A new Deal for Transport Better for Everyone The Government's White Paper on the Future of Transport Contents Foreword Acknowledgements Scope of the White Paper part I chapter 1: a new Deal for Transport part II chapter 2: Sustainable Transport Chapter

Role of Passenger Transport Authorities

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Role of Passenger Transport Authorities
The six English Passenger Transport Authorities and their Executives (PTAs/PTEs) (ie Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands and West Yorkshire) and Strathclyde in Scotland are responsible for securing public transport services for some 14 million people in major urban areas outside London. They are well placed to play a leading role in delivering integrated transport objectives in places which face some of the most serious environmental and congestion problems outside London. In doing this, they will need to build on and extend existing joint working arrangements and partnerships with highway authorities, transport operators and other organisations in their areas. In particular, the English PTAs will need to work closely with the district councils in their areas to produce joint local transport plans so that the highway authorities' plans support the PTA strategy.

PTA/Es are important in developing integrated transport in metropolitan areas through:

  • providing a more strategic approach to passenger transport issues in urban areas where there is a heavy reliance on public transport;

  • securing tendered bus services;

  • as joint signatories to rail franchise agreement, specifying and funding local rail services;

  • a strong role in promoting integrated public transport services;

  • close joint working with highway authorities and others, for example, in working up package bids with district councils which provide the framework for decisions on bus lanes and other priority measures.

We believe that many of the improvements we want to see can be achieved within existing powers. In order to demonstrate what can be achieved through voluntary co-operation, Greater Manchester PTA, transport operators and the district councils in its area have developed a pilot project. We will be looking to PTAs elsewhere to develop similar projects. We will monitor these projects closely so that the experience can inform future initiatives.

Greater Manchester - integrated transport pilot

  • Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority has been working with public transport operators to deliver improvements across all modes - bus, rail and Metrolink;

  • information and advice is available through a network of 'Travelshops', a telephone information bureau, printed timetables, network maps and departure time displays at bus stops. Travelshops also sell bus and rail tickets;

  • A wider range of initiatives is now in hand to:

  • provide comprehensive publicity and information at stops and stations, and on the internet;

  • offer a full range of modal and multi-modal ticketing;

  • agree common dates for bus service changes;

  • increase substantially the number of bus shelters;

  • identify strategic routes for high frequency bus services, assisted by bus priority measures.

Local action
Local transport plans
New local transport plans will be a centrepiece of our proposals. Local authorities outside London will set out in these plans their proposals for delivering integrated transport over a five year period. The detailed arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be set out in the Scottish Integrated Transport White Paper and the transport policy statements for Wales and Northern Ireland.

Local transport plans in England

  • local transport plans will be key to the delivery of integrated transport locally;

  • local authorities will draw up 5 year plans, consulting widely with local people, businesses, transport operators and community groups;

  • will include future investment plans and propose packages of measures to meet local transport needs.

The plans will:

  • cover all forms of transport;

  • co-ordinate and improve local transport;

  • set out strategies for promoting more walking and cycling;

  • promote green transport plans for journeys to work, school and other places;

  • include measures to reduce social exclusion and address the needs of different groups in society;

  • set out proposals for implementation, including bus Quality Partnerships, traffic management and traffic calming, proposals for road user charging and PNR parking charges and freight Quality Partnerships.

Local transport plan targets could include

  • air pollution-to improve local air quality;

  • traffic reduction-from the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997;

  • cycling-eg to increase the number of cycle trips or to increase the proportion of journeys made by cycle;

  • walking-eg to reverse decline in walking or to increase walking journeys to school;

  • use of public transport-eg to reverse the decline in patronage and to achieve a shift from car to bus;

  • road safety-eg to reduce number of road casualties;

  • green transport plans-eg for the preparation of plans by major local employers or for reducing journeys to school by car.

The plans will provide the basis for an integrated approach, closely linked with Local Agenda 21 strategies and will implement the transport aspects of development plan strategies. Regional Planning Guidance will set the regional framework for local authorities' transport plans. We will look to local authorities to build on present liaison arrangements with their neighbouring authorities (both urban and rural) and at different tiers, in the development of local transport plans, co-ordinating their highway authority and public transport responsibilities. Authorities will need to agree a common or complementary approach on cross-boundary issues.

