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SCRUTINEER - VOCAL POINT

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Support from the public and government is vital if we are to improve public transport, says Nicky Gavron ...
Support from the public and government is vital if we are to improve public transport, says Nicky Gavron

Transport has moved from the sidelines to the centre stage of British politics. After many years involved with transport and land use planning, I know with certainty that, despite the demands of the popular press, there are no quick fixes.

The Labour government bit this bullet in its first term. The white paper on integrated transport started the process. The setting up of the CfIT secured independent advice, and the Ten year transport plan, launched in the early days of 2001, heralded an investment programme of£180bn over 10 years, a 50% increase in real terms.

Since then, events have brought home the problem's scale and in May two reports were published. The first was CfIT's initial assessment of the plan. The second was the Commons Transport select committee report.

Delivery means a balanced package including long-term investment and shorter-term strategies for traffic management. We cannot build our way out of the congestion problem. Good public transport is vital but not enough on its own. However, allowing the cost of public transport to increase when motoring costs will fall by 20% gives all the wrong signals.

The select committee report recommends the ten year plan draw together all aspects of transport policy, not just capital investment but revenue support, education and enforcement too.

London is leading on congestion charges, recognised by the RAC Foundation as a part of the solution, and I look forward to government support for the city. We are promoting major new public transport infrastructure schemes for the longer term together with new and improved bus, guided bus and tram services and traffic management, which can be delivered more quickly.

The media line that such policies are anti-car appears to have been swallowed without recognising that most of the population actually support radical action.

It is vital the ten year plan delivers in London. This is both a challenge and a spectacular prize, but it needs the government's commitment to the plan's principles to be reaffirmed.

Nicky Gavron (lab)

Deputy mayor, Greater London Authority

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