Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440-459)|
MR CHARLES GEORGE QC and MISS JOANNA CLAYTON.
BIRCHAM DYSON BELL and MR JOHN McGOLDRICK examined
440. I think the trend that I would like it to reflect
is the difference between Knowsley and the Wirral in relation
to Liverpool city centre is that the Wirral is on the other side
of the river and Knowsley is not. There is no barrier other than
(Mr Bates) In
terms of drive-time there is no difference accessing, clearly
if one believes that these mental perceptions build up as a physical
barrier; but do not forget there have been people moving across
the river for many years because there used to be vehicle ferries
before the tunnel - the baggage boats. Indeed, the whole purpose
of building the tunnel was because it was felt the Wirral was
very closely connected to Liverpool and needed a connection to
enable that to occur. I would say the Wirral has always seen
itself as part of Merseyside, and is particularly very closely
linked to Liverpool. What is reflected is a suppression effect
of the toll. Indeed, if one then takes this a step further and
says, "If we might imagine the Wirral would behave in a similar
manner to Knowsley had the toll not been in place", then
in fact we can estimate that there are about 1,500 vehicles in
the peak hour alone which are not travelling into Liverpool as
a consequence of the toll. This is having a significant suppression
effect in terms of car trips to the city centre.
441. CHAIRMAN: Mr Bates, you made considerable
play, I am sure correctly, when looking at C.4 on the excellent
and frequency of rail travel from the Wirral to Liverpool. How
does that compare with rail travel from Knowsley to Liverpool?
(Mr Bates) Knowsley
also has two different rail lines.
442. How many per hour in the rush hour?
(Mr Bates) A similar
sort of level. I do not know exactly to be perfectly honest with
you, but similar levels. Do not forget that the high frequency
of the trains is in fact in part a product of the demand for it.
Services will be provided to meet the demand. In reality part
of the high frequency is the product of the demand for an alternative
method to cross the river. They are, by definition, circular
in terms of their existence. This is undoubtedly why there is
quite a high usage of public transport from the Wirral into Liverpool.
One of the ways in which the toll has been addressed is by people
using a more sustainable, more environmentally acceptable mode
into the centre of Liverpool.
443. LORD BRADSHAW: Historically the Wirral
was part of Cheshire and Knowsley was part of Lancashire. The
Wirral was much better served by train services than Knowsley.
Historically there were very good trains because of the investment
in those train services by the original Mersey Train Company.
I think if you asked people from Wirral they would not take very
kindly to be described as "Merseysiders". I agree that
there is a geographical divide.
(Mr Bates) That
is obviously an issue for one's own interpretation. I am sure
Lord Bradshaw would agree that cost has an implication upon
mode choice and destination choice. I am sure you would agree
that, by definition, the existence of the toll must be affecting
the way people travel around.
444. CHAIRMAN: It will have an effect.
445. MR GEORGE: You gave a figure of 1,500
as an attempt to quantify it for the peak hour. Do you have a
table in which you show the mathematics of the 1,500. We will
not burden the Committee with it, but could you just say how you
get to 1,500 and if the Committee want a table they can have it.
(Mr Bates) There
are effectively 134,300 car-owning households in the Wirral.
If you multiply 134,300 by the trip rates for one, and then by
the trip rate for the other, and then deduct the difference that,
effectively, is the suppression measurement.
446. CHAIRMAN: I must challenge you on the
suppression element. It is the difference - it is not necessary
the "suppression element"; it is the statistical difference.
(Mr Bates) It
is the statistical difference. In my opinion it is a reflection
447. Indeed, that is your opinion of it, but that
is all it is. That is not provable.
(Mr Bates) It
is almost unprovable anyway, not least because what you have to
remember is the toll has been in place for so long it has created
a whole historic different pattern of travel. This has been here
for 70 years, and indeed the ferries beforehand were charged as
well. So what you have is historically a completely different
pattern such that it is quite possible people do not even realise
they are doing it now. It has just become a behaviour pattern
that people do. That does not mean it is not the toll that is
448. MR GEORGE: I think the matters have
been identified but are very difficult to quantify, but all transport
planners tend to work on journey distance times and costs of journeys.
Is that right?
(Mr Bates) That
449. There may be other matters but, of course,
they are the unquantifiable. 1,500 for peak hour. What is your
figure for the off peak?
(Mr Bates) You
do the same calculation for the off peak and you get 950 vehicles
450. If we then turn on to Exhibit C.6 you break
down the origins and destinations of tunnel users. One straightaway
sees there is a blue portion. The 2 per cent is a very small
number of people who have got both an origin and a destination
(Mr Bates) That
is correct, yes.
451. So far as the 76 per cent are concerned, they
have got both their origin and their destination inside Merseyside;
and so far as the yellow is concerned, they have got either an
origin or a destination inside Merseyside?
(Mr Bates) Correct.
452. We have got, therefore, 98 per cent, if we
add 76 per cent and the 22 per cent, who would potentially directly
benefit from any improvements which are brought about by public
transport in Merseyside?
(Mr Bates) That
is correct, yes.
453. Can we just pause here for a moment, because
some members of the Committee may be wondering whether, if the
Bill was to proceed, the money should be spent not on Merseyside
generally but on a smaller area of Merseyside - the area close
to the tunnel. Could you please give your observations on that
matter and generally on the use to be made of the money?
