Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (TYP 37)


  Metro is the Passenger Transport Executive in West Yorkshire and is responsible for the co-ordination and promotion of public transport in the metropolitan districts of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. As the leading partner in the development of the Local Transport Plan it is pursuing the delivery of an integrated transport system through investment in public transport facilities, and co-ordination with Local Authorities, transport operators and government bodies

  West Yorkshire with a population of 2.1 million contains both urban and rural areas. It includes the key urban centres such as Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Halifax and Huddersfield. While the area in general benefits from the economic growth of Leeds, many sections of its population are yet to benefit. Consequently some areas of the county suffer from deprivation and some residents remain excluded socially and economically from recent improvements created by the growth of economic opportunities. The key aims of transport investment must address economic, environmental and social issues, and can be best delivered through a combination of increased revenue expenditure in addition to capital funding of new infrastructure.

  As one of the leading Authorities in promoting public transport (Metro are the National Passenger Transport Authority of the year and a Centre of Excellence in Integrated Transport Planning) Metro were invited to make a submission to the 10 Year Plan Inquiry. This submission will be made in the following format:

        Consideration of the issues identified and questions raised in the areas listed in Press Notice No. 22, dated 5 December 2001:

      —  Assumptions in the Plan.

      —  Implementation of the Plan.

      —  Plan Targets.

      —  The Plan and an integrated transport policy.

        Comment on specific problems faced in West Yorkshire, the range of solutions that could solve them and the adequacy of the Plan in employing such solutions.


What assumptions should be modified or challenged?

  The major assumption upon which the Plan is based is that the scale of its funding is adequate to deliver the required outcomes. There is concern that the scale of funding identified is not adequate, and furthermore there is a lack of confidence that the anticipated sources of funding can be relied upon.

  General concerns are listed below, followed by comment on specific issues related to pubic transport operations within a Metropolitan area.

    —  The level of capital investment is not adequate. Evidence indicates that the UK has historically committed a lower proportion of GDP to transport investment than the average for EU member states and that our recent per capita investment is below the EU average. Recent evidence from the CfIT identifies that the UK has been investing around 0.6 per cent of its GDP on transport compared to between 1.10 per cent and 1.25 per cent invested by France, Germany and Italy. The projected per capita expenditure on transport identified in the Plan will raise levels to those comparable with the EU average during the mid 1980s to mid 1990s, but these levels are dependent upon private sector support. This raises the question of the extent to which this will enable the UK to catch up with the rest of Europe. If viewing investment as a proportion of GDP, the levels of funding in the Plan are actually lower than the mid 1980s to mid 1990s in the second half of the Plan period and would still remain below the EU average. Non-rail investment will continue to be lower than the EU average for the duration of the Plan period, which would imply that high quality public transport infrastructure comparable with other EU member states is not going to be delivered.

    —  Recent studies into existing LRT systems in the UK suggest that the degree of integration between modes needs to be increased in order to achieve levels of use comparable with European systems. Investment in infrastructure alone is not the best way to achieve this.

    —  Ability to fund outcomes of the South and West Yorkshire Multi Modal Study (SWYMMS) and other MMSs which are as yet unknown.

    —  Costs of delivery plan (£121 billion) may not be able to meet an increase in rail infrastructure costs.

    —  Road user charging may not deliver revenue of £1.2 billion.

    —  Levels of private investment are over optimistic.

    —  Private involvement in local transport is less likely where services are provided for social and environmental benefit.

    —  Willingness of transport operators and businesses to invest in new markets rather than consolidate existing market share.

    —  Increase in PFI funding may not be achieved if difficulties faced by London Underground are repeated.

    —  The Rail Modernisation fund is no longer available.

    —  Ability of bus quality partnerships to deliver with no control on fares and service levels.

    —  The Competition Act creates inconsistencies affecting the ability to develop quality partnerships between PTAs and operators.

  Congestion charging and work place parking levies are two measures identified to affect demand and behaviour, but there is little emphasis on "hearts and minds" campaigns which if marketed successfully could affect behaviour and be supported from the community up, rather than imposed from the top down.

  The Plan does not identify the need for integrated comprehensive bus networks and this over estimates the effect investment in transport infrastructure alone can have on modal transfers. There needs to be greater acknowledgement of the role of bus operators and the effects of competition between different operators and the difficulties this presents to modal integration. Bus operators aim to achieve fuller buses thereby maximising revenue, and the trend is for them to concentrate on profitable core routes. Access to public transport is also required outside these core route catchment areas where demand might be too low for commercial services. Revenue subsidy, or cross subsidy is required to expand the areas which can access public transport networks. Even the availability of expanded public transport networks will not in itself necessarily reduce social exclusion, if fare levels are not set at appropriate levels.