In both rural and urban areas, the plan will take account of the transport and accessibility needs of local communities and business, in a way that is consistent with the new approach. Local authorities will need actively to involve local people, businesses, transport operators and other organisations such as those providing health care, in drawing up these plans. Guidance on the new arrangements, to be developed in consultation with local authorities and other interested parties, will reflect the importance of such local participation.

We recognise that there would be advantages in making local transport plans statutory and will legislate in due course. However, we are keen to introduce the new arrangements as soon as possible and will aim to do so in England on a non-statutory basis, during 1999 with the first plans covering the financial years 2000/1-2004/5.

Local authorities will be expected to set out in local transport plans their proposals for both capital and revenue expenditure on transport. To reduce central government involvement in local authority decision-making in England, we will use the new plans as a basis for an annual block allocation of credit approvals to spend on transport capital. We will expect local authorities to give due priority to cost-effective maintenance and development of their transport infrastructure to support integrated transport objectives. Consistency with the local development plan and Regional Planning Guidance will also be a factor in decisions on supporting local transport plans. But central government will no longer dictate specifically how resources are deployed. Instead, authorities' plans will be subject to an annual progress check. The importance of local transport plans as part of our strategy is reflected in the provision made for funding local transport over the next few years.
Funding bus services
Effective local bus services will be an essential part of the new policy. Better bus services in urban and rural areas will help to improve alternatives to the car and reduce social exclusion.

The bus industry will benefit significantly from our proposals to strengthen the role of the bus (see Chapter 3). At present around one-quarter of the seats on a bus are occupied on average. An average increase of only two passengers per bus-typically achieved by a Quality Partnership-could generate up to £400 million in revenue for the industry. Such initiatives can also reduce operating costs by improving reliability. In addition, the industry receives a significant level of support-around £1 billion in total this year-through fuel duty rebate (£270 million), direct subsidy (outside London, local authorities spend some £230 million on bus services), and concessionary fares (around £440 million). Taken together, this should produce much greater financial certainty than the industry has had for many years which, together with increasing patronage, will transform the economics of the bus industry.

The Audit Commission is currently looking at local authority revenue support in England and Wales for local transport and travel, including expenditure on locally subsidised bus services and (in the Passenger Transport Authority areas) rail services, home-to-school transport and concessionary fares. In the light of its findings and the wider development of the industry, we will ask the Commission for Integrated Transport to advise us on how to secure best value in the longer term from the public subsidy invested in the bus industry in support of our wider aims.
Reducing social exclusion
We will introduce a national minimum standard for local authority concessionary fares schemes for elderly people with a maximum £5 a year charge for a pass entitling the holder to travel at half fare on buses. This will enable elderly people, especially those on low incomes, to continue to use public transport and to use it more often, improving their access to a range of basic necessities such as health care and shops and reducing social isolation. Local authorities will still be able to offer more generous schemes, if they wish to do so. The change will require legislation.

In urban areas, local authorities will need to explore with operators the scope for extending bus networks so that they provide better access to opportunities for work, and to goods and services, especially for those who live on remote or rundown council estates. Some bus operators have found that it makes commercial sense to offer cheaper fares in such areas. This will help to complement the action we are taking in our New Deal for Communities initiative and the Welfare to Work Scheme, under which some operators have offered discounted fares to help young, unemployed people (see Chapter 5). Local authorities may wish to consider the scope for negotiating with local transport operators, in the context of bus Quality Partnerships, further voluntary concessions for the less well off, especially young, unemployed people as a further means of reducing social exclusion.

Many rural areas are poorly served by public transport: some 20% of rural settlements in England8 are estimated to have a bus service below "subsistence" levels - fewer than four return journeys a day, and no evening/weekend service. Budgetary pressures have constrained some local authorities from buying in additional services to maintain or enhance bus networks and evening/weekend services. In some cases, support is being withdrawn from socially necessary services, particularly in rural areas.

In the March Budget, the Chancellor therefore announced a new Rural Bus Partnership fund of £45 million a year nationally to support bus services in rural areas and a further £5 million a year for our new Rural Transport Partnership scheme (see Chapter 5). The arrangements in Scotland and Wales are being considered separately; in rural Scotland the support for bus services may also extend to other transport modes.

