Memorandum by Greater Manchester Passenger
Transport Authority and Executive (TYP 31)
1.1 Greater Manchester Passenger Transport
Authority and Executive are pleased to submit evidence to the
Transport Sub-committee for consideration in its inquiry into
progress towards delivering the improvements set out in the 10
1.2 The Passenger Transport Authority is
responsible for public transport policy in Greater Manchester,
Procuring socially necessary bus
services which cannot be provided commercially.
Specifying the level and quality
of services on the local train and tram (Metrolink) networks.
Providing the concessionary fares
Providing bus stations, shelters
and stops and travel information.
Planning the long-term development
of the public transport network.
1.3 The Authority comprises 33 Councillors
who are appointed by the 10 district councils of Greater Manchester.
The Executive puts these policies into practice and provides the
Authority with expert professional advice to enable it to make
appropriate and informed decisions.
1.4 The Transport Act 2000 determined that
the Passenger Transport Authority should be the designated Local
Transport Authority for Greater Manchester.
1.5 In this memorandum the Authority and
Executive has sought to address the 16 questions raised in Press
Notice 22/2001-02 dated 5 December 2001.
2. OVERALL COMMENTS
2.1 The Authority and Executive welcomed
the publication of the 10 Year Plan and the commitment to increase
the level of transport spending, particularly the emphasis on
public transport initiatives and the increased funding for Local
Transport Plans that will help achieve our wider social and economic
objectives. Our Local Transport Plan stresses the importance of
an efficient transport system in order to secure our wider economic
and urban regeneration objectives for the County. We see a need
to invest in both public and private transport facilities so as
to address the problems in urban areas arising from increased
use of the private car, particularly environmental concerns and
social exclusion concerns. But, we will seek to do this in ways
that do not compromise the continued economic development of Greater
Manchester and that recognise that the interests of the residents
of Greater Manchester will be best served by widening travel choice
2.2 One of our greatest concerns is that
delivery of the 10 Year Plan targets cannot be achieved through
investment alone and needs higher revenue expenditure to support
such investments. This is not addressed in any detail in the 10
Year Plan and is a matter we consider further in paragraph 3.7
2.3 However, as implementation of the 10
Year Plan begins to roll out, and the full construction costs
and implementational problems associated with schemes emerge,
the magnitude of the challenges posed in the 10 Year Plan increase.
In addition, the recent "apparent" shifts in national
transport policy, for example less emphasis on pricing mechanisms
and greater emphasis on resolving road congestion problems by
infrastructure investment in both road and public transport facilities
are a cause for concern.
2.4 Further supporting evidence can be given
to the Sub-Committee if required.
3. DETAILED COMMENTS
3.1 What assumptions should be modified or
The key assumption running through the 10 Year
Plan is that congestion can be reduced primarily from a programme
of enhanced capital investment. This has two aspects of concern,
firstly that the predictions in the 10 Year Plan depend on the
definition of congestion. This is itself a very difficult concept
and there is currently no widely accepted definition of congestion,
a point noted in "Transport 2010The Background Analysis".
Indeed it is unclear how the estimates of current and predicted
levels of congestion quoted in the 10 Year Plan have been derived.
Secondly, there is less emphasis placed in the Plan on the roles
of, and need for, pricing mechanisms (road user and workplace
parking levy schemes) which will need to be widely adopted in
most large urban areas if the plan projections are to be achieved.
3.2 Will the expected number of congestion
charging and workplace parking levy schemes be implemented and
We consider it unlikely that many such schemes
will come forward in the early years of the Plan. Whilst a scheme
in London can be expected to go ahead and some smaller specific
local schemes, it is unlikely that major area wide urban conurbation
schemes will be in place for a number of years because of:
The need to have in place public
transport systems of sufficient quality and quantity necessary
to absorb displaced car trips before introducing charging schemes.
In the case of Greater Manchester the extension of the Metrolink
system will not be completed until 2007-08 and significant investments
to increase the capacity of the local rail network will probably
Serious concerns about damaging the
local economic competitiveness of any area that introduced charging
on its own and the displacement of potential inward investment
to adjacent "non-charging" areas.