In particular, will the expected number of congestion charging and workplace parking levy schemes be implemented and when?

  It is unlikely that different Authorities within Metropolitan areas will act uniformly on the implementation of such revenue raising schemes. Metro has no power to introduce such schemes or control the use of any revenue raised. There will need to be coordinated action by different Authorities to achieve consistency and appropriate reinvestment in public transport. Such schemes in West Yorkshire are unlikely to be introduced before the Supertram network is opened in 2007. If the network is successful in attracting car users and so reducing congestion, then such charging may not need to be implemented. It remains to be seen if such a "stick" is required to supplement the "carrot" of Supertram and other investments in public transport (bus guideways, priority corridors, interchanges, new rolling stock etc). It is unclear nationally how or where eight congestion charging schemes and 12 workplace parking schemes will be delivered.

  More fundamentally, passing the responsibility for the introduction of demand management through charging, will undermine the speed at which such schemes are introduced. Political leadership on this issue would best come from a national level if it is to be applied consistently and effectively.

How important are the assumptions to the outcome of the plan? What remedial action is necessary if assumptions or targets need to be changed?

  The primary concern is that the anticipated levels of funding may not be achieved (from private investment and road user charging for example) and this may necessitate an increase in the balance of public contributions or a scaling down of the Plan. Furthermore those levels of funding identified may not be sufficient to deliver the objectives and targets. In order to increase available funding other sources could be sought such as for example accessing the increasing profits from bus operators, extended road user charging or through direct or indirect taxation. It would be difficult to arrange these additional funding sources quickly in response to targets not being delivered, which would only be indicated once the Plan's delivery programme is underway.

Are the skills and capacity available to deliver the improvements suggested?

  Currently not. Recruitment of skilled/experienced staff is difficult, with partner Authorities often seeking resources from the same limited supply of labour. Transport planners, highway engineers, rail engineers, public transport analysts are all in short supply, and the anticipated requirements for consultation, marketing and promotion place more demands for expanded skills on existing or new staff. There is some scope for eliminating duplication of research, development and design through sharing of resources and experience between Authorities in West Yorkshire and other Metropolitan areas, but the necessity to ensure improvements are publicly responsive and are fully consulted requires high levels of input from local staff. Existing staff are expected to become more efficient through the development of good practice and experience. As the Plan period develops resources will be most in demand for scheme identification, design, project management and public liaison.

  The recruitment, training and retention of train drivers, and to a lesser extent, bus drivers, are currently causing operational difficulties for operators and undermining service provision. These issues should be addressed, through a national training initiative for example, in order to complement the delivery of the Plan.


How will the current situation in the railway industry affect the need for and provision of private and public sector finance?

  Uncertainty, lack of public confidence, poor staff morale and a disgruntled travelling public contribute to making private sector investment more difficult to secure, thereby increasing the amount of public investment required to fund the Plan. The length of franchise periods also influences the level of commitment from the private sector. Railways in Metropolitan areas require ongoing subsidy, and the private sector investment is therefore required as it is unlikely that public funding can be expanded at local level. Private sector investment may focus on areas where higher commercial returns may result. Private involvement is more likely to focus on investment in the southeast and inter-city routes to the detriment of the Metropolitan areas and Shire counties where other social and wider economic benefits could be achieved.

Is the balance and phasing of investment across funding areas correct?

  Journeys are becoming longer and the division between local and strategic movement is therefore more blurred. Funding for some local major schemes should come from the national allocation rather than the local allocation where they have a strategic impact. Given past under-investment in rail it is appropriate that the rail/road split is focused on rail investment. The local transport element of the Plan would benefit from clarification between spending in rural/urban areas. The need for Local Authorities to fund increased revenue budgets to support capital schemes has to be provided for.

Are more flexible financing arrangements required to deliver major local schemes?

  In terms of major public transport schemes more revenue spending should be available to expand the extent of public transport networks (in space and time) and encourage the uptake of new travel by public transport. Alternatively, rather than rely on private capital investments for construction or capital investment, these investments could be commuted to provide payments to meet revenue for maintenance of facilities (such as interchanges or bus stops) or to subsidise the costs of travel and/or the extent of the network coverage. In addition there is concern that the risks of development should not be borne by Local Authorities. The use of Plan investment funds to finance feasibility and development work should be allowed, thereby sharing risk on major schemes between partners. There is an issue of the phasing of investment to ensure that funding matches expenditure.

