Tuesday, July 14, 1998 Published at 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Better late than never
Coaxing people out of their cars will be an uphill struggle
Punctuality is not a word you would associate with public transport in Britain - and delayed publication of the Transport White Paper, due out next week, just underlines this dismal reputation.
Until a decade ago, the belief was that growing traffic congestion could always be overcome by building more roads. But as the Conservative government doubled its roadbuilding programme, in "Roads to Prosperity" in 1989, planners realised that even spending £2bn a year would not keep pace with traffic forecasts.
Integrating trains, planes and automobiles
For Labour, reducing traffic congestion and pollution is a top priority. The Government wants a high quality, integrated transport system, in which it is easy to change between different modes - road, rail, bus, air - to persuade more people to make journeys by public transport. Ministers say the plan is not to be "anti-car", but to promote choice.
The White Paper will set out policies for improving all forms of transport.
In cities, it is expected to:
For motorways and trunk roads, it is likely to include:
On rail there will be a new Strategic Rail Authority, taking over the role of the Franchising Director.
Where's the money coming from?
The fundamental question is how can local authorities raise new money to tackle traffic congestion. Two key proposals are expected:
The White Paper will potentially mark a watershed in UK transport policy, ending forever roadbuilding "to meet demand", giving new priority to public transport, cycling and walking in cities, and reducing car dependency. But changing society's attitudes to transport could still take a generation.
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