Headlines: July 16th, 1997

Gavin Strang, Minister for Transport, announced the Government’s commitment to seek an integrated transport policy. He said: “In the coming months we will be looking to develop a proper integrated transport policy for the UK”. Dr Strang warned that to continue as we are is no longer an option: “Many of our towns and cities are creaking at the seams, and something must be done. There are no quick fixes, but no one should think they can sit back and leave it all up to the Government.”The aim is to produce a White paper in the Spring of 1998 setting out the long term proposals. This timescale is extremely tight. Apart from central government departments and local authorities there are many other groups with a stake in the transport system who will have to be consulted.

The conflict of interest between the different groups will create tensions which will be difficult to manage. Tensions will be heightened by likely proposals to influence people to change life long habits and make less use of the car. Gavin Strang said: “This Government is committed to reducing dependence on the car and to promoting a wider choice of alternatives such as walking, cycling and public transport.”

The strategic issues which the integrated transport policy will need to address include:

  • how to develop clean, safe and reliable transport
  • how to ensure genuine choice to meet the needs of all sectors of society
  • how to design efficient and effective transport to enhance economic development
  • how to move to greener transport to respect both urban and rural environments
  • how to create transport which respects the needs of the individual.

Finding responses to these issues which can be put together to form a coherent strategy is a demanding task. Balancing the claims of the many and varied interests will add a dimension of complexity perhaps greater than in any other area of Government policy.