How do the emerging multi-modal studies affect the 10 Year Plan?

  The studies will identify the spatial distribution and levels of existing, and future, demand for travel, and will produce potential solutions based on quantified information. Specific costed solutions may necessitate prioritising between regions if overall costs are greater than those identified in the Plan. The studies should be nationally consistent but are however guided by regional objectives and assumptions, which may be inconsistent. Being strategic, there will be a need to interpret their findings, solutions and impacts at a local level to avoid incompatibility. If the studies identify schemes to be included within LTPs there will need to be regional agreement on phasing and implementation between Authorities.

Should the plan represent a better balance between large and small schemes, and between infrastructure, management and operations?

  The Plan represents a strategy and identifies (a not exclusive list of) the potential methods to improve the transport infrastructure. At a local level, the Local Transport Plan process will address the balance between large and small scale schemes, which the national Plan cannot adequately address. The balance between infrastructure, management and operations is more difficult and the revenue elements identified in the Plan are more difficult to estimate given the technological uncertainty in the costs of congestion management and charging technology, for example. Such revenue costs do not explicitly cover the costs of subsidising public transport networks or fares and may need to be reviewed once the infrastructure is delivered, and the effects of it on usage and reducing social exclusion become apparent.


Are the targets and the dates for their achievement well designed (eg is reducing congestion the right objective)?

  The target to reduce congestion should be qualified to identify prioritising benefits to public transport since reducing journey times can in itself attract travel from cars. The provision of additional capacity will result in increased demand for travel and targets should be related to modal splits between different travel modes. There is little mention of reducing road space to benefit public transport. Many highways in town centres and at bottlenecks on urban local roads cannot be expanded to provide priority to public transport without land take, unless demand management measures are in place to reduce travel by car users. The target to increase bus usage should be qualified by including reference to new travel, by previous car users and those previously excluded through reasons of mobility and income. The targets for rail use may need adjustment to reflect recent events. The target to increase bus use, by transfers from other modes and induced demand for bus travel, will have implications on the levels of public investment in concessionary fares budget. This will have consequences for Passenger Transport Authorities and affect their ability to maintain other services at existing levels through revenue expenditure eg tendered bus services, maintenance of facilities. The 50 per cent target increase in rail passenger kilometres rather than passenger journeys will focus attention on rail travel in the south east and inter city journeys, to the detriment of Metropolitan areas outside London. The 50 per cent target may need reviewing in the light of recent events.

What other targets, if any, should be included (eg modal shift, walking, traffic levels?)

  Accessibility to public transport within urban areas should be included as a target in the same way as for rural areas. Targets should also address public transport fares, the provision and accessibility of public transport information and the promotion of integrated travel through reducing car mileage and increasing public transport passenger mileage and the ability to interchange between modes.

Should a more regional approach be adopted for target setting?

  Regions are starting from a different base and the ability to deliver targets within them is therefore different. While more difficult to define, a regional approach would reflect more local aspirations and abilities. The inter relationship between rural and urban areas, particularly with regard to commuting into West Yorkshire from rural hinterlands requires the application of different policies by different Authorities, and as travel often transcends administrative boundaries consistency in policies, infrastructure, fares and services can be difficult to achieve. Given the different baseline conditions between London/south east and other Metropolitan areas, specific targets more relevant to local conditions and existing measures should be set.


How well does the Plan balance social and environmental policy with efficient investment?

  The Plan focuses on achieving limited quantified effects, without specifying the importance of a comprehensive public transport network which is effectively part of a door-to-door network. Importantly it does not address public transport fare levels and their role in making public transport more inclusive through affordability. The rail network widens the catchment area to major urban centres but the potential benefit it offers in widening access to employment can be reduced through unaffordable fares for those on limited income. A balance is needed to optimise revenue while restraining price levels, and ensuring public transport costs do not become a barrier to those seeking employment or training.

Does the Plan set out a balanced approach to all modes (eg walking)?

  The role of taxi operators in providing feeder services to rail stations or interchanges on the core bus network is not addressed. A door-to-door public transport network will require services that can operate in areas, and at times, of low density of demand for travel. Walking and cycling are also important modes in accessing public transport networks and greater emphasis is required on their role in accessing public transport.

Are there any conflicts between the Plan and the policies in the White Paper—A New Deal for Transport?

  The two are very consistent and complement each other. The White Paper obviously includes more detail on the types of investment that can create an integrated transport system, including examples of infrastructure, methods and initiatives to encourage public transport use. As with the Plan it under estimates the need for a comprehensive and accessible public transport network.

