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Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK

UK Politics

'Cash needed to avoid traffic chaos'

The UK is facing a 70% rise in congestion in just 20 years.

Gridlock and traffic chaos in the UK's cities will get even worse unless public transport is given a huge cash injection, a new government-appointed group has said.

BBC Transport Correspondent Simon Montague: "A huge injection of cash is needed"
The Commission for Integrated Public Transport, which has been appointed by Transport Secretary John Prescott, was unveiled on Wednesday morning.

The commission said that although it is appointed by the government to ensure that change in the transport system happens, it will be independent of Whitehall.

[ image: Investing in public transport will help drivers]
Investing in public transport will help drivers
It promises to be "demanding and forthright - facilitating and cajoling government, local authorities, the transport sector, industry and the public".

The commission said money is needed immediately from the private sector and from "new government flexibilities" to make up for historic underfunding of public transport.

Chairman David Begg said that the most anti-car policy for the country would be to delay measures offering motorists more alternatives to their private transport.

Such delays would lead to more gridlock and paralysis in cities and on certain sections of the UK's motorways, he said.

Mr Begg said: "At present rates of traffic growth, we are facing a 70% rise in congestion in just 20 years.

"By then, central London drivers would be spending a third of their time at a standstill."

He and commission vice-chairman Sir Trevor Chinn called for a dramatic increase in spending on infrastructure, adding: "We need that expenditure now.

[ image: John Prescott:
John Prescott: "Inherited massive problem"
"Without the benefits it will bring, people will not have the confidence or the incentive to look at alternatives to the car."

Mr Prescott told the BBC the government had inherited a massive problem which was growing.

He said: "You can't build yourself out of the problem, what you've got to provide is better public transport."

His department's white paper on integrated transport had suggested more cash from the government, public-private partnerships and raised through congestion charges, he said.

Mr Prescott said: "All these will provide more resources to be given as a priority to transport so we can improve it and give a choice to the motorist. so he or she can make the choice that it is better, more reliable to use public transport than the congestion they are facing in the motor vehicle - it's about choice."

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