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CALL FOR CLARITY ON TRANSPORT DEMAND MANAGEMENT

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The Commission for Integrated Transport warned today that government and local authority soft-pedalling on demand m...
The Commission for Integrated Transport warned today that government and local authority soft-pedalling on demand management will undermine delivery of the 10 Year Plan for Transport.

Commission chair David Begg said: 'The reality is that, unless we take action to change behaviour at the margins, traffic congestion, particularly in our cities, is only going to get worse. Delivery means a balanced package including both investment and traffic management strategies. We can't build our way out of the congestion problem and good public transport, while an essential prerequisite, is not enough.

'And let's not forget that the government's 10 Year Plan and the commitment to invest£180bn was a positive step forward after decades of drift and decline. We don't want to throw away the gains that delivery will bring for fear of being seen as anti-car. Allowing congestion to grow is the only true anti-motorist policy.'

Publishing the commission's formal report to government on its progress in delivering the Plan, Professor Begg said: 'In what has been an eventful and difficult year, there have been some encouraging developments, the appointment of Richard Bowker as head of the Strategic Rail Authority has provided a focus around which the industry can rally. Putting Railtrack into administration was a brave and necessary step.

'The government has overseen a step change in funding for local transport and there's been a much needed boost for local road maintenance.

'There are other notable successes, access to bus services and community transport in rural areas has increased, air quality targets are being met and road safety is improving. The programme of light rail investment could become a major success story for this country.

'However the signs on demand management are not promising: bus priority measures are not being introduced as widely as necessary and there is a real question mark over delivery of local congestion charging.

'The government's target for reducing congestion in our larger cities is, in part, dependent on 20 local authorities introducing congestion charging and workplace parking charges. That was the assumption in the 10 Year Plan.

'We have to ask: Does the government now support Local Authorities who want to introduce these charges? If so it must stand up and say so. A clear message is needed from across Whitehall. It is up to government to ensure that local authorities and other key stakeholders can unite around the 10 Year Plan.

'The media line that such policies are anti-car appears to have been swallowed without recognising that the population (the majority of whom are motorists) are actually supportive of radical action that will make their daily lives on the roads more comfortable as well as measures that give them an alternative to the car.'

A new MORI survey of 1,725 people for CfIT (published today) shows over half (58%) backing the introduction of congestion charging (with the revenue used to improve public transport)with less than a quarter (23%) against-stronger support than last year.

Congestion charging would bring about important changes in travel behaviour. 66% of drivers faced with a£5 charge to drive into their city centre at peak times would change their travel behaviour. 25% would change all their car journeys; 20% most of them and 21% some of them.

And there is strong support for the introduction of bus lanes and 'red routes' (67% with only 14% against), traffic calming in residential areas (70% in favour with 17% against) and park and ride schemes (82% in favour and 6% against).

26% of car users said they would be very likely to travel more by bus if bus journey times were cut by half. Improved reliability and quicker journeys are dependent on buses being given priority in urban areas.

Notes

1. The CfIT Report 2002: Public Attitudes to Transport in England is available on the CfIT website .

2. MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,725 adults aged 16+, including a boosted sample to 421 in London. All interviews were conducted face-to-face, in home, in 136 Enumeration Districts throughout England between 27 February and 7 April 2002. Data was weighted to reflect the correct geographic and demographic profile of the population.

3. CfIT's Initial Assessment Report on the 10 Year Transport Plan is also available on the CfIT website at:

http://www.cfit.gov.uk/research/10year/index.htm

and an overview can be found at:

http://www.cfit.gov.uk/reports/10year/index.htm

4. A press notice on the survey's findings on the role of the bus in persuading people out of their cars is also available at

http://www.cfit.gov.uk/pn/020508/index.htm

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