Memorandum by Councillor Steve Harangozo,
Comberton Ward, South Cambridgeshire DC (TYP 24)
UK CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY AND SUSTAINABLE
UK transport policy appears to show little sign
of moving towards a sustainable future with increased motorway
building and widening being mooted. Despite the introduction of
Local Transport Plans little new funding is available for walking,
cycling and public transport. Bus services continue to be cut
in rural areas despite the Rural Bus Grant. Bus passengers are
still second class citizens in an industry starved of investment.
The transport sector is the fastest growing
source of CO2 but the government continues not to face up to the
need to stop traffic growth despite two Traffic Reduction Acts.
Not surprisingly, there is a policy vacuum in terms of the links
between transport policy, climate change and the need for CO2
reduction. This is despite the recent warning by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that global warming may be far
greater in the next century than had been thought. This suggests
that a major test for national transport policy is whether it
will be able to stabilise and reverse traffic growth through substantial
modal shift. This may be happening in a few large cities like
Manchester with new trams but this is only a drop in the ocean.
Is the balance and phasing of investment across
funding areas correct?
No. Far greater funding is needed for policies
to achieve modal shift away from the private motorcar. Given that
the largest fraction of journeys is less than five miles, it follows
that walking, cycling and, in particular, buses are far more important
than rail. John Prescott explicitly acknowledged the importance
of such modes in the introduction to a New Deal for Transport.
Yet the greater part of 10 Year Plan funding is going to road
and rail. But rail cannot really deliver significant modal shift
because it is geared to long distance travel. It is also already
Rail thus cannot really deal with city congestion
problems except over the very long-term and only if capacity is
greatly increased. In any case, modal shift would only be achieved
with widespread implementation of demand management, something
that seems even more distant. Last week a letter to The Independent
complained that motorists are hardly likely to drive their
cars to suburban stations when they can drive all the way at less
cost. They would certainly not want to do this just to sit on
a jam-packed train or stuck on stranded trains getting into places
like Birmingham. This letter typifies the very real problem with
railways for delivering sustainable transport alternatives in
the UK. But it also demonstrates the lack of sticks to dissuade
motorists from driving into city centres even when alternatives
The funding imbalance is reflected in Local
Transport Plans where the status quo exists with most funding
still going to large infrastructure projects. In Cambridgeshire
(Cambridgeshire County Council) this notably means very expensive
by-passes which of themselves don't deliver modal shift. In contrast,
the number of cycleways and road safety schemes has not increased
with LTPs and only one major bus lane scheme is provided per year
in Cambridge. There is a huge backlog of requests for pedestrian
crossing and traffic calming schemes in Cambridgeshire. Note that
the cost of one roundabout on a dual carriageway is perhaps £0.5
million which will buy 20 traffic calming schemes or 40 pedestrian
Therefore there is a gulf between public expectations
for local transport improvements and the 10 Year Plan's emphasis
on national road and rail. County Council public consultations
on Local Transport Plans countrywide say people want far more
investment in buses, cycling and walking, not roads. Consultations
in Cambridgeshire confirm there is no support for new roads. It
appears that the recent rail disasters and the emphasis on national
rail safety are obscuring the genuine need for and benefits from
developing practical local transport solutions people really want.
Our road system will continue to be inefficiently
used until permits or charges are introduced that make the motorist
think about whether their five to 10 mile journey on the motorway
at peak time or driving their child to school each day is really
necessary. Freight is massively subsidised by general public taxation
despite its huge damage to road surfaces. This is despite forecasts
of 20 per cent freight traffic growth over the next 15 years.
Climate change caused by CO2 also needs to be recognised in roads
policy making as a major environmental externality.
Sustainable national transport policies
should be geared to (1) more efficient use of the existing road
network and (2) reducing and reversing road traffic growth, not
to increases in road capacity.
Collect funding from section 106
agreements into one fund per local authority of which 50 per cent
are used for walking, cycling and buses (including community transport).
How well does the Plan balance social and environmental
policy with efficient investment?
