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1999-12-01 DET-001
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

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Prescott publishes Transport Bill


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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions



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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Prescott publishes Transport Bill
_______________________________________________________________


date
1 December 1999
source Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
type Press release



Transport Bill plus Expanatory Notes

A safer, more integrated and better quality transport system moved a step closer today with the publication of the Government's radical and wide-ranging Transport Bill.

The Bill contains measures to:

establish the Strategic Rail Authority to make railway regulation more effective and make sure the fragmented rail companies provide a national service;

give local authorities a range of new powers to improve local bus services, giving bus passengers better quality, more reliable and comfortable buses with improved information and integrated ticketing;

require local authorities to prepare five-year plans to improve their local transport;

enable local authorities to introduce road charges or a levy on parking at the workplace to tackle congestion and pollution. They must consult locally first and revenue raised must be ploughed back into improving local transport;

provide for a public-private partnership for air traffic services – separating service provision from safety regulation;

require local authorities to offer half price concessionary fare, or better, for pensioners.

Publishing the Bill, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said:

"The centre piece of this Bill is better public transport, which will offer more choice for motorists and everyone else.

"Our Transport Bill contains radical measures designed to deliver the safe, modern and high quality transport this country needs and deserves. It is the most comprehensive pieces of Transport legislation for 30 years.

"The package of measures unveiled today demonstrates our commitment to radically improve rail bus and air traffic control services.

"Safety is at the centre of our proposals for a public private partnership (PPP) for National Air Traffic Services. Safety regulation will remain in the public sector, separate from service provisions. The PPP will give access to the management skills and the capital necessary to deal with ever increasing volumes of air traffic, whilst maintaining and enhancing safety standards.

"Local authorities will be given the tools necessary to develop quality public transport in their areas, and to tackle road road congestion and pollution. The Bill will enable local councils and bus operators to deliver more through-ticketing, higher quality buses, more frequent services and better information.

"Pensioners will have the right to half-price bus fares – as a minimum. An estimated three million pensioners will benefit from this measure.

"Our proposals for railways follow those published during the summer. They will establish the Strategic Rail Authority with tougher regulation on behalf of the passenger to bring the fragmented rail companies into a national service.

"We cannot solve all our transport problems overnight, but we have already made good headway. We have levered in increased investment and the measures contained in today's Bill pave the way for a better transport system for everyone."


Notes to Editors

There are four main parts to the Bill: Air Traffic, Local Transport, Road User Charging and Workplace Parking Levy, and Railways.

The Government's strategy for an integrated transport policy was set out in the White Paper "A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone" (Cm 3950) published in July 1998. Subsequent policy and consultation documents included:


"A Public Private Partnership for National Air Traffic Services Ltd (NATS)" published in October 1998. The Government's response to the consultation was published in July 1999;
"A New Deal for the Railways" (Cm 4024) published in July 1998;
"Breaking the Logjam: The Government's consultation paper on fighting traffic congestion and pollution through road user and workplace parking charges" published in December 1998;
"From Workhorse to Thoroughbred: A better role for bus travel" published in March 1999.

The National Air Traffic Service PPP will create a proper separation between the operation of air traffic services and its safety regulation. The Civil Aviation Authority will continue to regulate aviation safety to the highest standards.

Measures to improve local transport services are a key component of the Bill. Local authorities will be required to prepare transport plans (already being done on a voluntary basis), bringing together all their transport functions. They will also have to prepare a bus strategy, and will be given new powers to make changes that bus passengers will notice. Similarly, rail passengers will enjoy better, safer, faster and more frequent services as increased investment is delivered through the SRA.

All elderly people will have the right to half-price bus fares – as a minimum. Any existing local authority schemes which are even more generous can continue.

Local authorities will be given powers to introduce road charges or a levy on parking at the workplace to tackle local congestion and pollution problems. If they use either of these options, all revenue raised must be ploughed back into improving local transport. Before introducing charging schemes, local authorities consult widely and show that significant public transport improvements are already in place.

The Bill will also establish the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), which has been operating in shadow form since April this year. The SRA will assume the responsibilities of the Franchising Director, whose post will be abolished, and the residual functions of the British Railways Board. There will be enhanced enforcement powers against poor performers, and powers to require the provision of additional railway facilities.

