report, column 205W, on bus priority schemes, how many routes were operated by guided buses as part of the London bus initiative in each of the last three years; and what the average level of Government funding was for each route; 
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Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The London Bus Initiative (LBI) is a matter for the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL). I understand from TfL that improvements are specifically tailored to each route but could include:
Improved safety measures;
New bus priority measures;
Improved customer information systems;
Passenger waiting environments;
Enforcement of bus lanes and other bus stop infringements.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will make a statement on progress towards the output of (a) improved bus frequencies, (b) enhanced off-peak and (c) enhanced night bus services in London as part of the 10-Year-Plan; 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: The 10-Year-Plan indicated a number of possible outcomes for transport in London which could be delivered over the life of the Plan, while making clear that the Mayor was responsible for specific priorities. In respect of improvements to bus services in London, we shall monitor delivery and from time to time we shall review the situation with the Mayor.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 10 July 2002, Official Report, column 976W, on bus services, against what benchmark he will judge whether his Department is meeting its public service agreement to secure improvements in bus punctuality. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the accessibility indicator (households within 13 minutes walk of a bus stop with a service frequency at least once an hour was for (a) small urban areas three to 25k, (b) small urban areas three to 10k, (c) small urban areas 10 to 25k, (d) median urban areas, (e) large urban areas, (f) metropolitan built-up areas and (g) London boroughs in each of the latest three years for which figures are available. 
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|(a) small urban areas 325k||79||76||75|
|(b) small urban areas 310k||69||66||63|
|(c) small urban areas 1025k||88||85||87|
|(d) medium urban areas 25250k||95||96||96|
|(e) large urban areas over 250k||98||98||97|
|(f) metropolitan built-up areas||99||99||98|
|(g) London boroughs||98||98||98|
In 199899 we introduced new funding to improve accessibility to bus services in all rural areas. Since that year, Rural Bus Subsidy Grant has supported 1,800 new or improved bus services in rural England. The grant was extended in 200102 to cover all areas outside towns with a population of 25,000 or more and has now been increased to £47.5 million this financial year. In addition, we are now supporting over 200 rural transport projects under the Rural Bus Challenge scheme, which was also first introduced in 199899.The source is the National Travel Survey and normally three years of data are aggregated. However, the sample numbers for rural areas were exceptionally low for 2000, casting doubts on the validity of using the data for that year within the indicator. To provide consistency across areas, the average for 1998 and 1999 has been used instead of the average for the three years 19982000, as previously published. Figures for the average of 1999 and 2001 will be published when the results for 2001 are released on 25 July.
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 July 2002]: Bus services in London are the responsibility of the Mayor and Transport "for" London (TfL), and my Department does not routinely collect this information. However, I understand from TfL that there are currently 322 high frequency routes (every 12 minutes or better) and 185 low frequency routes. These exclude school routes, mobility services and night services. Figures for previous years are not available.
Bus service frequencies are planned by TfL to allow the majority of passengers to use the network on a "turn-up-and-go" basis, with as many routes as possible running every 12 minutes or better. In general, service frequencies will not fall below hourly, including night services where applicable.
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