Memorandum by South West Transport Network
TRANSPORT-RELATED EXECUTIVE AGENCIES
This submission has particular reference to
the Highways Agency. Its thrust and culture over the years has
been to build more motorways and by-passes, a task in which it
has succeeded, sometimes with environmental advantage, but by
no means always so. The expertise, culture and attitudes established
within the Agency over the years are not exactly suited to integrated
transport. That implies more use of rail, canals and coastal shipping,
with less reliance on roads. Comments in our previous submissions
are relevanton Road Haulage (HC296 19/07/00 page 180) and
on Rail Investment (still in consideration).
One of our members having had recent dealings
with the Agency has expressed these views, which sum up the situation
in few words:
"The Highways Agency needs a thorough overhaul
to bring it in line with government thinkingor it needs
replacing with an integrated Transport Agency that includes the
Countryside Agency and the Environment Agency at every level.
(Why not?) Highways Agency staff have been trained to build faster
and bigger roads, which is no longer priority in the 10-year Plan
and the New Deal for Trunk roads. The Agency tends to lead, rather
than seeing itself as servant of the Government."
Here are other responses from people in the
Lack of bus priority measures on trunk roads
and motorways. A particular example is the M32 in Bristol, which
could link into HGV lanes developed by South Gloucestershire and
Bristol City councils.
The Agency failed to provide public transport
measures on the Cirencester bypass (connecting A419 and A417 between
Swindon and Cheltenham), leaving dangerous crossing points, no
bus shelters and no provision for cyclists.
There should be clear information and direction
signs encouraging use of park and ride and car parks at railway
stations. We welcome National Rail's BR's red "two-arrow"
sign. It should be prominent on roads at every convenient access
point. Examples are M4, M5, M32 and A4174 for Bristol Parkway,
M4 for Didcot Parkway, A4 for Keynsham, A370 for Worle, M5 for
Tiverton Parkway and various points on the line between Exeter
Central and Waterloo.
The Agency should take the lead in developing
more "parkway" rail stations, and providing easy access
to them from the road network.
And why should not the Agency promote motorail
sleeper services, as an aid to relieving trunk road congestion
We favour detrunking in appropriate cases, because
it makes for local democratic control. Examples are A46/A35/M32
in the Bristol area and the A39/A361 North Devon link.
An alternative to an Integrated Transport Agency
(as suggested above) might be Government Regional Offices having
direct responsibility, in conjunction with regional Assemblies
We need something like passenger transport authoritiesand
PTEspossibly three in the South West:
one centred on Bath and Bristol
for Gloucestershire, Somerset and North Wiltshire;
another on Exeter and Plymouth
for Devon and Cornwall;
a third on Southampton and Portsmouth
for Hampshire, Dorset and South Wiltshire.
There needs to be an agency working on modal
shift for freight, away from roadsbetter interface between
road, rail, ports and waterways.
The Environment Agency will be ever more concerned
with new housing locations, avoiding areas liable to flood. At
the same time there should be regard to convenient public transport
access, walking distance to rail stations or quality bus service.
The roles for Traffic Commissioners, Vehicle
Certification and Vehicle Inspectorate need re-examining in the
light of "integration" policies. There needs to be effective
regulation and enforcement of standards, and for public transport
adequate maintenance provisionnot the kind of depot closures
we have seen in the South West recently. Reducing operating discs
as a form of "punishment" is not necessarily the best
way, if it leads to fewer services and hardship for passengers.
We look forward to the Sub-committees deliberations
on these matters. Changed policies and objectives need changes
in structures if effective delivery is to be achieved.
for Transport 2000 and Railway Development Society
in the South West