3.3 How important are the assumptions to the
outcome of the Plan? What remedial action is necessary if assumptions
or targets need to be changed?
Assumptions on traffic growth/congestion are
crucial but vary considerably if assumptions on car running costs,
inter-urban road pricing and workplace parking charges are varied
(see paragraph 9.12 of the Plan). This makes the target of 15
per cent reduction in congestion, which depends on all three,
difficult to achieve; particularly since the Plan states that
car costs will reduce (but makes no proposals to address this)
and is non-committal on implementing road pricing.
3.4 Are the skills and capacity available
to deliver the improvements suggested?
There are very real concerns that the level
of design and construction activity implied by the 10 Year Plan
is creating a skills shortage of qualified transport professionals
and engineers. This has two impacts, first that less experienced
staff will be used to take forward elements of the plan proposals,
and secondly that the skills shortage will be reflected in increased
prices with both transport consultants and construction industry
tender bids. In addition a problem could arise with a lack of
bus operating resources, especially if a high level of revenue
spend is allocated to support schemes such as those proposed in
the South East Manchester Multi Modal Study report.
3.5 How will the current situation in the
railway industry affect the need for a provision of private and
public sector finance?
We have the following concerns:
From the outset, GMPTA/E has been
sceptical of some of the Plan's assumptions, in particular that
£34 billion can be raised from private sector resources.
Yet Ministers still talk of "some £60 billion"
going into the rail network over 10 years, including the private
sector contribution. GMPTE is confident that the private sector
will invest in railways but that it needs a very clear appreciation
of its obligations, its risks and its rewards. This needs very
clear specification and Train Operating Companies (TOCs) still
complain privately to GMPTE that this guidance is still not forthcoming.
The Manchester Metrolink gained private sector confidence along
a fairly steep learning curve for all parties. These problems
on rail can be recovered but it needs careful handling. Railtrack
was never fit for purpose without massive government intervention
and the Northern TOCs were let franchises on expectations made
by the private sector and supported by OPRAF/SRA which were frankly
risible. Both franchises were effectively bankrupt within three
years. Both of these failures burned private sector fingers badly.
The fragmentation of the rail industry
has been a major obstacle in securing investment at a local level.
At the time of writing, there is still no SRA Strategic Plan around
which we would be looking to secure significant investment in
the capacity of the rail network around Central Manchester (the
"Manchester Hub"), which is constraining growth in rail
use not just in Greater Manchester but also for much of the North
The SRA preference for short extensions
of franchises will lessen the scope for attracting private sector
funding of any significance. The SRA's intentions on franchising
are still not clear. The Trans Pennine Express franchise proposition
has not been put out to bidders and there is now a move towards
promoting the amalgamation of Inter City and local franchises
with the short-term objective of creating more capacity for trains
primarily at London termini. Again this seems to indicate a focus
on short-term gains rather than the long term benefits envisaged
in the 10 Year Plan.
There is a widely held concern that
the money set aside for rail improvements will be diluted by it
being spent to keep Railtrack functioning in administration and
funding its metamorphosis into whatever type of organisation it
will eventually become. In addition, there is no prospect of there
being Railtrack (private sector) funds towards the public sector
funds outlined in the 10 Year Plan.
Added to this essentially financial
issue is the virtual embargo on any new rail infrastructure projects
because of an alleged shortage of key personnel and the complete
allocation of these technicians to existing predominantly safety
In short, as stated, there is a need
to review the targets against the reality of fundingcertainly
for the first five years of the Plan. If more money is needed
from the public sector this should be acknowledgedthe DTLR's
response to comments on their "draft statement of policy
on passenger rail franchising" states that the "plan
will be reviewed in conjunction with the 2002 review of public
spending". This does tell us that it will be reviewed but
there is no comfort that additional money will be made available.
3.6 Is the balance and phasing of investment
across funding areas correct?
