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Traffic jam

Traffic jam: Ten years of 'sustainable' transport in the UK

Iain Docherty
Jon Shaw
Foreword by Christian Wolmar
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  • Book Info
    Traffic jam
    Book Description:

    This informed and lively book offers a timely analysis of the UK government's sustainable - or subsequently 'integrated' - transport policy 10 years after the publication of A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone. Written by prominent transport experts and with a foreword by Christian Wolmar, the book identifies the modest successes and, sadly, the far more significant failures in government policy over the last decade. The authors also uncover why it has proved so difficult to adopt a more sustainable approach to transport and break Britain's love-affair with the car. The book reviews the links between the idea of sustainability and transport policy, and provides an up-to-the-minute analysis of the political realities surrounding the delivery of a sustainable transport agenda in the UK. It picks up on the principal components of A New Deal for Transport and evaluates to what extent these have, or haven't, been delivered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The contributors analyse why delivering sustainable transport policies seems to present particular difficulties to ministers across the UK, and considers the UK's experience in an international perspective. The book draws lessons from the last 10 years in order to better inform future policy development. Traffic Jam is an indispensable analysis of the difficulties involved in turning policy ideals into practical reality, and as such will be of interest to scholars, students, planners, policy analysts and policy makers.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-369-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. List of tables, figures and boxes
    (pp. vi-vii)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. viii-x)
    Christian Wolmar

    Trying to find evidence of a coherent transport policy when examining the record of the first decade of the Labour government is rather like attempting to ring up a person whose obituary you have just read in a newspaper. There may have been something approaching a policy once, but there is precious little trace of it now.

    Transport was the area in which the Blair governments least exerted themselves and there is little evidence that this is changing under Gordon Brown. There are good short-term political reasons for this. Transport is a long-term issue that delivers little in the lifetime...

  3. Preface and acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xv)
    Iain Docherty and Jon Shaw
  4. Part One: Policy and politics

    • ONE New deal or no new deal? A decade of ‘sustainable’ transport in the UK
      (pp. 3-28)
      Jon Shaw and Iain Docherty

      The Blair government’sNew deal for transport(DETR, 1998a) was born in a wave of optimism in the 1990s. The New Deal moniker was in fact employed by New Labour across a range of policy areas to demonstrate the return of proactive state intervention and social conscience to politics after 17 years of neoliberal-inspired marketisation under the Conservatives (Giddens, 2000). It was not exactly Keynesian in character, however, emphasising the virtues of a ‘Third Way’ arguably closer to Milton Friedman than either Keynes or J. K. Galbraith, Friedman’s celebrated intellectual opponents. Indeed, although the New Deal programmes were – like...

    • TWO Devolution and the UK’s new transport policy landscape
      (pp. 29-48)
      Danny MacKinnon and Geoff Vigar

      Transport policy making has become increasingly complex in recent years as various ‘intermediate’ levels of governance between local authorities and central government have acquired a new prominence. In particular, the introduction of devolution has created new elected administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the English regions have also become more important as administrative units. Such transfers of power have not entirely satisfied arguments for reforming transport governance, however, as we demonstrate in this chapter. The emergence of new governing bodies raises important questions about the extent to which policies diverge and/or converge between jurisdictions, since there can be...

  5. Part Two: Progress in policy implementation

    • THREE Roads and traffic: from ‘predict and provide’ to ‘making best use’
      (pp. 51-74)
      Graham Parkhurst and Geoff Dudley

      ‘Predict and provide’ can be defined as calculating how much unconstrained demand for road travel exists and adopting policy measures and providing funding streams to deliver the required capacity. As a concept, it effectively summarises government policy towards roads for much of the second half of the 20th century, but is perhaps most closely associated with the Conservatives’ White PaperRoads for prosperity(DoT, 1989) and subsequent roads expansion programme. Walton (2003) felt able to consign predict and provide to the bin of discredited policies, although he was less than complementary about what he saw as the ‘pragmatic multimodalism’ (Shaw...

    • FOUR Is Labour delivering a sustainable railway?
      (pp. 75-96)
      John Preston

      On one level, the railways under New Labour seem a runaway success. In the 10 years since the administration took control, passenger kilometres carried by the national rail network have increased by over 40% and freight tonne kilometres have increased by more than 70% (ORR, 2007). Yet this does not seem consistent with the continual reforms to the industry that have been undertaken by the government. The 2000 Transport Act provided the legal basis for the establishment of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), whileTransport 2010: The 10-year plan(DETR, 2000) established performance targets and investment levels for rail (see...

