Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Eighth Report


120. The Plan contains details of the number of road, rail and local transport schemes that could be implemented to achieve the objectives of reducing congestion and pollution (known as outputs). For example, the strategic road network programme could deliver 360 miles of widening of the network, 80 new major trunk road schemes, 100 new bypasses, 130 major local road improvement schemes and 60 per cent of the network given lower noise surfaces. The estimated programme of new schemes was used as the input to the Department's traffic model to produce forecast changes in congestion, pollution and public transport use that is expected to effect by the Plan in 2010. Those forecasts have been used as the basis for targets in the Plan and are supplemented by further targets in areas including safety, passenger satisfaction and reliability. The following section summarises our assessment of progress towards the outputs promised in the Plan, and our analysis of the suitability of the target, and progress towards the targets set for 2010.

Assessing Progress on Projects

121. The Department does not currently envisage altering the targets or objectives on the Plan.[272] The Secretary of State told the Sub-Committee that it was still "very early days" but that he was confident that the Government was on track to meet the Plan's "ambitious and challenging targets".[273] The Committee found it difficult to establish the basis on which progress was being measured. Mr Rickett told us that the Department had been "trying to develop a sort of baseline set of assumptions about the delivery of projects under the Plan" against which to measure the progress of local authorities and other agencies.[274] Only the Highways Agency had a detailed implementation plan against which progress had been assessed.[275] While local authorities are required to produce annual monitoring reports, the Department has only now begun to establish a system for comparing performance amongst Local Transport Plans.[276] At the time of the Plan's launch in July 2000, the Department published a list of measures that it expected to have achieved for each year of the Plan.[277] The list will be updated as part of the Plan's review. However, to assist in our assessment of performance to date, the Sub-Committee requested a progress report for the period to 2002.[278] Our assessment of progress towards the targets is shown in Annex A.

122. It is not too early to assess progress and make changes to the Plan. The long lead-in times for major projects make the early assessment of progress imperative. With the exception of the strategic road network, most of the projects put forward in July 2000 are already behind schedule, including studies to bring forward new projects for the Plan. A detailed programme of works must be set out in the forthcoming review of the Plan, against which progress can be properly, consistently and publicly assessed.

Assessing Progress against Targets

123. Almost all of the targets in the 10 Year Plan relate to 2010.[279] That not only reflects the Plan's time period, but is also the result of the Department examining only a 2010 scenario in its transport model. The lack of interim targets has made it impossible to assess the progress of the Department towards the 2010 objectives.

124. Transport problems in the UK are likely to get worse before they get better.[280] Many of the larger schemes that will be implemented are towards the end of the Plan period. It may therefore be tempting to avoid producing interim targets that will have to reflect deterioration or only limited improvements. However, such an approach is short-sighted and will not enable the Department to assess when policy changes are required. The 2002 cycling target was simply abandoned when little progress was made towards it. It is unacceptable that the same situation could arise in 2010 for a whole range of targets. The absence of a clear set of interim targets makes it impossible to judge properly whether the policies in the Plan are beginning to deliver the behaviour and congestion changes anticipated. The Department requires local authorities to produce targets for 2005 as part of the local transport plan process yet has refused to adopt such targets itself. The Department must produce a set of interim targets for 2005 in order to assess progress towards the objectives in the Plan. Progress towards these targets can then be used to develop a new 10 Year Plan to 2015.

Quality of Targets

125. A summary of the key findings of the Committee's investigation of the Plan's targets and discussed in the section Implementing the Plan is shown in Table 7. There are currently no targets for walking, powered two-wheelers or long-distance coaches.[281] Other targets such as the increase in bus and light-rail use, are insufficiently challenging. The targets in the Plan also lack consistency.[282] Increases in bus use are measured in journeys, while increase in rail use is measured in passenger kilometres. In measuring public transport growth figures only, it is not possible to say how much of the growth in public transport use is from trips that would otherwise have been undertaken by car.[283] Whilst growth in public transport use resulting from economic growth will help maintain and grow some services, it does not contribute to a reduction in congestion from today's levels and may indeed be a result of a reduction in cycling and walking.[284] The Plan states that how travel is divided between the different modes will be monitored but no targets have been set.[285] All of the targets within the Plan must be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent and sufficiently challenging. Targets for achieving a mode shift from the car to public transport should be set.

