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

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More and better buses
Buses are already the workhorses of the public transport system and in many parts of the country they are the only form of public transport. Increasingly they will become the focus of an efficient transport system that gets people to where they want to be quickly and comfortably, without having to rely on cars.

But people will not switch from the comfort of their cars to buses that are old, dirty, unreliable and slow. Too often buses have been treated and seen as 'second class' transport. It doesn't have to be like this and is certainly not the case in many other European countries.

As part of the New Deal for transport we want better buses - clean, comfortable and convenient. Bus lanes and other priority measures will help to get buses running on time. A first-rate and modern bus industry will make an important and cost-effective contribution to tackling congestion and pollution at the local level. By giving buses greater priority and improving information and networks, we can encourage more people to use buses. Increasing passenger numbers could transform the economics of bus operations, opening new horizons in quality, reliability and network expansion.

Quality Partnerships

Quality Partnerships have been developed in a number of towns and cities, eg in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh, Ipswich, Leeds and Swansea. They:

  1. include features such as new, higher quality and more accessible buses;

  2. have increased patronage by 10-20% and by up to 40% with bus segregation and substantial improvements in infrastructure;

  3. carry new passengers who previously used cars and taxis as well as those who walked.

Quality Partnerships can also be successful in rural areas, eg in Pwllheli, North Wales, where:

  1. a quality bus network has been maintained and patronage has remained buoyant thanks to Gwynedd Council working closely with bus operators, many of them small local firms;

  2. bus subsidy support has been combined with payments for school children's tickets (schools transport under the Education Act) and has prompted better services from operators including investment in new vehicles.

The most significant improvements in bus services recently have been achieved through co-operation between local authorities and operators under 'Quality Partnerships'. In these partnerships, the local authority provides traffic management schemes which assist bus services (bus lanes, priority at junctions, park and ride). The bus operator offers better quality (in terms of comfort, 'greenness,' accessibility and staff training), improved marketing, better integration and more reliable services.

Quality Partnerships work but they need to be more widespread and put on a firm footing. We will therefore introduce legislation to put these partnerships on a statutory basis. This will enable local authorities to require operators to meet certain standards of service quality in order to use the facilities provided by the local authority as part of the Quality Partnership. This will give local authorities greater influence over the provision of bus services and their marketing, and will enable them to encourage the provision of easy access buses.

Quality Partnerships should be for rural as well as urban areas, although a rural Quality Partnership might well look different. It might feature improved bus stops and information as well as higher quality vehicles, rather than traffic management. We have already made significant strides in improving bus services in the countryside and more Quality Partnerships will help. We set out our proposals for rural bus services in Chapter 4.

We will clarify local authorities' powers to buy in extra services to boost frequencies on a particular route or corridor. This will help to make bus use more attractive, particularly to those who would otherwise use cars.

In some circumstances, strengthened Quality Partnerships may not be sufficient to guarantee the necessary improvements. We will therefore introduce primary legislation to give powers to local authorities, where it is in the public interest, to enter into Quality Contracts for bus services. Quality Contracts would mark a real change from the present and would involve operators bidding for exclusive rights to run bus services on a route or group of routes, on the basis of a local authority service specification and performance targets. We will apply the experience from the best value approach to contracting which we are introducing to improve the quality and efficiency of services in local government. Quality Contracts will be subject to Ministerial consent for each local authority that wished to adopt such an approach (and following devolution, the consent of the National Assembly for Wales or the Scottish Executive).

The circumstances in which Quality Contracts might be considered will be the subject of national guidance, drawn up in consultation with local government. Initially, a small number of pilots could be used to demonstrate the contribution of Quality Contracts to developing bus networks and responding to what the passenger wants.

Putting buses first

The Leeds 'guided bus':

'Greenways' in Edinburgh:

  • in the first six months of operation average bus journey times cut by 25% on the all-day Leith Greenway and by 10% on the peak hour Corstorphine route;

  • an additional 250,000 passengers travelled on Lothian Region Transport buses running on the Corstorphine and Leith Walk Greenways.

Listening to the passenger is an important part of the New Deal for transport. We therefore welcome the recent initiative by the Confederation of Passenger Transport to establish an independent Bus Appeals Body to handle bus passenger complaints outside London not resolved direct with operators. In London, this task falls to the London Regional Passengers' Committee.