    • FIVE Buses and light rail: stalled en route?
      (pp. 97-116)
      Richard D. Knowles and Pedro Abrantes

      Better-quality public transport was heralded by incoming Labour ministers as the key to persuading some car users to switch modes for some journeys, thereby reducing car use and urban traffic congestion (DETR, 1997, 1998). As large-scale improvement was needed quickly, the main focus was on buses, which are the main mode of local public transport everywhere except in Central and Inner London. The image change sought was encapsulated in the title of the buses policy documentFrom workhorse to thoroughbred(DETR, 1999), and Quality Partnerships (QPs) were seen as the way to produce better local bus services and reverse the...

    • SIX Walking and cycling: easy wins for a sustainable transport policy?
      (pp. 117-138)
      Rodney Tolley

      Given that walking and cycling require little collective intervention to make possible, beyond the manufacture of shoes, clothing and bicycles and the construction and maintenance of basic infrastructure, it is not surprising that they are often regarded as the most obvious candidates for modes satisfying Bill Black’s definition of sustainable transport as ‘transport that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (Black, 1996, after the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). Yet it could easily be argued that this substantially underplays the worth of these simple yet highly...

    • SEVEN UK air travel: taking off for growth?
      (pp. 139-160)
      Brian Graham

      The publication of the White PaperA new deal for transport(DETR, 1998) presaged a period of intensive study into the UK air transport industry that, by way of the interim consultation paper on air transport policy,The future of aviation(DETR, 2000), culminated in the 2003 White Paper,The future of air transport(DfT, 2003). The last of these itself generated a further raft of studies in advance of theAir transport White Paper progress report(DfT, 2006). These key documents and their supporting papers are characterised by several recurring themes. First, the issue of airport capacity, and particularly...

    • EIGHT Economic versus environmental sustainability for ports and shipping: charting a new course?
      (pp. 161-180)
      David Pinder

      The UK port system has long been positioned on the crucial interface between the interests of the economy and those of the environment. On the one hand, it is imperative that the national economy is served by ports with both the capacity and the efficiency to ensure the uninterrupted progress of trade. Continuing globalisation strongly underlines this, with the Asian trades currently representing 46% of UK containerised traffic and external energy dependence an increasing feature. On the other hand, however, ports and their associated shipping have been responsible for extensive long-term environmental damage around our coasts. Increasing vessel sizes, driven...

  6. Part Three: Ten years since A new deal for transport – signposts to the UK’s transport future?

    • NINE Transport for London: success despite Westminster?
      (pp. 183-204)
      Peter White

      London has always differed in many respects from the rest of the UK. Not only is it the largest conurbation – matched only within Europe by Paris – but it has a far greater dependency on rail systems, and a high level of public transport use. Its economy differs substantially, notably through the major role played by financial and business services. While manufacturing was important in the past, it is now negligible, employment being dominated almost wholly by the service sector. In recent years, these differences have become more marked, with public transport usage growing substantially from an already high...

    • TEN Mind the gap! The UK’s record in European perspective
      (pp. 205-230)
      Tom Rye

      The purpose of this chapter is to consider the changes in transport ‘on the ground’ in the 10 years sinceA new deal for transport(DETR, 1998), in comparison with what other European countries have achieved. In other words, at the local and national scales, what real changes to transport have there been that people notice and hence that influence their travel behaviour? How far have policy objectives such as reduced congestion and cardon dioxide (CO2) emissions been achieved? In answering such questions, the chapter marshals a range of evidence. It first outlines factors that are widely considered capable of...

    • ELEVEN Traffic jam? Policy debates after 10 years of ‘sustainable’ transport
      (pp. 231-240)
      Phil Goodwin

      There seems little doubt that in the last decade the UK government has made, or overseen, or put in place new institutional arrangements for, many sensible improvements to travel arrangements in British cities and across the country as a whole. At the same time, it is also unarguable that even many of those accepting this view make very sharp criticism of the pace, consistency, logic and cost-effectiveness of what has been done. And this is also unarguably not only a criticism that ‘the government should do more and explain itself better’: there is also criticism of the direction of change....