What is becoming clear is the magnitude of investment
that is going to be needed across all modes, the Railtrack issues
raised in 3.5 above serve to illustrate this point. However, if
public transport is to take a greater share of existing trips
particularly in urban areas, then there is a need to secure this
investment in the early years of the Plan to enable charging initiatives
to be introduced in later years of the Plan. At the same time
it is recognised that there will continue to be worsening levels
of congestion on the road network which will not achieve Plan
objectives of reduced traffic congestion.
3.7 Are more flexible financing arrangements
required to deliver major local schemes?
The greater financial certainty arising from
the introduction of LTPs is most welcome. However, some specific
changes to funding mechanisms would be helpful in metropolitan
areas where PTAs are now designated as the Local Transport Authority.
The scope for revenue support offered
by Government in support of transport capital programmes to be
channelled directly to PTAs rather than via district councils
which then needs to be "reclaimed" by the PTA via the
Scope for rail funding, currently
channelled via Railtrack to be via PTEs and also the possible
transfer of ownership or management of local rail stations to
Significant improvements to local
bus services will only partially be achieved through investment
in measures such as Quality Bus Corridors. The Authority's Best
Value review of bus revenue support, which is currently scattered
across support for subsidised services, concessionary support
and Fuel Duty Rebate shows clearly that this funding structure
is neither focused enough nor transparent enough to secure public
A need to recognise the revenue implications
of new capital investments, for example the costs of maintaining
Quality Bus Corridors at a high level of quality, in terms of
priority detection for bus traffic signal equipment costs, additional
shelters, enhanced passenger information (real time) and coloured
road surfacing costs, together with higher enforcement costs,
should be reflected in on-going revenue support settlements. Again
providing this revenue resource direct to PTAs would also be beneficial
for management purposes.
The value of revenue support for
bus services needs to be recognised more clearly. This is currently
constrained by legislation, which makes partnership and cross-subsidising
initiatives difficult, in particular, the difficulties of introducing
Quality Contracts, see also paragraph 3.15. Also Urban Bus Challenge
resources are short term so long term benefits are in doubt.
3.8 How do the emerging multi-modal studies
affect the 10 Year Plan?
Experience of the South East Manchester Multi
Modal Study (SEMMMS) has raised two matters of concern. First
the total of investment cost (circa £1 billion) for an area
covering ¼ of the Greater Manchester conurbation, itself
one of six English Metropolitan areas highlights the scale of
investment that will be needed over the next 10 years or so. A
second, and more pressing concern, is the recognition in the Multi
Modal Study of the importance of revenue-funded activities to
the achievement of government transport objectives. In the SEMMMS
area these additional revenue costs, excluding local rail support,
are in the order of £10 million a year (ie £100 million
for a full 10 Year period).
3.9 Should the Plan represent a better balance
between large and small schemes, and between infrastructure, management
Within Greater Manchester we continue to suffer
from a lack of revenue funding relative to capital. This has implications
for the provision of bus and rail services both with respect to
the frequency of services and to customer care issues. For example:
There is a lot of scope for improving performance
and service quality by increasing staff numbers. At present the
local service operators tend to employ the bare minimum of management
and supervisory staff. In addition the revenue consequences of
increased capital investments have been noted in 3.7 above. It
is important that, once capital investments have been made to
upgrade transport facilities particularly public transport facilities,
those facilities must be maintained to a high level if the support
of the travelling public is to be maintained.
With respect to capital investment the Greater
Manchester Local Transport Plan has for some time recognized the
need to "get the small things right". For example these
could be related to the level of lighting around bus stops, the
quality of the footpath access to bus stops, the provision of
dropped kerbs and adequate pedestrian crossing points and so on.
However, it must be noted that the design and implementation of
such local small schemes, whilst very important to the success
of any transport policy aimed at reducing car use are very labour
intensive and this has implications for both scheme costs and
the ability to deliver such schemes where there are technical
3.10 Are the targets and the dates for their
achievement well designed (eg is reducing congestion the right
Looking at four of the key targets by 2010 we
would comment as follows:
50 per cent increase in rail passenger
kilometresthis should be achievable, indeed as the Plan
notes (paragraph 2.3) there has recently been a 17 per cent increase
in rail passenger journeys. But even a 50 per cent level of increase
in rail passenger kilometres will only result in a marginal decrease
in car kilometres. In Greater Manchester we have sought a significantly
more challenging target of a three or four fold increase in local
rail passenger journeys which will only be achieved by increasing
the frequency of many local rail services.