We have recently announced the arrangements for allocating £32.5 million to rural bus services in England, targeting the money on the most rural areas to provide new and additional bus services. The remaining £5 million will be allocated later this year as part of a 'bus challenge' to promote innovative local authority schemes in England, for example, to improve passenger information and services. We will monitor the effectiveness of these new measures with the help of consultants and the Traffic Commissioners. We will ask the Commission for Integrated Transport to advise us on future funding priorities in the light of this monitoring.

We will consult on plans for targeting the enhanced level of Fuel Duty Rebate to support rural bus services and more environmentally-friendly vehicles shortly. Taken together, these additional funds will mark a step change in support for public transport services in rural areas.

The need for better bus services in urban and rural areas highlights the importance of local authorities adopting clear, objective criteria for spending on public transport - to ensure best value for money. For example, in our guidance on the allocation of Rural Bus Partnership funds in England, we highlight the importance of developing public transport networks and ensuring adequate frequency, including the setting of minimum service thresholds.

We will continue to look at other ways to maintain accessibility to services and thus reduce the need to travel long distances. Planning has a role here, for example in promoting the growth of key villages or the regeneration of inner city areas, as part of a package of measures to reduce social exclusion. The local post office/village shop is very important in providing local goods and services in rural areas and we have extended the rate relief scheme to reflect this.

The village school also plays a vital role in rural communities. We want to maintain access for children to local schools: we have therefore announced that all proposals to close rural schools will be called in for decision by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. Under both the present arrangements and the new approach we are proposing for determining school organisation proposals, there will be a presumption against closure. Information and communication technology will open up new possibilities to enrich children's learning and increase the viability of isolated rural schools. Our target is for all schools to be connected to the National Grid for Learning by 2002. By supporting local schools, these initiatives will help to reduce the need to travel in the countryside.

Funding major local transport schemes
Specific funding will have to be identified for major public transport and road schemes based largely on the present arrangements. In bidding for major schemes, local authorities in England will need to demonstrate that the scheme is necessary for achieving the objectives of the local transport plan, and that this cannot be done in other ways. We will use the principles behind the new approach to appraisal (described later in this Chapter) to assess bids for major local authority transport schemes. When they submit bids, we expect local authorities to demonstrate that they have explored the scope for alternative solutions that do not involve major new construction and have taken account of our strong presumption on avoiding sensitive environmental sites. We will expect local authorities to pursue public-private partnerships to finance major schemes where appropriate.
Funding local rail services
All local authorities are able to contract on a voluntary basis with train operators to provide additional services or facilities in their areas and have to fund any net cost increase arising from such services. The Strategic Rail Authority will develop closer relations with local authorities, offering advice on new investment schemes and working in partnership with them to promote the most attractive schemes which encourage the use of rail. In the meantime, in advising on and promoting new schemes, the Franchising Director will build on his existing criteria for assessing the cost and benefits of rail schemes. These criteria give due weight to the social and environmental benefits which railway investment can provide as part of an integrated transport policy.
Changing travel habits
Tackling congestion and pollution on local roads

Many of our towns and cities face significant levels of congestion and pollution which place a burden on business and result in a poor quality of life for people who live and work there. Some rural areas suffer from significant traffic congestion in peak holiday periods and traffic nuisance is a growing problem in the countryside more generally.

A variety of traffic management techniques can be deployed to reduce road traffic in these circumstances. As we have seen in Chapter 3, there is still scope for further and more imaginative use of such measures, combined with improvements in public transport (for example, through Quality Partnerships) to reduce road traffic and the associated pollution, enhancing the attractiveness of urban and rural areas.

But experience has shown that improving public transport and related traffic management measures whilst necessary are not sufficient in many cases. We will therefore introduce legislation to allow local authorities to charge road users so as to reduce congestion, as part of a package of measures in a local transport plan that would include improving public transport. The use of revenues to benefit transport serving the area where charges apply, which in many cases will mean supporting projects in more than one local authority area, will be critical to the success of such schemes.

Carefully designed schemes should reduce traffic mileage and emissions, bringing significant improvements in air quality, reducing noise and greenhouse gas emissions and relieving congestion. This will benefit pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, including more reliable and quicker bus services and more reliable delivery times for freight. Less congestion also means shorter and more reliable journey times for those who continue to drive. Charging will provide a guaranteed income stream to improve transport and support the renaissance of our towns and cities. The availability of a revenue stream will also open up the scope for greater involvement of the private sector working in partnership with local authorities.

