Fleet News

Dismal failure by transport chiefs

UK TRANSPORT bosses have been accused of failing to meet targets in what is described as a ‘terrible picture of failure’. The missed targets include cutting road congestion, said to cost British businesses up to £20 billion a year, reducing CO2 emissions, increasing public transport use and improving air quality.

Of its seven public service agreement (PSA) targets, the Department for Transport is meeting only two – those for road safety and rail punctuality.

A report by the Commons Transport Committee, made up of a group of MPs, says: ‘The government describes the PSA targets as a contract between the public and government. Given this picture of failure, we suggest the public should consider the contract unfulfilled or that the targets are no more than aspirations should be abandoned.

‘Targets should not be something visited once a year in performance reports – they should steer the focus and energies of the department throughout the period to which they relate. The department’s record of poor performance against its targets indicates that it neglects to do so.’

The report praises transport officials for their efforts on road safety, saying they were on course to meet their road casualty reduction targets.

It says: ‘Although the progress in casualty reduction is encouraging, the overall death and injury rate is still high – with 32,155 people killed or seriously injured in 2005 –and continual efforts must be made to prevent road casualties.’

The committee recognised that the government three-year Road Safety Review would be produced in April but said it would be concerned if measures to further tackle road deaths were put on hold until then.

On vehicle efficiency, the committee also called on the DfT to lead the way by ensuring its own fleet of vehicles and those of its executive agencies meet the highest efficiency standards.

And in its report, the committee backed the idea of introducing road-pricing experiments on the most congested roads.

This comes at a time when a petition calling for the scrapping of road pricing attracted more than 1.3 million signatures.

The report damned the government’s target for major road congestion, to ‘strive for any improvement by 2007-08’, as weak.

The report said: ‘Failing against a road congestion target with such a weak ambition is in itself disappointing. If the target for strategic roads is to be met, the department and the Highways Agency will have to implement a full package of bold measures.

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