Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200
WEDNESDAY 19 APRIL 2006
Q200 Emily Thornberry: It is 25%,
Dr Austin: I think it is about
24%. This is PM10 from taxis.
Q201 Emily Thornberry: What is PM10?
Dr Austin: It is particulates,
dust that comes out of the back of the exhaust.
Q202 Emily Thornberry: The sort of
stuff that gives you asthma?
Dr Austin: That is it.
Q203 Mark Pritchard: Do you think
the reception you would get from taxi drivers would be a positive
one? Perhaps part of the answer to that question might suggest
why, if you will forgive me, Transport for London, whilst being
strategic and forward thinking in many areas that you set out
in our evidence today, when it comes to taxis are being slightly
shy, because you are fearful of the reception you might get. Am
I being unkind?
Dr Austin: I think the power is
with the PM10
emissions that they have got 20p extra on their "flag fall"
which goes towards the cost, so every time they have a ride they
get an extra 20p which will go towards the cost of them purchasing
equipment that can reduce the emissions or, if they have already
got a new cab, that is additional money for them. But there has
to be a financial incentive for them to change.
Q204 Mark Pritchard: Do Transport
for London agree with me that if I step out as a hopefully environmentally
discerning consumer, if I have 10 Black Cabs going past me I would
like to have an indication of which one I can choose that is using
alternative fuels, not just having a catalytic converter put on
the exhaust to try to mitigate certain people within the Black
Cab lobby who will not be too happy if the Mayor is more serious
about the environmental agenda?
Ms Dedring: That might be a way
to pursue that policy, to do it on a voluntary basis at first
and see whether those cabs have better take-up or are particularly
used by people. That could be a way to approach it. We have not
thought about it yet but it is only because we are at the beginning
of the discussions internally. You are quite right, it is an issue.
Emily Thornberry: The Black Cab lobby
is already going. All the London MPs have been contacted by the
Black Cab lobby already about this; I am just telling you.
Q205 Mr Chaytor: Can I ask about
light rail because in London there are two light rail schemes,
the Docklands Light Railway and the Croydon tram. What assessment
have you made of the economic value of light rail and the effectiveness
in bringing about modal shift in reducing emissions? Is there
any consideration of a third light rail scheme at any point in
Dr Austin: You mentioned the two
schemes, those being DLR and Tramlink. Certainly with the Docklands
Light Railway, that scheme has been quite effective in terms of
modal shift. If you take between 1991 and 1998, in 1991 about
half drove to the Isle of Dogs by car, and that went down to a
third by 1998. Conversely, about a third used DLR in 1991 and
that went up to a half. That shows the impact of DLR and switching
people out of cars. In the same way with the Croydon Tramlink,
a detailed impact study was undertaken following its implementation
and that found about 19% of people switched from car to tram.
It does show a properly designed, thought-out and implemented
scheme can have a very good effect in terms of taking car journeys
off the roads. In terms of future schemes, the scheme that is
being progressed furthest at the moment is the West London tram
scheme which will go from Uxbridge to Shepherd's Bush along the
Uxbridge Road and will follow, I think, the busiest bus corridor
in London which is the 207 bus corridor. We are hoping by the
end of the year to put the Transport and Works Act in.
Q206 Mr Chaytor: Sorry, by the end
of the year?
Dr Austin: By the end of the year
to put the Transport and Works Act in, and then it will all go
through the obvious processes. Other schemes that we are looking
at are to extend the Croydon Tramlink scheme to Crystal Palace
and to deliver a tram through central London from Peckham to Camden,
which is the Cross-River Tram. They are the most developed ones.
There are others that are at a feasibility stage which we are
looking at but they are the three that have been taken forward
Q207 Mr Chaytor: On those three,
you are confident that they are cost-effective economically?
Dr Austin: Yes. Certainly the
West London tram and Croydon Tramlink and these are being developed
further to a further stage, and they provide a very good benefit-cost
ratio. There is also the extension to the Docklands Light Railway.
They are starting to bore through from London City Airport through
to Woolwich, and there will be a number of extensions in the next
two or three years to cater for the Olympics, for example to Stratford.
DLR is working very well; its passenger numbers are increasing
from a very low base several years ago to 55 million people now
and probably up to 80 million within five or 10 years.
Q208 Mr Chaytor: What do you think
about the Department for Transport's views of light rail because
there has been some criticism that they are cooling down an earlier
enthusiasm in favour of supporting light rail? Is that your experience?
Dr Austin: Regardless if it is
light rail or buses, any scheme can be effective and shown that
that is the best alternative, then I would hope the Department
for Transport would support that. They have not given me any indication
of a lack of support for West London tram or any other schemes
Q209 Mr Chaytor: The Climate Change
Programme Review does not make any reference to light rail at
all, as far as I recall. Is that an oversight or do you think
we should be considering this more seriously?
Dr Austin: We should be considering
the best type of public transport for the conditions; in some
cases it will be bus, in other cases the improvements could be
light rail, in others it will be heavy rail. It is really horses
for courses. The Review does say that investment in public transport
is essential and needs to be continued. You just need to look
at the right types of transport for the right places.
Q210 Mr Chaytor: In terms of the
Uxbridge corridor, the 207 corridor, why is it that you came down
in favour of light rail there?