We want a wider role for the Traffic Commissioners in strengthening the passenger voice. The Traffic Commissioners have an important independent oversight of the bus registration system and in licensing operators as fit and proper persons to operate bus services. We are considering with the Traffic Commissioners how best their role might be enhanced in delivering integrated transport.

Innovation is an important part of providing better bus services. For example, the use of smaller buses has become increasingly common. They can get to places where the traditional double-deckers would be inappropriate; they can provide more frequent services; and they can exploit niche markets that only require small buses. Taxis can also act as small buses although the use of the powers in the 1985 Transport Act has been disappointingly low. Local authorities will need to assess the potential for smaller buses and taxi buses, particularly in rural areas, when preparing their local transport plans.

Making a difference for the public transport passenger

  • more and better buses and trains, with staff trained in customer care

  • new Strategic Rail Authority to:

  • promote better integration and interchange

  • promote better integration and interchange

  • new passenger dividends from passenger railway companies, including more effective penalties to improve reliability and punctuality

  • tougher rail regulation to serve the public interest:

  • ensuring that the private sector honours its commitments to deliver a modern and efficient railway

  • a stronger voice for the passenger

  • better information, before and when travelling; including a national public transport information system by 2000

  • better interchanges and better connections

  • enhanced networks with simplified fares and better marketing, including more through-ticketing and travelcards

  • more reliable buses through priority measures and reduced congestion

  • cash boost for rural transport

  • half price fares or lower, for elderly people on buses

  • improved personal security when travelling

  • easy-access public transport - helping disabled and elderly people, and making it easier for everyone to use

We have also seen innovation in the structure of bus fares. For example, Magicbuses in Manchester have cheaper fares but are less luxurious than other buses on the same routes. Magicbus fares are typically 20% cheaper than alternative services. Results show that some passengers wait for a Magicbus, letting the better quality bus go. Others let the Magicbus go and prefer a better quality bus. Our proposals on fares are explained in Chapter 4.

A better railway
With the New Deal for transport there is the potential for a railway renaissance. But this will not be possible with the weaknesses arising from the fragmentation of the rail industry. We will therefore establish a national Strategic Rail Authority for Great Britain, to provide a clear, coherent and strategic programme for the development of our railways. This proposal is explained in Chapter 4, together with our new approach to franchising and investment in rail.


Passenger rail services in Great Britain are provided by 25 franchised train operating companies, owned by 12 different franchisees, four of whom are also major operators of bus services. Recent performance of the privatised railway has not been good. But there is clearly scope for increased use of the passenger railway. The franchise bids of the train operating companies forecast demand growth of nearly 25% in terms of passenger mileage by 2002/03 with the strongest growth in the inter-city market.

In 1997 we revised the objectives of the Franchising Director to put the passenger first. We welcome the steps now being taken by some operators to put more emphasis on passengers' needs and increased service frequencies, especially where this reduces overcrowding and encourages new passengers. The benefits of our new approach are already beginning to show. For example, the 'passenger dividend' from Thames Trains includes station improvements, a new Oxford-Bristol service and new bus/rail and bike/rail integration.

Faster journey times can encourage greater use. That is why we welcome improvements such as the modernisation of the West Coast Main Line. Together with the up-grading there is the commitment to allow for faster, tilting trains, to which the Virgin Rail Group is guaranteeing substantial investment. Such improvement programmes can produce greater reliability and shorter journey times, thereby making rail a more attractive transport option.

Fare choice

  • LTS has offered 25% off the weekly peak time ticket price on "Early Bird" trains from selected stations between Southend and London. Fares have been reduced for passengers travelling between 6.30am and 7am - encouraging commuters to switch from their cars when there is the capacity to carry them quickly and comfortably into the City;

  • Chiltern Railways has an easy payment plan that spreads the cost of an annual season ticket over ten monthly direct debit payments.

The ability of the railway to cope with the increase in passenger demand that we wish to see will depend in part on the pace of infrastructure works and rolling stock improvements. Some inter-city routes can increase rail capacity substantially at relatively short notice and at moderate cost, using longer trains and platforms, more trains and improved signalling. Other operators are constrained by infrastructure pinch-points that are already operating at or close to capacity.