Additional Targets

126. The Sub-Committee received many suggestions for additional targets, which reflects progress towards reducing the need to travel, as opposed to the ease of travelling further. British workers spend, an average of 46 minutes day commuting to work — more than their European counterparts. Almost nine out of ten motorised journeys are made by car, compared to a European average of eight. The Plan contains very little to suggest that it will tackle these trends and contribute towards urban regeneration and healthier lifestyles.[286] It is also unclear about how large increases in traffic will affect local quality of life.[287] It is clear, and logical, that targets strongly dictate the direction of the Plan. However, a failure to incorporate a full range of targets that reflects all aspects of the negative impact of traffic will lead to important elements of the integrated transport strategy being neglected. The Plan must contain targets to enable the assessment of progress towards a more sustainable system with reduced commuting lengths and increased mode share for public transport, cycling and walking.

Table 7


AreaTarget Committee Conclusions and Comments
CongestionReduce congestion on the inter-urban road network and in large urban areas by 2010
  • Congestion indicator is inadequate and must be re-examined
  • Reliability must be included
PollutionImprove air quality
Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5%
  • Contribution required from the Plan is vague
Traffic LevelsNo target set
  • A target is required that reflects quality of life concerns
Passenger rail50% growth in passenger kilometres by 2010
Overcrowding reduced to SRA standards by 2010
Punctuality and reliability improved
  • A national target for growth in passenger kilometres may not be appropriate and lacked consensus
  • Additional regional targets may be required
Rail freight80% increase in rail freight
  • Additional targets for growth in different sectors may be appropriate
BusIncrease bus journeys in England by 10% by 2010
  • Insufficiently challenging
  • Separate targets for London and other areas are required
CoachesNo target
  • Target required
WalkingNo target
  • Targets required
CyclingTriple cycle use by 2010
  • Target for doubling use has been withdrawn
MotorcyclesNo target
  • Target required to enable growth to be managed safely
SafetyReduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by 40% overall and 50% for children
  • Target not matched by detail in the Plan

Regional differences

127. The evidence received has also highlighted the difficulty of having national targets when great differences exist in economic and transport conditions between geographic areas. There was widespread support for the adoption of regional targets that reflected the different contributions required across the country to meet the Plan's objectives.[288] The Department has said that it expects local and regional targets to be set at a local level, which is sensible.[289] However, the targets within the Local Transport Plans are not consistent between areas[290] and it is not clear that the multi-modal studies will produce consistent outcomes. It is therefore currently too difficult to assess whether the targets in the 10 Year Plan are an adequate reflection of the sum of its parts. Much of the success of the Plan depends on action at a local level. It is not clear whether all of the local improvements will deliver the change required.[291] The top-down approach to target setting is not always appropriate. The Department should develop regional targets based on analysis of Local Transport Plans and Regional Transport Strategies.

272   TYP28. Back

273   Q611. Back

274   The baseline indicators are included as TYP28A. Back

275   TYP59. Back

276   Guidance on the second Local Transport Plan Annual Progress Reports, Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, April 2002. Back

277   Delivery of Improvements over the Life of the Plan, Department of Transport Local Government and the Regions, reprinted in HC (1999-2000) 726-I. Back

278   TYP28C. Back

279   Bus reliability and bus fleet age targets were set for July 2001 (4 months into the Plan) and a target to halt the deterioration of local road condition by 2004 was also included. Back

280   TYP56, TYP53. Back

281   Long-distance coaches have a similar market share to rail between 75 and 30 miles. Transport 2010, The 10 Year Plan, p54. Back

282   TYP12, TYP35. Back

283   TYP37. Back

284   TYP41. Back

285   Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, p101. Back

286   Q480, Q482. Back

287   Q598. Back

288   TYP26, TYP31, TYP34, TYP37, TYP44, TYP56. Back

289   TYP28. Back

290   The Local Transport Plan Submissions, RAC Foundation, February 2001. Back

291   Q892. Back

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