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Transport Strategy – Where DfT has got to

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Transport Strategy – Where DfT has got to

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									Transport Strategy – Where DfT has got to

A great wodge of paper has emerged from DfT today reporting on where they are up
to on transport policy in the wake of “Towards a Sustainable Transport
System”(TaSTS) document last October. The route into most of the documents is on
the DfT website, at http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/ .

TaSTS promised a green paper in May this year and a White Paper in December. The
papers today change this: there will be a full consultation exercise (note: not called a
Green Paper) in the autumn and then a framework for “option-generation” in March
(which may or may not be a White Paper). The reason for this is the Climate Change
Bill and the setting of carbon budgets following from it: the Committee on Climate
Change will give their advice on the first three carbon budgets in December, and the
Government will then respond in the March Budget. The work published now “sets
out the position” DfT has reached and invites further comment in advance of the
formal consultation.

The documents published today are as follows:

      A covering letter summarising where DfT have got to on TaSTS and what is
       going on, which is at
       http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/progress/progress.
       This has some useful and important statements about the need to look at non-
       transport as well as transport solutions (e.g. land use planning) to future
       demand, about the need for packages of transport measures to address all the
       goals rather than be focused on one or two, on the importance of reducing the
       need to travel or move goods and on the importance of public health and
       personal safety rather than just safety in the narrow sense. The letter also talks
       about the need to learn from the previous multi-modal studies and the “lengthy
       and unaffordable wish lists” that emerged.
      A matrix of transport challenges, covering the five goals of transport policy.
       http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/challenges/challan
       gesmatrix.pdf Note that the quality of life goal has been changed to
       “enhancing the quality of life and the natural environment” following
       representations about the importance of biodiversity and landscape. The DfT
       have however rejected calls for modal shift to be added as a 6th goal, on the
       grounds that mode shift is a means to an end on climate change, health etc, not
       an end in itself).
      A discussion document about the goals (“Goals narrative”) at
       http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/goals/goalnarrativ
       es.pdf which explains what the stakeholder dialogue has produced. One of the
       big things that comes out of this is an emphasis on “resilience” of transport
       networks to disruption, weather etc, and reliability rather than journey time
       savings. There is also an emphasis on accessibility rather than mobility
       (especially under “equality of opportunity”) and on reducing the need to
       travel.
      All this is underpinned by the comments from stakeholders consulted in the
       last few months. The analysis of stakeholder comments is at:
       http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/comments/comme
    nts.pdf and the list of people DfT talked to is at:
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/list/organisations
   Work on carbon pathways, which is very interesting and for DfT
    groundbreaking. This work – summary at
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/carbon/pathway,
    full report at http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/sustainable/analysis.pdf - is based on
    the National Travel Survey on how people actually travel. Key conclusions
    from it are:
         o The big carbon emissions are in longer distance journeys: 7% of car
             trips are over 25 miles but they account for 38% of CO2 emissions
             from cars, 37% of journeys between 5 and 25 miles = 43% of CO2
             from cars, while 57% of car journeys are under 5 miles but account for
             20% of car emissions,
         o Commuting is big: 24% of CO2 emissions, a lot of longer distance
             journeys, most by (single occupant) car. By contrast school journeys
             are just 4% of CO2 from passenger surface transport modes
         o Freight is 30% of total UK CO2 emissions (we assume they mean from
             transport).
    There is a lot of material on behaviour change and barriers to it – the DfT says
    it’s doing more on this.
   Transport appraisal: the responses to consultation on “refreshing” DfT’s New
    Approach to Appraisal NATA are published at:
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/closed/consulnatarefresh/responses/natare
    sponses.pdf and the Government’s way forward is at
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/tools/tools.pdf.
    Briefly, DfT are proposing some immediate changes on appraisal, including
    guidance on the health benefits of cycling and walking schemes, guidance on
    reliability and also new long term forecasting on future oil prices. All of these
    should be positive. Future changes suggested include revisiting the “shadow
    price of carbon”, giving more detail in the Appraisal Summary Table, a
    “lighter touch” appraisal for smaller schemes and doing more work on
    social/distribution impacts of transport. Many of these will be welcome, and
    some follow the work we and Green Alliance commissioned from consultants
    MTRU. However, the DfT does not appear to be shifting its ground on the
    treatment of transport taxation in appraisal, which our work found was very
    important. The response says merely that new value for money “metrics” will
    be considered. More widely, the response says that DfT are doing more work
    on forecasting and scenario planning, and developing tools for strategic
    appraisal, though the linkages with detailed appraisal seem unclear.
   Public attitudes to transport – research by Phil Goodwin and colleagues
    summarising previous surveys, and also the outcomes of a specially
    commissioned “citizens’ panel”. The summary of this is at
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/tasts/public/public.pdf;
    the detailed review is at
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/scienceresearch/social/evidence.pdf and the
    citizens’ panel research is at
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/scienceresearch/social/citizens.pdf. This is very
    long and detailed but there is very interesting stuff in here, including the extent
    to which people want Government and business to change things: “a
    substantial proportion of drivers say they would like to drive less than they
       do”, with specifics on cost/availability of public transport, strong support for
       reduced speeds in residential areas and increased priority for pedestrians and
       cyclists. Also, people tolerate congestion but (as above) are concerned about
       reliability. The reports find no consensus on aviation, with strong views and
       different figures of support/opposition depending on how the question is
       asked.


Where to now?

The documents prefigure some practical outcomes. First, the framework (or White
Paper) now due in March 2009 will fire the starting gun on a process of “option
generation” which will look at the full range of options for meeting the various goals
and challenges across cities and regions, national networks and international
gateways. For DfT, this feeds into a White Paper in 2012 which will set out long term
transport spending priorities, with detailed programmes for the period 2014-2019 (this
will include the High Level Output Specification for the railways which DfT are
legally obliged to produce every 5 years or so). The documentation includes a lot of
discussion about how this process will work, but it is clear that more work needs
doing. One obvious example: the documents recognise that on “national networks” a
lot of the travel is short distance, so regional and local players will have to be
involved in option generation, but the documents are silent as to how this will happen
in practice, or how to avoid this “becoming so cumbersome that it fails to produce
results” in the covering letter’s own words.

Second, the way the Department appraises transport schemes is being revised as
above, but some of the eternal verities (e.g. the inclusion of fuel tax loss to the
Treasury from public transport schemes) appear to remain unchallenged, though the
assumptions on oil prices appear to be changing. All of this will have an impact on the
option generation process.

Third, the DfT faces an immediate challenge which is the next round of Regional
Funding Allocations, where the English Regional Assemblies, with the Regional
Development Agencies, decide priorities for transport spending in their regions. This
is due to kick off in July with conclusions in March: the documents today imply that
regions (and local authorities through their Local Area Agreements) will have to
contribute to reducing carbon from transport. For many, this will be challenging, but
also a potential lever for NGOs and transport operators.

On aviation, the DfT work justifies current policy – there is seen to be little possibility
of reducing aviation demand, few alternatives are said to be available and even on
carbon emissions the usual stuff about the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is trotted
out but the public attitudes work and some of the carbon pathways work do provide
material for arguing for change.

								
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