Road congestion reduced below current
levels; particularly in large urban areas. This is a particularly
difficult target and has already been partially considered in
the above paragraph. However, since a reduction in congestion
could be achieved by switching car trips to other times of day,
encouraging more decentralisation, increasing road capacity or
encouraging greater use of streets in residential areas, then
such policies could achieve a road congestion reduction target
but would be in conflict with other transport policy aspirations.
10 per cent increase in bus passenger
journeysTwo concerns here. First the ambiguity in the report
with respect to whether this target includes bus use growth in
London. If so this target could be achieved even with a continued
decline in the rest of the UK. The Plan target needs to be clarified.
Secondly given that bus use has been in long-term decline this
will be a tough target to achieve. However, in Greater Manchester
there are signs that this decline has halted and has even started
to be reversed. A 10 per cent increase should be possible if current
levels of capital investment on bus schemes are maintained and
revenue support is available with the flexibility to target resources
More cities and towns with park and
ride schemesThe plan (box on p 60) seems very upbeat about
Park and Ride. Our own work suggests that more caution is required
although we consider there will be a case for more schemes to
reduce town and city centre congestion. We consider there is a
strong case for a government sponsored research programme into
the circumstances under which P & R is beneficial.
3.11 What other targets, if any, should be
included (eg modal shift, walking, traffic levels)?
We have no strong views on this as many other
targets are expressed locally in Local Transport Plans, including
key measures such as bus vehicle speeds and targets for integrated
ticketing schemes. In general it is considered that a "bottom
up" approach to targets should be adopted where targets are
set locally through the LTP process and the totality of impact
of these is then fed through to national targets.
One target of major concern however, is that
which seems to incentivise the SRA to pursue South East and Inter
City based schemes because they can more easily achieve the desired
increase in passenger kilometres. The preferred target from a
Greater Manchester perspective, would be to increase passenger
journeys. This would give a better chance of schemes outside the
south east being funded.
3.12 Should a more regional approach be adopted
for target setting?
In general we would support this in line with
our view that targets should be set locally. There is a risk otherwise
that there will be a focus on the south east either in actuality
or as a perception. There should be a move away from the plan
being dominated by London based organisations.
3.13 How well does the Plan balance social
and environmental policy with efficient investment?
The Plan tends to be more focused on the delivery
of transport infrastructure investments aimed at reducing traffic
congestion rather than on the impact that those investments will
have on supporting wider social, economic and environmental objectives.
This imbalance should be addressed to give a higher priority towards
policies to reduce social exclusion, reduce the environmental
impacts of road traffic and support the economic regeneration
of our urban areas. There is also a need for other agencies to
be required to take into account the transport and access implications
of their location decisions. This is particularly so with respect
to health and education facilities where decisions to concentrate
service provision have often led to more and lengthy access journeys.
3.14 Does the Plan set out a balanced approach
to all modes (eg walking)?
Insufficient weight is given in the Plan to
initiatives to reduce the need to travel either by reduced trip
lengths or by encouraging non-motorised trips. Stronger integration
with land use planning policies and development plans will be
3.15 Are there any conflicts between the Plan
and the policies in the White PaperA New Deal for Transport?
The aims of increased bus usage and more integrated
transport are not well serviced by the hurdles involved in introducing
Quality Contracts. There is evidence (eg Peter Mackie in Chapter
2 of "Any more Fares? Delivering Better Bus Services")
that Quality Contracts would result in better bus services and
greater growth in bus patronage.
3.16 What impacts will policies in the European
White Paper on Transport have on the Plan?
It is not clear how these policies will help
deliver the objectives of the Plan. There is, however, concern
in the rail industry that adopting European standards will increase
costs, especially in safety related areas. If such measures are
to be adopted, then additional funding to that set out in the
10 Year Plan should be made available.