Fleet News

Blair's vision – a stress-free transport system for Britain

IN a report stretching across 138 pages, the Government sets out its plans to ensure motorists enjoy journeys that are safe, predictable and stress-free in the next 20-30 years.

The Future of Transport White Paper lists key areas in which the Government aims to tackle congestion and improve the UK's overall transport system. Roads, rail, taxis and public transport are all included and details of what the Government claims it has already done to help solve the problem are also featured.

In a foreword, Prime Minister Tony Blair says: 'This document sets out our vision for transport for the next 30 years with a funding commitment, at record levels, until 2015.

'The challenge we are setting ourselves is a tough one, but we will move even further and faster if we can.

'Our strategy takes a balanced approach. Where it makes economic sense, and is realistic environmentally, we will provide additional transport capacity.

'We want to see Crossrail in London, road widening and bypasses to tackle the worst areas of congestion, better bus services in our urban and rural areas and many other improvements.' But Blair admits: 'There is no quick fix to Britain's transport challenges.

'The long-term solution lies in the sustained programme of investment and innovation started under this administration and the courage to continue to take difficult decisions. That is what this strategy sets out.'

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling blamed the challenge faced by the Government on 'decades of under-investment in our transport infrastructure.

Successive governments have failed to devote sufficient resources to maintaining and modernising our transport network. Meanwhile, ageing and over-stressed networks have been asked to cope with levels for travel never anticipated when they were designed.'

The Government says it is currently planning 80 major new schemes to increase capacity on the road network, such as the widening of the M1 and M25.

Its new strategy is based on three themes:

  • Sustained investment over the long term
  • Improvements in transport management
  • Planning ahead

    But as reported in last week's issue of Fleet News, the Government's vision of transport in the UK over the next 30 years has been criticised as vague and lacking in firm commitment.

    The RAC Foundation said it was disappointed in the lack of detail in the white paper and the Road Users' Alliance (RUA) said it was 'crucial that the strategic road network was properly identified and completed quickly.'

  • To download the full report, visit www.dft.gov.uk/strategy/ futureoftransport/TransportStrategy.pdf

  • What do you think? Email fleetnews@emap.com

    Toll road plans

    THE Government has described the projected increase of traffic on UK roads as unacceptable.

    The White Paper said: 'As well as being frustrating for those caught in queues, it is exacting a growing economic cost. Time spent in jams is not available for other activities and adds problems to business of unpredictability and increased duration to journeys.

    'If we are to make a step change in the quality of service provided to road users, we need – in addition to the policies already in place – to revisit the way we pay for using the road network. We are already used to paying for using telephones in ways which reflect the demand on the telephone network – more when it is busy, less at other times. And with that principle established, companies are able to offer a variety of packages to suit individuals' patterns of use,' it adds.

    The Government believes road charging schemes will 'incentivise smarter individual choice about when and how we travel'.

    'We know there are acceptable alternatives for some people and even relatively few people changing behaviour in response to pricing makes a substantial difference to congestion,' the paper said.

    A number of different options are currently being discussed, including a distance charge based on a system fitted in all cars, toll roads and national charging schemes.

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