What impacts will policies in the European White Paper on Transport have on the Plan?

  One of the driving forces of the policy statement is the recognition of the adverse effect congestion will have on economic development. This stance is therefore supportive of actions in, and anticipated outcomes from, the Plan. A framework directive to establish the principles of infrastructure charging and pricing structure will allow the development of charging policies based on the user pays policy. This would allow revenue raising measures to be applied consistently and encourage public transport operators to use increased revenues from additional passengers to hold or reduce fare levels, and provide opportunities to construct new infrastructure especially rail. The EU White Paper identifies the benefits of high-speed rail as an alternative to air travel on key routes within Europe. This policy could benefit the development of rail infrastructure including parkways, new track, rolling stock, which while focused on inter city travel could offer more opportunities to reduce car traffic and enhance local rail services within, to and between urban centres. The development of "passenger charters" will encourage confidence and consistency in public transport by establishing standards of service and encouraging good practice across the EU and the UK has much to learn from European partners about the public's acceptability of using public transport and this process could assist. The establishment of the Marco Polo programme to promote alternative solutions to road transport will provide incentives to develop innovative infrastructure.


  In general the Plan is welcome. It reflects the objectives in the White Paper, and lays out the aspirations to tackle or avoid transport problems through investment. The major concern is that the level of funding identified underestimates the scale of investment required to deliver the targets identified. Furthermore the sources and scale of private investment are not certain.

  While strong on investment in infrastructure, the Plan tends to overlook the need for continued investment in revenue support to ensure public transport networks are comprehensive, fares are affordable and priorities are given to encourage modal transfer. The objectives of the Plan would be more achievable in West Yorkshire if Metro could define service levels, networks, bus/rail interchange opportunities, have greater influence on journeys in from its rural hinterland and have greater access to revenue funding. This would require more regulation of bus operations and the ability to raise revenue through access to increased profits made by operators and/or access to funds generated from congestion charging and work place charging levies.


  Three major areas are identified for further comment in relation to local issues of concern to Metro within West Yorkshire:

    —  Bus travel.

    —  Rail travel.

    —  Fares and Social Inclusion.

Bus Travel

  The fundamental issue is whether the Transport Act 2000 will provide an adequate framework for planning bus networks, integrated with other modes, that meet the West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan economic, social and environmental objectives and the accompanying Bus Strategy. Operators act commercially and whilst there is a degree of overlap between their commercial objectives and the West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan economic, social and environmental objectives there are also potential areas of conflict.

  One example is shown by current tends in network planning. Operators have tended to concentrate services on core networks with greater density of demand, resulting in a reduced level of service in peripheral areas which now require greater level of public subsidy to provide socially necessary bus services. When combined with increased tenders to provide these services, the outcome could be a public transport network that meets the targets of the Plan and places greater pressures on revenue budgets but does not provide adequate network coverage.

  Another example is the introduction of operator only tickets, which, whilst benefiting some users, are intended to increase operator market share rather than market size and are inconsistent with an integrated approach to ticketing.

  A further example is the difficulty in ensuring that bus networks develop in a way that is complementary to the Leeds Supertram system. Bidders for the system will price the risks posed by potential competitive actions by bus operators, thereby potentially increasing the public sector cost.

  Whilst the Transport Act 2000 makes provision for statutory quality schemes, Quality Contracts, ticketing strategies and information strategies it remains to be seen how effective these will be in securing an integrated transport system.


  Rail travel in West Yorkshire has, with the exception of the current year (post Hatfield, driver shortages and floods) been increasing year on year. Much of this growth is the result of new job creation in Leeds rather than the actions of train operating companies. The performance of the main operator of local services has been appalling in terms of cancellations, punctuality investment, provision of adequate capacity and customer relations.

  Whilst the investment in Leeds Station provides new opportunities, there is an urgent need to invest in additional rolling stock, to rationalise rolling stock to assist better utilization and address industry wide problems of driver recruitment and training. Metro has set out aspirations for the development of the local and strategic rail networks in RailPlan five. However, delivery of these aspirations will require more commitment from Government and the Strategic Rail Authority that has been evident in the years since privatisation.

User Costs and Social Inclusion

  Metro is concerned that the actions of private operators to maximize revenue, rather than social or economic benefits, will continue to exclude people for reasons of cost. Public transport users in this country pay a higher proportion of operating costs than is the case in other EU member states. Whilst the privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s have produced efficiency gains and driven down costs, these will not in themselves necessarily result in a public transport system with affordable fares, which is accessible to all.

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