In rural areas, road user charging is most likely to be used where there are significant problems caused by very high levels of seasonal traffic, for example, in tourist areas such as the National Parks. We would welcome proposals for such initiatives to provide the basis for pilot schemes in rural areas.

Primary legislation will be needed. Subject to that being in place, we will then work with local authorities and other interested organisations on a number of pilot schemes individually approved by the Secretary of State (in Scotland, by the Scottish Executive). The effects of these schemes will be monitored and used to inform the design of future schemes.

We will issue a consultation document with proposals for how road user charging schemes should operate. This will deal with different ways of implementing charges: electronic schemes, schemes where drivers must buy and display a permit and schemes using tollbooths. It will seek views on how best to ensure the active involvement of local people, business and others in the development of schemes so that proposals attract public support. We will also be seeking views on how such policies will impact on the mobility of disabled people.

Leicester Environmental Road Tolling Scheme

DETR has funded a practical trial of how drivers respond to charging, in Leicester. Key features include:

  • a new, 300 space, Park and Ride site on the A47 radial corridor into the city. Comprehensive package of bus priority measures along the route from the Park and Ride site to the city centre. Peak hour journey time is now appreciably quicker by bus than by car;

  • volunteers have road user charging equipment installed in their cars, and are given a travel cost account. They can use this to pay the road user charge (deducted automatically when they pass a roadside beacon) or the bus fare (regular service or park and ride);

  • the project is looking at reactions to different levels of charge, and different charging periods, to see how people balance time, cost and convenience when deciding how to travel. It will also see whether the response is affected by information about air quality;

  • the final report on the trial is due to be published in September 1998.

London Congestion Charging Study

  • a study for the Government Office for London (July 1995), investigated a range of charging levels and structures for congestion charging in Central London;

  • it was estimated that vehicle miles would fall by 15% and CO2 emissions by 14.5%. Journey reliability for the remaining vehicles, notably bus operations, would improve by some 20%, and journey times would fall by a similar amount;

  • major improvements to public transport services and infrastructure in combination with congestion charging could increase the reduction in vehicle miles still further - to over 20%.

Following the London research, the previous government, in the 1996 Green Paper "Transport: The Way Forward" stated that it would discuss with local authorities and other interested parties how best to take matters forward, with a presumption in favour of introducing legislation to enable congestion charging to be implemented.

Charging users on motorways and trunk roads
Our proposals for legislation to allow road user charging will enable pilot schemes to be developed in a variety of circumstances. Schemes may be developed, for example, to help to meet transport and environmental objectives in urban or rural areas, or on bottlenecks on specific roads or at certain times of the day or year. Such schemes may also be developed on trunk roads and motorways, either on a self-standing basis or as joint schemes with local authorities. Pilot charging schemes will be individually developed and designed to take into account the local transport network, ensuring in particular that unacceptable diversion does not take place onto local roads. We will also consider for each scheme how best a proportion of the revenue generated may be used to provide related benefits which might otherwise be unaffordable, including better means of securing the environmental acceptability of transport infrastructure.

In designing further projects we will consider what lessons can be drawn from projects overseas and from those few instances where tolls are currently levied from road users in this country as a means of funding the infrastructure. Tolls have, for example, been levied for many years on estuarial crossings.

The existing powers to toll road users at Dartford are time limited. The cessation of tolling could, however, have the effect of increasing demand on the Eastern sector of the M25. We will consult on the continuation of road user charging on the Dartford crossings and how best it could contribute to delivering integrated transport policy objectives related to the M25, taking account of the need for effective traffic management and the impact on the local transport network.

On most of the motorway and trunk road network, charging schemes will in general be feasible only with full electronic technology. Further studies are required on the electronic units and on administrative support systems before they may be introduced with confidence. In particular, we need to be satisfied that such systems can cope with high volumes of traffic, travelling at motorway speeds in a way which does not produce unacceptably high error rates in charging users.

We will continue technical trials of electronic systems and carry out further research on their possible effects and how they may best be implemented. These trials will examine such issues as personal privacy, impact on different parts of society and diversion onto untolled roads. An early priority will be work to ensure that, as charging projects are introduced in different parts of the country, vehicles do not require more than one set of in-vehicle equipment. We will continue to work with the European Commission and EU Member States to ensure that the design of charging systems in Europe is compatible.

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