Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
WEDNESDAY 30 JANUARY 2002
60. Do you know of any fares outside London;
can you give us any examples of fares outside London?
(Mr Rickett) You want details of particular fares
61. Do you happen to know any of them?
(Mr Rickett) Do I happen to know them?
(Mr Rickett) Well, I know what I pay to go to certain
parts of the country, yes.
63. Would you like to give us an example?
(Mr Rickett) I am not sure what it would add, if I
told you the fare to Ipswich, or Saxmundham, or Leeds, or wherever.
But if you want further information, the information that the
Department has had on historical movements in fares, particularly
the unregulated fares, then I am sure we can provide it for you,
and why we made that assumption in the 10 Year Plan.
64. So you have learned no lessons from what
has gone wrong?
(Mr Rickett) As I say, I think it is too early to
conclude, after ten months, that the assumption that we made in
the Plan is wrong.
65. At what point in your Plan will you be assessing
what is actually happening on the ground?
(Mr Rickett) We have said, publicly, that we will
review the Plan in line with every Spending Review, which implies
every other year.
66. We have got a problem, you see, Mr Rickett.
On the one hand, you say to us, "These are assumptions, and,
of course, we must have the right to change the models,"
which is not only sensible but acceptable; but then we are looking
at a Plan that makes a number of very firm assumptions. It says,
for example, you have not made an assumption about the timing
of the introduction of local charging plans, but you have assumed
£2.7 billion is going to be available because of charging
schemes. Now what assumptions are we to accept, how did you arrive
at that figure, because if they are all general assumptions how
have you assumed that £2.7 billion will be available?
(Mr Rickett) We made an assumption about the number
of schemes that would be introduced, based on what local authorities
were telling us in their Local Transport Plan submissions, and
we included those assumptions in the Plan. Clearly, local congestion
charging schemes we envisaged would be introduced towards the
latter part of the period, partly
67. On the basis of the money that you think
you have made available through Local Transport Plans already?
(Mr Rickett) Partly because we had only just introduced
the powers, and partly because we wanted to see improvements in
public transport before they introduced congestion charging. So
those schemes are all back-end-loaded, in the Plan. It is an assumption;
if that assumption looks to be wrong then we will change the assumptions
in the Plan. I have to say that the effects of local congestion
charging schemes are largely local and they will fall on local
authorities, and it will be, in the first place, for them to decide.
68. Yes; but David Begg, for example, who is
the Chairman of your Commission for Integrated Transport, said
that, with a fair wind, London, Bristol and Leeds would have introduced
major road user charging schemes by 2010, and only Nottingham
would have a workplace parking levy scheme. Now that, frankly,
does not seem to fit in with the figures in your assumptions,
(Mr Rickett) We have 35 authorities in the Charging
Development Partnership, and at the time all those authorities
were expressing some interest, but differing degrees of interest,
in introducing these schemes.
69. But there is a bit of a gap between that
and the 20 charging schemes that you appear to be assuming will
be on stream?
(Mr Rickett) As I say, there were 35 authorities in
the Partnership, they were the people who were expressing an interest
in introducing it; it was against that background that we assumed
eight congestion charging schemes and 12 workplace parking levies.
As I said, if those schemes do not go ahead, the impact will be
primarily local; and I am not sure that we would necessarily adjust
our Plan, we are not necessarily going to remove the incentives
on local authorities to introduce such schemes by saying that
if they do not go ahead we will provide them with lots more money,
70. I see. It would knock hell out of the whole
of your Plan, but you would not be too unduly worried?
(Mr Rickett) No, it would not, no. The effect of those
schemes was to account for, the Plan said that there might be
a 22 percentage point reduction in congestion across the road
network as a whole, turning a 15 per cent forecast increase into
a 6 per cent reduction, and about 1.5 percentage points of that
was due to the local congestion charging scheme; so, at a national
level, the impact is not very great. It is at a local level that
local authorities lose the reduction in congestion, they lose
the improvement in bus services that that would provide, they
lose the incentives to walk and cycle and use public transport
that the charges would create, and they lose the revenue to invest
in public transport.
71. But that would not really affect the overall
Plan, that would only affect all these little local authorities?
(Mr Rickett) No, it would have significant effects
on the analysis that we did, it would have significant effects
in the areas where these schemes were not introduced. What I am
saying is, where does it leave you, if you change the assumption.
72. I think we are still trying to work out
what the assumptions were?
(Mr Rickett) The assumptions were that eight major
cities would introduce congestion charging schemes, and another
12 would introduce workplace parking levies.
73. And you think that is realistic?
(Mr Rickett) We are reviewing the Plan, we will review
that assumption. It was realistic at the time because we had 35
authorities expressing an interest.
74. Is it realistic now then?
(Mr Rickett) There must be some question as to whether
we will get that level. Authorities no doubt are waiting to see
what will happen in London. That is understandable. If it takes
three to four years to introduce a local congestion charging scheme
then we still have some time before we have to say, "This
assumption is no longer realistic." We will be reviewing
it, in the review, I am not going to reach a conclusion here.
I understand your view; it is something that we will...
75. I am glad that you get the general impression
I understand that; not altogether a satisfactory reply, Mr Rickett?
(Mr Rickett) No, I got the impression that you do
not agree with the assumptions in the Plan; that is the impression
76. If I knew what the assumptions were; I am
actually just asking questions. Once I am sure that I know what
your assumptions are, why you reached them and whether they are
realistic then I will be very happy to tell you whether I am pleased
with them or not, and you will not need to ask a second time.
(Mr Rickett) I thought I had answered it, but you
said be short, so I am not going to repeat it.
Chairman: No, no; okay.
77. Mr Rickett, in the 10 Year Plan provision
was made for inclusion into the transport arrangements for inland
waterways and the maritime ports. Now that they have been transferred
away from your Department, are they a feature in the 10 Year Plan
that we are talking about now?
(Mr Rickett) It is the responsibility of the British
Waterways Board for canals, not necessarily all of the navigable
and coastal waterways, that we are talking about. I do not see
a problem in co-operating with DEFRA in delivering what we envisaged
in the Plan; they have as much interest in making use of the transport
capabilities of canals as we would, partly because, if you can
shift traffic off roads, or wherever, onto waterways then that,
presumably, has some environmental benefit.
78. So how do you co-ordinate then with DEFRA
and your Department; who are the link people?
(Mr Rickett) In the way that we work with all sorts
of other people, as we were discussing earlier, at the beginning
of this session. We work with them just as we work with the Forward
Strategy Unit, or the Treasury, or anybody else. It helps that
they used to be part of the Department, because we know all the
people, and so that makes it easier. But I do not see a problem.
79. Tell me how it makes it easier then, because
here we are looking at transport, the 10 Year Plan, and there
is no reference whatsoever to waterways; you did say you are responsible
for maritime ports, in your opening remarks, and so how far
(Mr Rickett) Sorry; no reference where?