Railtrack has recently identified 15 key bottlenecks on the rail network, together with possible solutions, in its 1998 Network Management Statement (see map at Annex F). Railtrack is evaluating these pinch-points and estimates that its programme for solving these congestion problems could be complete by 2006. We welcome the Rail Regulator's examination of Railtrack's Statement against the obligations in its licence. In particular, he is investigating the sufficiency of:

  • Railtrack's commitments to improved day-to-day performance of passenger and freight services;

  • committed plans to deal with bottlenecks on the network;

  • committed projects to renew and develop the network;

  • committed plans to meet the requirements of freight.


We can move more freight by rail, relieving pressure on the road network and bringing environmental benefits. The main rail freight operator, English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS), has an aspirational target of doubling its traffic measured by tonne-kilometres over five years and tripling it over ten. Freightliner, which specialises in the haulage of containers between deep sea ports and inland terminals, aims to increase the volume of containers carried by 50% over five years.

We endorse these targets. Overall, reaching them could mean that in 2010 the share of freight going by road3 was 10% lower than is currently forecast. For every percentage point reduction in road freight that is achieved some 1,000 to 2,000 heavy lorries could be taken off our roads. But we also wish to see improvements to the passenger railway, which must be balanced against the needs of freight customers. We will therefore ask the Strategic Rail Authority to develop targets for both the freight and passenger railway in order that we secure the maximum benefit overall from our rail network. In the meantime, we will continue to work towards our objective of moving more freight by rail and towards the targets set by the industry.

Rail freight starting to grow

  • 277,000 tonnes of steel products switching from road to rail, with up to an additional five trains per week from Llanwern in south Wales to Wolverhampton Steel Terminal;

  • tenfold increase in wagonload business (Enterprise service) between 1994 and 1997. New 75 mph Anglo-Scottish service five days a week;

  • new flows of palletised goods for supermarket and chemist chain stores;

  • new traffic within the last year from ports such as Workington, Boston, Ipswich, Goole, Immingham and Hull;

  • operators and local authorities discussing potential traffic involving ports such as Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Kings Lynn.

We have already made a start on helping to create the right conditions for the revival of rail freight. We have more than doubled expenditure on freight grants. We have negotiated with the French Government and Eurotunnel arrangements to ease access of rail freight through the Channel Tunnel and beyond. Our concordat with the Rail Regulator emphasises the importance of promoting rail freight; the Regulator has secured the creation of extra rail freight capacity on the West Coast Main Line as part of his consideration of plans for a major passenger upgrade. Looking ahead, the Strategic Rail Authority will ensure that freight is given proper consideration in the operation and planning of the network; and to the obstacles to growth, as highlighted by EWS in its evidence to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee4, and which include loading gauge, track capacity constraints, and access to additional land.

We will issue revised planning guidance (see Chapter 4) to facilitate more freight to be moved by rail. Local authorities in preparing development plans will be expected to consider, and where appropriate protect, opportunities for rail connections to existing manufacturing, distribution and warehousing sites adjacent or close to the rail network and allocate sites for suitable new developments which can be served by rail.


In drawing up local transport plans, local authorities will take account of the potential contribution of rail (both conventional and light rail) to their strategies for reducing car use. The potential is likely to vary significantly between different types of authority and whether they serve urban or rural areas.

Light rail, and similar rapid transit systems, can have a role to play in delivering integrated transport in urban areas - particularly if planned as part of an overall strategy. The capital costs of light rail systems are, however, high - particularly in comparison to bus priority measures and more modest guided bus schemes which may offer a more cost-effective alternative.

Greater Manchester Metrolink

  • runs mainly along an old heavy rail corridor replacing two heavy rail services (Altrincham to Manchester Piccadilly and Bury to Manchester Victoria) providing a rail link into and through the city centre;

  • at a cost of £150 million (around one third of which would have been required to keep existing rail lines open), it carries 14 million passengers a year;

  • passenger numbers are up on the old heavy rail and there is clear evidence of some switch from car use;

  • Metrolink, owned by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive was built under a Design Build Operate Maintain contract. Altram (Manchester) Ltd, a private sector consortium operates the system and will operate the extension to Salford Quays and Eccles due to open by the end of 2000.

