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Government transport policy ‘unconvincing’, says CILT

In response to government consultations, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) argues that urgent action is needed to ensure the UK's transport network remains fit for purpose. Its position was endorsed by the Eddington and Stern reports, but CILT says that the Government's formal response to these reports – Towards a Sustainable Transport System – is unconvincing on a number of levels.

CILT has recently submitted its response to the Government document, highlighting some substantial inconsistencies. It is disappointed that transport is still not among the Government's main priorities, which is disturbing given the vital matters of national interest which were identified so clearly by Eddington (The crucial role of transport in sustaining prosperity and a competitive economy) and Stern (The role of transport in tackling climate change and carbon emissions).

The White Paper evidences a more structured approach to transport investment planning for the future, which is welcome. But the document is light on the transport policies which will drive those plans. In particular, there is little evidence that the thinking is joined up with other key areas of Government policy – such as the Government's emerging climate change strategy, strategic housing locations, regional economic development strategies, and location decisions in health and education The responsibility for not making adequate connections may lie as much with other departments as it does with the DfT.

Other areas of concern include the whole approach to the evaluation and appraisal of programmes and projects. Current appraisal methods have an iron grip on decision-making and may not adequately reflect current policy priorities; they seem to have a stultifying effect on progress. CILT believes that some policies and programmes which so clearly reflect wider strategic priorities for government and the economy need a lighter touch in appraisal

CILT Chief Executive Steve Agg said; “Britain badly needs a clearer vision for transport, not a lot of platitudes and colourful reports.” He added; “This vision needs to be delivered across all Government departments and at a pace which meets the challenges so clearly laid out by Eddington and Stern.”

Other recommendations by CILT are for Integrated Transport Authorities to deliver co-ordinated transport solutions at a local level to replace currently fragmented responsibilities.

The Institute also believes that road pricing, combined with higher investment in transport, is a crucial plank of longer term transport policy. As Eddington showed, all other means of combating congestion will either be less effective or cost taxpayers more. But pricing is contentious and poorly understood. The Government should undertake to set out a clear route map within the next year showing what steps need to be taken to address the issues of public acceptance and understanding, and how to progress the wide range of unresolved policy and practical issues.

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