|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
I am today announcing the launch of the Government's smart and integrated ticketing strategy.
The strategy follows a consultation which ran for 10 weeks from August this year and sought views on the Government's emerging vision for smart and integrated ticketing across public transport in England. The consultation was well received, with over 120 responses, and there was strong support for the emerging vision although also a strong message that Government needed to set out a clear roadmap for delivery.
Our research suggests that smart and integrated ticketing could bring overall benefits of over £1 billion per year and could significantly improve the offer to the passenger through reduced queuing times, removal of the need to carry cash and the provision of seamless journeys.
We have incorporated 27 specific Government commitments in the strategy. Key commitments include £20 million of funding to be awarded to nine of the largest urban areas in England (outside London) in order to bring smart ticketing to the greatest number of people most quickly; a change to bus operators' grant (BSOG) which is the subject of a separate announcement today and which will reward operators who equip their buses with smart ticketing infrastructure with an 8 per cent. increase in grant; consideration of possible legislation if insufficient progress has been made in the roll-out of integrated ticketing; and the creation of a dedicated smart and integrated ticketing team within the Department of Transport to co-ordinate delivery of the strategy from a central point.
The strategy includes a timetable for delivery, which though challenging, I believe is achievable. Our immediate goal is to see integrated multi-modal smart ticketing schemes, similar to the Oyster scheme in London but using the ITSO specification, in England's major urban areas by 2015. We expect that urban schemes will provide a base from which further expansion can occur, and anticipate that that there will be some local integrated ITSO smart ticketing schemes in every area of the country by 2020. The Department will also continue to put smart ticketing requirements into the rail franchises as they come up for renewal.
Longer term, our aim is to see customers possibly being given a choice of ticketing media, potentially including bank cards and mobile phones and improved links between ticketing and information provision to make public transport use an easier and more attractive option to passengers.
The successful delivery of the strategy will depend upon partnership working to ensure that schemes meet the needs of the passengers. In the strategy, the Department lays out the roles envisaged for principal stakeholders; ITSO, the local transport authorities, local transport operators, train operating companies and suppliers. We recognise that we cannot deliver the strategy without the support of all these key stakeholders and I look forward to working with them to ensure that we meet our commitments as soon as possible.
Copies of the strategy document have been placed in the Library of the House.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr. Sadiq Khan):
In February Britain experienced its worst winter for 18 years. It is important that we learn the transport lessons from that experience, so that the
country is better prepared for similar severe events in future. To this end, the then Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon), commissioned the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG) to conduct a review of the difficulties experienced in the operation of winter maintenance service at that time.
The UKRLG published its report on 4 August (available from the Libraries of both Houses or from: www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org), and I am grateful for the thorough way in which it reviews events. The report makes 19 recommendations, and I am pleased to announce today that the Government have accepted them all, which together should improve our preparedness to face up to the challenges presented by severe winter weather in the future.
Most of the recommendations are addressed to local highway authorities and salt suppliers. It is, of course, for each authority to consider these and decide for themselves how best to take them forward. I commend them to authorities' attention.
First, it recommends that the Highways Agency should hold a reserve of salt above that which it needs to meet its service standards, in order to reduce overall demand for salt at critical times. In addition to supporting the UKRLG review, the agency has carried out its own internal exercise to identify those areas of its business which may be improved, to further strengthen its winter service resilience. A number of improvements have been identified and implemented, including a review of the salt stock levels that will be held across the strategic road network in England. The agency has previously implemented a risk-based approach to set its salt stock levels each year. By identifying and considering the impact of issues which may affect salt supplies and associated stock levels, a suitable salt stock profile for each of the agency's operational areas is derived for the winter season ahead. The increased risk of a salt shortage similar to that experienced last season has been considered when setting the salt stock profiles for this winter season, in order to increase the agency's salt stock resilience.
UKRLG further recommend that the Department should publish an information leaflet for highway authority elected members and senior managers on preparation for severe winter conditions. We have produced such a leaflet and have arranged for this to be distributed today.
The report proposes that the Department should make preparations to enable rapid introduction of derogation against drivers' hours regulations for specific categories of vehicles and drivers if necessary in times of severe adverse weather conditions. We agree with the recommendation that it is important to implement such derogations quickly, when the need has been identified. We believe that the Department's response in February was as swift as was possible; but we will review our processes to ensure that we remain ready to deal with applications for derogation as quickly as possible.
UKRLG considered the operation of the centrally co-ordinated Salt Cell that was set up in February. The report concludes that the possibility of a future Government-run Salt Cell should only be considered as
a matter of last resort, but that the Government should develop a contingency plan for any future Salt Cell, to be used in extremis. I again accept the recommendation. My Department is working with a number of stakeholders, both within and without Government, to develop robust protocols against such an eventuality.
Co-operation and co-ordination between highways authorities and suppliers will be a key component in better management of winter service in the future, however severe the weather. The Highways Agency had already identified the need to develop a closer relationship with its salt supply chain partners. A strategic Salt Liaison Group (SLG) has been established, to discuss issues affecting salt usage and supply for the strategic network. Local highway authorities may wish to reflect on how similar arrangements might benefit them. As part of its own review of lessons learnt, the agency also highlighted the need for improved communications to give earlier warning of any developing salt supply issues. Again, local authorities may wish to consider how they can implement a more precautionary, focused dialogue with salt suppliers in the same way.
There is already good communication between the Highways Agency and local authorities, and the agency shares a number of depots with local authorities. As well as the cost efficiencies associated with depot-sharing, it can provide access to the network at operationally important locations that may not otherwise be available. The Highways Agency recognises the importance of depot-sharing in providing a cost-effective solution to planning and maintaining an effective winter service. However, depots are often not suitable for sharing either on account of their location, their size or other operational constraints. Each proposal therefore needs to be considered on its individual merits, to ensure that service delivery for both authorities will not be compromised.
While no system can be completely resilient in extreme circumstances, adopting the UKRLG's recommendations should help the nation to be better prepared should weather conditions similar to this past winters be encountered in future.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper): I will shortly be publishing the Autumn Performance Report of the Department for Work and Pensions. The report is intended to supplement the Department's annual report published in June 2009.
This publication has been specifically designed to be accessed online, on the grounds of sustainability and potential financial savings, and will be available on the Department's website. For the convenience of Members, some printed copies will be placed in the Library and supplied to the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.