What is lacking is clear policy for modal shift
from the private car and traffic reduction and linking this to
reducing CO2 emissions given that the transport sector is responsible
for the largest growth of such emissions. It is astonishing the
government is so reluctant to link its climate change and transport
policies. Note Margaret Beckett's response to the question of
why the fuel escalator was dropped was "we all know the reasons
why" in a BBC interview (Westminster Hour) after the fuel
protests. There was no mention of the long-standing policy of
levying tax for environmental reasons at the time of the fuel
protests or since. Yet this was a policy set up by the Tories
in the early 90s.
Redirect national policy to road
traffic reduction on all routes with local authorities being set
tough targets which, if met, will trigger substantial central
government funding in local sustainable transport schemes.
Restore the fuel escalator or a flexible
taxing mechanism to ensure that petrol prices are kept high when
oil prices drop in order to limit increase in fuel use.
Undertake a thorough review of the
methods and purposes of charging/taxation for national and local
road use and other demand restraint measures in order to (a) reduce
public subsidy of roads and (b) to achieve a real balance between
economic and environmental costs.
THE 10 YEAR
It appears that ministers are beginning to use
these studies to justify increases in capacity, ie new or wider
roads, when no alternative apparently exists. Sally Keeble recently
endorsed additional road "capacity" on the A14 as part
of a Multi-Modal Study in Cambridgeshire (CHUMMS), presumably
to alleviate congestion. Is congestion going to be used to justify
raising capacity countrywide?
The point is that that there will be no alternative
to more road building so long as road traffic is allowed to grow
unchecked. Yet even if road building were to increase it has been
shown in recent research that this will have negligible effect
on road journey times nationally. While multi-modal studies may
identify opportunities for modal shift, the underlying problem
of traffic growth is being left untouched. Computer simulations
showing freely flowing peak-time traffic once road widening has
taken place shown at public consultation meetings are a dangerous
myth! What does this say about sustainable development and educating
the public about pressing environmental issues?
Sustainability concepts should govern
all multi-modal studies with an explicit need to break the link
between capacity increase and tackling congestion problems.
Demand management should be an integral
part of multi-modal studies for inter-urban routes and should
be put in place before any increase in road capacity.
Should the Plan represent a better balance between
large and small schemes?
Yes! Local transport plans should "ring
fence" 50 per cent of funds for smaller local projects specifically
designed to achieve modal shift linked to more demanding targets
for traffic reduction. A step-change in funding for bus priority
schemes is also required to give buses a competitive advantage.
The government needs to endorse and financially
support the widespread implementation of demand management to
restrain local traffic growth as soon as new local schemes such
as bus priority and increased bus frequency are put in place.
It is unfortunate that local authorities have been left with full
discretion over implementation of demand management by charging
motorists for congestion or workplace parking spaces. This was
a recipe for inertia because transport policy is one area that
needs strong central leadership to make any significant change
to the status quo!
Policies for delivery of substantial
modal shift through local sustainable transport schemes should
be strengthened and linked to credible targets for traffic reduction
on a local authority basis.
A step-increase in funding for bus
priority schemes in urban areas to make bus journey times more
Are the targets and the dates for their achievement
No. Reducing congestion is a distant prospect
with 17 per cent more traffic expected in the next 10 years. Congestion
is expected to worsen on motorways. Congestion is not the root
transport problem which is to reduce and reverse traffic growth
by (a) increasing the cost of motoring which is so cheap and where
roads are so heavily subsidised and (b) putting in place a far
bolder strategy for local transport schemes, notably buses, and
for integration of bus and rail.
Specific targets are urgently required to radically
improve quality and reliability of buses. Because of their flexibility
and relatively low costs buses can provide "quick wins"
for road traffic reduction either on a route by route basis or
by area. Targets for bus-based "quick wins" for local
authorities should include:
Increase all peak time bus services
on commuting routes to half-hourly (hourly in off-peak)this
sort of measure working with bus priority has increased bus patronage
by 70-100 per cent in the Cambridge region.
Upgrade contracts for all existing
bus services (not just new ones funded by the Rural Bus Grant)
to Quality Partnerships by providing funding to bus operators.
Through ticketing for all bus and