(Mr Bates) I think
one has to be very careful with those sorts of assumptions. What
we have increasingly understood over the last five to ten years
is the travel patterns are far more complex than simply A to B
journeys. Indeed, increasingly we realise we have to take a far
more holistic view of the whole journey to understand how we might
affect it. If I can give you four examples to highlight this.
Example one is what one might call the multi-leg trip, where if
someone was travelling from, say, the Wirral to the Knowsley Business
Park, which is a large employment area on the far side of Knowsley,
at the moment you can get a train from Wirral to the centre of
Liverpool - a fairly good service, which is fairly frequent -
and that in theory might attract you to use public transport rather
than the car. However, to get to Knowsley Business Park there
is not, at the moment, a railway station at Knowsley Business
Park; therefore, your second leg of the journey is in fact very
unattractive by public transport because of this problem of the
absence of a railway station. Clearly, therefore, if one was
to spend money in improving the movement between Liverpool and
Knowsley Business Park you might in fact attract people from their
cars using the tunnel into public transport. Clearly the money
is being spent geographically at a location quite distant from
the tunnel. That is one good example of where this more holistic
approach needs to be taken. The second thing to understand is
that a lot of trips are multi-model, or multi-activity, and therefore
often an improvement to an adjacent element of the journey might
affect a change. There are two examples I can think of. One
at the moment is that a lot of journey to school initiatives have
been progressed to encourage people not to drive their children
to school. Clearly, an initiative that encourages children to
make a journey to school other than by car in fact frees up part
of the car journey for someone who is currently dropping his child
off at school. That clearly is a benefit to that person. That
person might have to divert from school before going through the
tunnel or whatever. Clearly, that would be a benefit to him but
it might seem to be an unrelated issue. In the same way, if I
travel from the Wirral to central Liverpool, I may at lunchtime
wish to go to a social facility or a service facility somewhere
in the city centre, where good public transport in the centre
of Liverpool would be very convenient to me to move around the
city to go to banks, solicitors or other facilities. That might
not immediately appear to be directly related to that journey
across the river, but clearly would be of benefit to me. Of course,
what we must remember is that every time somebody who currently
drives in a car switches to public transport everybody else who
stays in their car gets a benefit. Even if I do not myself make
a change but other people do, then I still get the benefit as
a road user through less congestion. I think the other concerns
with defining boundaries is that if it there was a bottleneck
problem immediately outside that boundary then again it is difficult
to address. I think one of the reasons why people are nervous
to define boundaries is that the problem becomes just outside
and you are always constrained that you just cannot spend that
money that little bit further out. That is why we feel that the
Merseyside region as what we call the "journey to work region"
for the area is the most appropriate area.Finally, I think, Merseyside
and the four highway agencies - and we must remember that the
Local Transport Plan is progressed not just by the Public Transport
Authority, but also by the four highway agencies - are also operating
as regeneration agencies as well. The fundamental problem actually
in Liverpool is economic regeneration and money that can be spent
on economic regeneration of the region will in fact feed back
to everybody in a virtuous circle of greater employment, greater
spending in the region leading to greater employment, as I said,
what we call the "virtual circle", so in that respect
again a regional approach to spending in fact will still give
benefits to people who use the tunnel.
454. You said four highway authorities. There are
five local authorities, so there are five highway authorities,
are there not?
(Mr Bates) That
is indeed correct.
455. Is all transport planning in Merseyside done
now on a pan-Merseyside basis?
(Mr Bates) Yes,
it is all driven through the Local Transport Plan where the highway
authorities and the Public Transport Authority, which is Merseytravel,
work together for a holistic approach to transport, as I said,
reflecting all the issues I have just discussed.
456. And is there any form of sensible alternative,
in your view, if there is to be hypothecation other than a hypothecation
which is limited to spending on transport in Merseyside?
(Mr Bates) No.
457. We move on to the RPI point. We can turn first
to your exhibit C7. That is set out. Can you help with this,
Mr Bates, as to why the RPI rather than any other measure?
(Mr Bates) I think
there are two reasons. Basically the RPI measure is measured
independently. Therefore, the general public has a lot of confidence
in it because it is independently measured. It also is a measure
which has been recorded for a very long time. You can actually
find RPI indices going back to 1947 and clearly so much now is
linked to RPI that it is inevitably an index which will continue
into the future.
458. In the early days of the Bill and its predecessor,
there were suggestions that one ought to be having some construction
index rather than the RPI. If we turn over to exhibit C8, you
have set out first of all in black the RPI which we can see and
also a variety of other indices which could have been contemplated.
Your observation please.
(Mr Bates) Simply
here I am showing that in fact construction price indices have
increased at a much faster rate than RPI. Therefore, the adoption
of RPI by Mersey tunnels will in effect enforce efficiencies in
their activities anyway because construction work will undoubtedly
be going up at a higher rate.
459. I explained to the Committee yesterday the
function of the RPI, the two broad policy objectives, which are
maintaining the status quo of travel costs and ensuring that revenues
kept pace with the increases in tunnel costs. Do I correctly
state the matter there?
(Mr Bates) Yes, you do.