Contrasting views at transport meeting
Contrasting views on what the government should prioritise were set out at a recent Transport Practitioners Meeting. Held in central London, it was attended by around 250 transport planning experts from across the UK, Europe and further afield. Philip Gomm, Head of External Relations at the RAC Foundation, asserted that the private motor car can be considered a form of public transport and that good roads benefit not just motorists but everyone including cyclists and pedestrians. He called on government to focus on: road safety measures; better road maintenance, with local authorities who look after 97% of the road network given more resources to maintain local roads properly; ensuring the strategic road network remains well-funded; and addressing the shortage of engineers/technical expertise the country needs for new infrastructure.
By contrast, Stephen Joseph, Executive Director of Campaign for Better Transport, focused on the governance of transport. He called for: more devolution of transport to PTEs and Combined Authorities; integration of transport and planning in a revived national planning framework with more power for local authorities; proper funding for sustainable transport; road demand managed through road pricing, including for road freight as well as the private motorist and a review of new roads spending; and ‘proper pricing’ of transport to include simpler fares and more car parking charges to encourage public transport.
Transport commentator, London Mayoral candidate and author, Christian Wolmar, argued for: a properly funded cycling policy; HS2 to be scrapped but an ‘HS3’ fast rail line to link cities in northern England; restoration of bus regulation in towns and cities outside London; revitalisation of the 20 tram schemes; and transport spend maintained in London to keep the capital moving, with benefits for the rest of the country.