Memorandum submitted by Merseytravel
Thank you for giving Merseytravel the opportunity
to contribute to the Environmental Audit Committee's (EAC) current
Merseytravel is the operating name of the Merseyside
Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) and the Merseyside Passenger
Transport Executive (PTE).
The Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) is comprised
of 18 elected councillors drawn from each of the five metropolitan
district councils in Merseyside: Liverpool City Council; Sefton
Metropolitan Borough Council; Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council;
St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council and Wirral Metropolitan
Borough Council. The PTA was established in 1986 on the abolition
of Merseyside County Council.
The PTA sets the transport policies in the sub
region, and the Passenger Transport Executive (PTE) implements
those policies. These policies are set out in the Merseyside Local
Transport Plan, a statutory document covering the period 2000-01
to 2005-06. The draft Local Transport Plan 2 was recently submitted
to the Department for Transport and was given a "very promising"
outcome. This will be finalised in July 2006 and will set out
the transport priorities for the sub-region between 2006-07 and
While there are seven PTAs and PTEs located
in the metropolitan areas in the UK, Merseytravel is unique in
that the PTA and the PTE is one operating organisation.
Merseytravel is responsible for ensuring that
an effective public transport service is available, maintained
and developed throughout the Merseyside region. Merseytravel provides
financial support to non-commercial bus services and to the local
rail network, as well as owing and operating both the Mersey Tunnels
and the Mersey Ferries.
One of Merseytravel's core beliefs is the provision
of sustainable transport to promote regeneration, improved air
quality, good health and accessibility across Merseyside and the
Our policies have been fully integrated to deliver
economic, environmental and social benefits that include regeneration
for the sub-region and communities within it, and positive effects
on air quality, climate change, energy consumption and resource
This will lead to improved accessibility and
social justice for all. In addition they allow integration with
healthier forms of transport such as walking and cycling.
It is Merseytravel's view that the Department
for Transport (DfT) missed a significant opportunity by not including
climate change as one of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) shared
priorities. Had it been made one, then each LTP would have to
have contained targets for carbon reduction. As it is, climate
change is considered as one of the quality of life issues and
as such does not necessarily attract the same level of commitment
from those responsible for the production of the plans.
It is also difficult to make a comment on progress
with regard to the Government's Climate Change Programme, as that
is currently being reviewed. The production of the review is long
One point to be made is that it is very difficult
to extract sufficient and adequate information from Government
websites on the data necessary to make such judgements. This is
not made any easier by different departments such as DEFRA and
DfT using different base data and the lack of clarity on exactly
what has been included in any calculations.
The growth in private vehicles on the roads
seems to be set to outstrip any environmental benefits of improved
engine efficiency. The DfT believes it has a range of tools to
address this, for example, the use of differing tax bands for
carbon emissions, introduction of a renewable fuels obligation,
potential road pricing, surface transport to be included as part
of the Emissions Trading Scheme, technological advances including
low carbon vehicles.
All the varying analytical tools that exist
will take a different amount of time to start yielding any results,
and the scale of the impacts on carbon is likely to vary considerably.
Also, it is not clear exactly what benefits each tool will deliver
in terms of carbon emission reductions.
The key tool that is missing is a greater commitment
to demand management. The number of journeys made in private cars
will have to be reduced if we stand any chance of halting the
carbon emissions from transport. This needs more radical measures.
It may be better if the Government made more
definitive commitments to schemes such as car sharing, car clubs,
multiple occupancy lanes, low emission zones, parking restriction,
access restrictions, workplace user charging, in parallel to the
promotion of public transport.
Merseytravel believes that little progress has
been made in achieving the targets set out in the "Powering
Future Vehicles Strategy". This would appear to be Government's
own view as contained in the Third Annual Report (December 2005).
However, there does not seem to have been an
active push on the take-up of low carbon vehicles. No research
appears to exist that indicates whether consumers are taking consideration
of the varying tax bands. Anecdotally the Toyota Land Cruiser
continues to outsell the Toyota Prius with carbon emissions of
three times the hybrid car. Consumer awareness is a different
thing to positive action.
The Government made considerable promises with
regard to the production of hybrid buses. The Energy Saving Trust
seems locked into a long running debate with the EC over the provision
of grant-aid to stimulate the market for this sort of technology.
In effect, this has stopped any progress being made. The current
prices for these vehicles are too expensive. There are very few
alternative fuelled bus schemes that can operate in a cost effective
manner. The majority of future fuel/vehicle projects will require
The UK Government will require a lot more cross-sector
collaboration for successful implementation of alternative fuels
on a large scale.
To make any significant changes to carbon emissions,
large-scale changes in transport will be required; however the
Government and local authorities find it very difficult to place
legislative pressures on fuel and vehicle suppliers. There is
the sensitive issue over the price and tax of fuel in the UK.
It may be necessary for the Government to legislate
to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.