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18 Apr 2006 : Column 635W—continued

Car-share Lanes

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans the Government have to build further car-share lanes; [62996]

(2) what the cost is of establishing the new car-share lane on the M1; [62997]

(3) if he will make a statement on the new car-share lane on the M1. [62998]

Dr. Ladyman: Carpool lanes encourage drivers to share their vehicle by providing dedicated lanes for vehicles with passengers. In December 2004 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport announced a trial of high occupancy vehicle lanes on the M1 between junctions 7 and 10, as part of the planned widening scheme. The total cost of the car-sharing lane part of the scheme has yet to be finalised, but is currently estimated to be £6 million. The lanes are due to come into operation in 2008.

On 20 March 2006 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport announced a second trial of a one-mile high-occupancy vehicle lane for traffic joining the M62 eastbound at junction 26, which will be implemented in 2007.
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There are currently no firm plans to introduce further car-sharing lanes on the trunk road network. However, a further review of the trunk road network by the Highways Agency could identify other potential sites which might be assessed to develop a robust programme to deliver other car-sharing schemes.

Concessionary Fares

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the financial effects of the changes to concessionary fares upon pensioners who frequently travel across local authority boundaries. [61688]

Dr. Ladyman: We are introducing a national scheme in April 2008 which will allow 11 million older and disabled people free off-peak bus travel anywhere in England. In the interim, we are keen for local authorities to work together to provide cross-boundary or countywide schemes. However, ultimately it is for local authorities to decide whether to make these arrangements.

Departmental Policies

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to Islington, South and Finsbury constituency, the effects on Islington, South and Finsbury of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [60735]

Derek Twigg: The Department for Transport (DfT) does not routinely hold transport statistics on a parliamentary constituency basis. However, the Department provides Transport for London with a block grant to fund transport delivery in London. This grant has increased by 203 per cent. over the last five years, rising to some £2,181 million in 2005–06. Drawing on these and other resources, the Mayor is responsible for providing a Transport Strategy for London while the boroughs are required to provide Local Implementation Plans which set out how they will contribute to the Mayor's strategy.

The additional funding that has been made available has helped deliver 976 million passenger journeys on the Tube in 2004–05, a rise of 2.7 per cent. from the previous year. The Tube is also running more kilometres than ever before with an all time high in customer satisfaction. Bus services in London have also improved. 1,788 million bus passenger journeys were made in 2004–05. Patronage has grown by almost 40 per cent. between 1999–2000 and 2004–05, rising by 5.0 per cent. in 2004–05 compared to the previous year. Service reliability on London's buses is at its highest level since records began in 1977.

Various improvements in relation to cycling have also been realised across London and Islington and Finsbury in particular. Investment in cycling in London has risen during the past five years from £5.5 million in 2000 to £20 million in 2005–06, and TfL will invest £24 million in cycling infrastructure, training, promotion and education in 2006–07. The number of recorded cycle journeys on London's major roads rose by 100 per cent. during the last five years—59,000 to 119,000 recorded journeys a week, number of cyclists killed or seriously injured has fallen by 40 per cent. during the last five
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years. London's biggest staffed cycle park opened in Finsbury Park in March 2006, which marked the completion of the latest stage of TfL's £10 million Finsbury Park Transport Interchange Project.

The Public Performance Measure (PPM) on all heavy rail routes serving the constituency has also been improving—for example on West Anglia's Great Northern Inner service, where the PPM has risen from 83.4 per cent. in December 2005 to 94.1 per cent. in March 2006.

Driving Standards Agency

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the extent to which the Driving Standards Agency internet site on the highway code is user-friendly. [64327]

Dr. Ladyman: The website in question relates to the Highway Code review consultation being carried out by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).

The website is constructed in such a way as to allow users to reply either by post, by downloading and printing relevant documents, or by replying online using a simple on-screen form.

Since being launched on 14 February 2006 the online system has had 3,000 visits and over 800 people have completed the online response system.

Humber Bridge

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent changes have been made to the interest paid on the debt on the Humber bridge; and if he will make a statement. [62674]

Dr. Ladyman: In 1998 the debt on the Humber bridge was restructured. This restructuring included significantly reducing the interest rate from an average yearly interest rate of 11.62 per cent. to a fixed consolidated rate of 7.75 per cent. Interest payments were suspended on £240 million of the Secretary of State's debt of £359 million.

The Department is currently reviewing the debt arrangements and expects to be in a position to approach the Humber bridge operator, the Humber Bridge Board, in the near future about a further restructuring.

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the report into the inquiry into the Humber bridge tolls; and if he will make a statement. [62652]

Dr. Ladyman: The inquiry inspector's report has been received and considered.

Having considered the report and taking into account the representations received with regard to the Humber Bridge Board's application to revise the charges for using the Humber bridge, I have approved the making of the order authorising the revision of tolls as applied for by the Bridge Board in line with the inspector's recommendation.

I have already written separately to my hon. Friend, the Member for Cleethorpes, and the four other hon. and right hon. Members who made representations to
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the Secretary of State on this matter, providing copies of the report and the letter sent to the Bridge Board advising of the decision to authorise the revision of tolls.

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received in relation to the level of Humber Bridge tolls. [62675]

Dr. Ladyman: The operator of the Humber Bridge, the Humber Bridge Board, published a notice on 26 September 2005 announcing its application to the Secretary of State for Transport for authorisation to revise the toll charges for using the Humber Bridge.

During the statutory representation period which ran from the first publication of the notice until 11 November 2005 four representations were received—from three bus and coach companies and one private individual.

Subsequent to the expiry of that statutory period a further 52 representations have been received—either sent directly to the Secretary of State or given directly to the Inspector who chaired an inquiry into the bridge board's application on 7 February 2006.

These representations consist of: five from hon. and right hon. Members (including my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes); two local newspapers; four lobby and representative organisations; one local business; and one local authority. The remaining representations were from private individuals mainly residing in Cleethorpes, Grimsby and Barton-upon-Humber.

The representations (including those received during the statutory period) relate, in the main, to three main issues: reduced toll charges for local service buses using the bridge; concessions for journeys across the bridge for reasons related to healthcare; and the total abolition of toll charges.

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