Dr Austin: Firstly, it is effectively
the busiest bus corridor in London. Secondly, looking at the projected
future growth in passengers along that corridor, buses would not
be able to cope; the number of buses would be affecting the operation
of junctions, et cetera. The only way you can cater for increased
demand over the next 20 years is for light rail.
Q211 Mr Chaytor: You cannot make
any generalised judgments about the equivalent cost of light rail
as against quality of bus corridors? It depends entirely on the
usage of the route, does it?
Dr Austin: Exactly. At low passenger
levels, buses are the most efficient way of transporting people.
As passenger levels go up, it becomes the case that it costs more
to operate the bus than light rail, so when you move to a certain
point, you have to say that light rail might be more economically
viable at this point.
Q212 Mr Chaytor: Is there any evidence
that light rail is intrinsically more attractive to people in
terms of modal shift? Are people more easily persuaded out their
cars because of a tram as against a bus?
Dr Austin: Certainly that was
the case with the Croydon Tramlink. That was a good incentive
for people to switch; you do not want to get a bus where the journey
takes longer, and you have got comfort et cetera on light rail.
Q213 Lynne Featherstone: You state
that the Congestion Charge has been very successful in reducing
carbon emissions, around a 20% reduction. What lessons have you
learned from running the scheme that you would advise the Department
for Transport or local authorities on? What should they or should
they not take into account in bringing forward other road-user
Ms Dedring: If you look at transport
emissions in London, as you probably know, 50%, by far the bulk
of the emissions, comes from private vehicles and motorcycles.
Obviously if you want to reduce emissions and you are looking
for the biggest bang for your buck, you would want to focus on
private vehicles. There are two sides to that: one is offering
a viable alternative on the public transport side and the other
one is providing the incentive for people to get out of their
cars. The London example demonstrates that pricing is the most
effective way to do that. If you are looking for a significant
reduction in transport CO2 emissions, then it would
seem to me that a pricing tool in the private vehicle arena would
be one obvious placejust purely from a numerical standpointthat
you would be looking at, if not the primary policy that you would
be looking at.
Q214 Lynne Featherstone: It is just
that in terms of being an attractive proposition for other places
or other local authorities, there was one scheme that did not
come to be in Edinburgh, I think. Should the Department for Transport
be given a stronger lead or more support to local authorities
in setting up other road charging schemes? When I say "What
lessons have you learned?", I know that the pricing mechanism
is a good idea in terms of what we see but were there pitfalls?
What could you do to sell it to other places to make it more attractive
than it apparently is so far?
Dr Austin: I think in terms of
allowing other towns and cities to take up that option, it does
need strong local leadership, that is for sure. The money that
the DfT is putting forward as part of the transport and innovation
fundI think it is £200 million a year for five years
or sois a good way. They can provide the funding to get
things up and running so it does not rely on local taxpayers et
cetera paying for the set-up charge, but obviously in many places
it is going to be controversial. It has to be sold; but there
are significant benefits. Many centres in the UK have significantly
high levels of congestion, possibly not as bad as central London
but not far off, and they also have very good public transport.
There are good alternatives to the car; there are options. Selling
the benefits to the actual quality of life, the town, et cetera,
is one way to do that, but it is never going to be easy.
Ms Dedring: Just to add on the
£200 million that appears to be flagged within the TIF funding,
the set-up costs for the Congestion Charging scheme in London
will be roughly £200 million. If you are looking at that
on a national scale, then your question about "Is the DfT
providing a sufficient lead from a financial standpoint?",
no would be the answer, I would say, purely because of the cost,
of course other conurbations will be smaller but that is not going
to cover a significant volume of these kinds of schemes nationally.
Q215 Emily Thornberry: Can I ask
a question about the Congestion Charge, because low-emission cars
can go into central London without paying the Charge. Has it had
a significant effect on the take-up of low-emission cars in London,
do you think?
Ms Dedring: It is difficult to
know because there are market forces and green desires among consumers
anyway and it is difficult to disentangle those. I guess on balance
our view would be yes, it has had an effect. Certainly, on sales
of electric vehicles, I know, for example, that the manufacturers
are saying the Congestion Charge had a significant effect on that.
Q216 Emily Thornberry: Do you know
what proportion of low-emission vehicles are being used in central
Ms Dedring: That is a good question,
I do not.
Dr Austin: I do not. Part of the
thing is that the number of vehicles in central London is relatively
small, but I think the help that the Congestion Charge has given
to say, "Low-emission vehicles are great. You can go into
the Congestion Charging zone free" is a very good marketing
tool for them.
Q217 Emily Thornberry: You can count
them, can you not, so you will know presumably? Can you get back
to us on that?
Dr Austin: Yes.
Q218 Mark Pritchard: We are currently
consulting on proposals to establish a low-emission zone, I just
wonder whether you have got any comments on how that might impact
on London's tourism given that part of the objectives is targeted
at buses and coaches and that very large parties of people come
into London on coaches. What impact might it have on the capital's
Dr Austin: That is something that
we are going to be looking at as part of the monitoring exercise.
Q219 Mark Pritchard: Sorry, can I
just interject, when you say "monitoring", monitoring
Dr Austin: Before and after. I
think the first thing to say is the majority of coaches, particularly
international-type coaches et cetera, coming into London will
meet the criteria by 2008 anyway. In terms of the work that we
are doing on monitoring, I am happy to come back to you and highlight
what we are doing.
1 Footnote inserted by witness 26.04.06: We have introduced
an emissions strategy for taxis to reduce PM10 emissions. Back