In due course, we shall expect local authorities wishing to develop light rail systems, to use revenues from new congestion charging schemes or parking levies as a source of funding for such systems (see Chapter 4). In the meantime we believe that resources available for funding local authority capital expenditure on transport can, in general, be used more productively supporting packages of more modest measures which spread benefits more widely. Funding for new major light rail schemes will therefore not be a priority and schemes will be supported only if they represent good value for money and form an integral and necessary part of a strategy in a local transport plan - demonstrating clearly that the objectives of the plan cannot be met in alternative ways. We would also expect local authorities to develop public-private partnerships to take forward such schemes wherever it is sensible to do so.

Women and Transport

Women's transport needs are often different. Although they make about the same number of journeys on average as men, these are shorter and they walk and use public transport, especially buses, more. Men are more likely to have first call on the car in a one car household. Many women have concerns about their personal security, particularly when on their own and at night.
Our New Deal for transport will mean for women:

  • greater emphasis on integrated transport, including more accessible buses, better information and safer interchanges;

  • safer public transport, including the Secure Stations Scheme;

  • improving the quality of the pedestrian environment, eg making it easier for women with children in prams to get about;

  • land use policies to encourage local services, reducing the need to travel by car;

  • women's transport needs to be assessed in local transport plans and through auditing transport initiatives;

  • safer routes to school initiatives;

  • Commission for Integrated Transport to take full account of women's transport needs.

Better for the motorist
The New Deal for transport gives people more choice about when and where to use their car. We want to ensure the alternatives are real and attractive. Our new approach is about widening choice, not forcing people out of their cars when using a car is their preferred option. Our transport system does not always serve the motorist well, as has been underlined by motorists' organisations in their responses to our consultation. This is why we are introducing a New Deal for the motorist. The New Deal includes more reliable journeys from better maintained roads, improved management of the network and a targeted programme of investment.

We want to see more opportunities for cars to be used as part of an integrated transport system. We are therefore encouraging park and ride facilities to town centres to help beat congestion and at railway stations to make for easier long-distance travel.

Moving freight
We are extending choice to all users of transport. Our proposals for sustainable distribution, described later in this Chapter, will provide greater choice for moving freight, to promote a more efficient industry and a better environment. There will be new opportunities for distribution in town and city centres, as vehicles become quieter and cleaner. Quality Partnerships for freight will produce local solutions to local problems. We will promote the role of rail freight, inland waterways and coastal shipping in the movement of goods, providing a real alternative to moving freight by road.
Getting to the airport
We set out later in this Chapter how the New Deal for transport will make it easier to get to airports by public transport. People should not have to use their car for journeys when they don't want to.

We want to see more choice for passengers in a way that improves the environment. Our proposals to encourage international access to regional airports will reduce reliance on the London airports, cut the length of surface journeys and increase convenience for the passenger.

The role of motorcycling
Mopeds and motorcycles can provide an alternative means of transport for many trips. Where public transport is limited and walking unrealistic, for example in rural areas, motorcycling can provide an affordable alternative to the car, bring benefits to the individual and widen their employment opportunities.

Whether there are benefits for the environment and for congestion from motorcycling depends on the purpose of the journey, the size of motorcycle used and the type of transport that the rider has switched from. Mopeds and small motorcycles may produce benefits if they substitute for car use but not if people switch from walking, cycling or public transport.

The role of motorcycling in an integrated transport policy raises some important and complex issues. We are therefore setting up an advisory group to bring together motorcycle interests and other interested parties. This will allow discussion of issues of concern to those who ride motorcycles and of the ways we can work together on policies, including encouraging further improvements in the safety and environmental impact of motorcycling.

In drawing up their local transport plans, local authorities should take account of the contribution that motorcycling can make and consider specific measures to assist motorcyclists, such as secure parking at public transport interchange sites. We would welcome proposals from local authorities interested in conducting properly monitored pilot studies of the use of bus lanes by motorcycles, to help inform decisions on whether there is a case for motorcyclists to be allowed to use bus lanes.

More integrated public transport

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