The Future of Transport White Paper lists key areas the Government intends to focus on to improve transport, as well as charting its claimed successes so far.
According to the report, accomplishments so far include tackling congestion by introducing trained officers to get traffic moving again on strategic roads, investing in new capacity with 18 major strategic road schemes, reducing the impact of major roadworks on traffic flow, improving the response to winter weather and ‘promoting better ways of travelling through initiatives such as workplace and school travel plans and marketing to encourage people to choose alternatives to their cars for some journeys.’
It also added that introducing tax and grant incentives – such as the emissions-based company car tax – had encouraged people to switch to cleaner vehicles and that it was working with the industry and the European Union to ensure that emissions of air pollutants and carbon dioxide from new cars continually decrease.
But Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘The RAC Foundation welcomes the debate on road pricing but is disappointed in the lack of detail in the White Paper. Roads are by far the most important mode of transport in this country and will continue to be so in the next 30 years.
‘We need to see firm plans, timetables and targeted expenditure to facilitate much-needed improvements to the road infrastructure over the next couple of decades.
‘Motorists are becoming increasingly frustrated by the growing congestion on our roads and the economy is suffering as a result, with congestion costing the country at least £15 billion a year. As a result, the RAC Foundation has identified a list of urgently needed improvements to the strategic road network, which at a cost of about £2 billion a year over 10 years could all be paid for out of one year’s motoring taxation.
‘Strategic roads are the core of the national transport system, but without investment the network will soon crumble under the pressures of congestion. We claim to be the fourth largest economy in the world and yet we have one of the worst congestion records in Europe.’
Tim Green, director of the Road Users’ Alliance, said: ‘The Government is absolutely right to commit to longer-term transport planning. Increased investment in transport is welcomed. Improvement in public transport is also welcomed but it will not solve the fundamental problem. Rail can never be expected to replace more than a minimal amount of road traffic.
‘It is absolutely crucial that the strategic road network is properly identified and completed quickly. The feasibility study mentions more road capacity as one of the means of tackling congestion but simply tinkering at the edges will not help.’