National Air Traffic Services Public Private Partnership

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) will be separated from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which will continue as safety regulator.
Air traffic services currently provided by NATS (other than at airports) will be provided under a licence which will be issued by the Secretary of State.
The CAA will be responsible for the economic regulation of air traffic services and for air navigation services which are concerned with airspace policy.
In the event of a serious breach of licence, insolvency etc, provision is made for the continuity of air traffic services. The Secretary of State will be able to issue directions in the interests of national security.

Local Transport (Local Transport Plans and Buses)

Local transport authorities will be required to prepare and publish a local transport plan setting out their policies for the promotion of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities in their area. T, and to develop a bus strategy for carrying out their bus functions. Crucial to implementing our integrated transport policy.
The Bill requires authorities to develop a bus strategy. Together, the local plan and the bus strategy will provide a solid basis for implementing integrated transport policies at the local level.
The Bill will allow 'quality partnerships' between bus operators and local authorities to be put on a statutory basis. Authorities providing facilities as part of a partnership scheme – such as bus lanes – will be able to impose quality standards on operators using those facilities. This partnership approach is already proving successful in getting more people on to buses in many places around the country. Putting it on a statutory footing will allow all parties to invest with confidence. in the interests of promoting quality public transport and meeting objectives for traffic reduction and air quality improvement.
Local authorities will also be able to require bus operators to co-operate in the provision of joint ticketing and They will also be required ensure that bus passenger information is properly provided in their area. Traffic Commissioners' powers to fine operators for unreliable running will be enhanced.
There will also be powers for local authorities where it is in the public interest and subject to the consent of the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales (NAW), to enter into quality contracts for bus services under which local authorities would determine networks and service levels and let exclusive contracts for them. This will be subject to a 'public interest' test, and to the prior consent of the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales (NAW).
The Bill will introduce a national minimum standard for local authority concessionary fare schemes, guaranteeing all pensioners at least half-fare on buses, on payment of not more than £5 a year for a pass. Existing schemes which are as good as – or better than – this minimum standard can continue.
The Secretary of State or NAW will be able to make grants to local authorities and operators for general transport purposes. Both powers are simply to provide flexibility for future policy changes and developments.


Road User Charging and Workplace Parking Levy

The Bill extends to local authorities outside London the powers to tackle congestion that the GLA Act 1999 has given the London Mayor and boroughs.
The congestion charging powers provide both a new management tool and a source of new, guaranteed funding for local transport improvements.
Authorities will alternatively have the power to introduce a levy on parking at the workplace. (While the Bill does not preclude it, we do not expect both powers to be used together.)
Any Local Authority scheme, which starts within 10 years of the commencement of these powers, is guaranteed at least 10 years of 100% hypothecation of revenue to improve local transport, including better public transport.
The Secretary of State or NAW will scrutinise and approve individual schemes, including expenditure plans. They must be convinced that:

All proceeds will be put into real improvements to local transport;
Local people have been consulted properly;
The technology is in place to make it work across the country;
Public transport will be improved first, before charging starts;
The scheme is fair, proportionate and makes a real contribution to integrated transport locally; and
It is not envisaged that this will happen generally for at least 4 or 5 years.

The Secretary of State and NAW will be able to introduce complementary charges on trunk roads, at the request of the local charging authority. They will also be able to introduce charges on trunk road bridges and tunnels that are at least 600 metres in length. This will provide additional funding to build large, costly structures.


Railways

The Bill will abolish the Franchising Director, and vest his functions in the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) which the Bill will establish. The British Rail Board will be abolished. Its remaining functions, assets and liabilities will be transferred to the SRA.
The SRA will be given duties to promote rail use, plan the strategic development of the network, work closely with other transport providers and promote integration between transport modes.
The Rail Regulator's consumer protection functions will be transferred to the SRA. The Secretary of State will be able to take strategic decisions about on-track competition, advised by the SRA. The SRA will have the power to ask the Rail Regulator to direct licensed operators such as Railtrack to provide specified additional facilities and services, subject to adequate reward.
The Rail Regulator will become an independent economic Regulator responsible primarily for regulating access and other charges (but not rail fares, which will be regulated through franchise agreements as at present).
The duties in the Railways Act 1993 will be revised to remove any obligations on the Secretary of State or the Regulator to pursue privatisation related objectives, and to restore the Secretary of State's power to issue guidance to the Regulator.
The Rail Regulator will be obliged to facilitate SRA's strategies (balanced against his other duties), and enforcement powers.
The Scottish Executive will be able to issue instructions and guidance to the SRA on franchised services self-contained within Scotland, and to influence cross-border services, within the GB policy framework.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Press Enquiries: 0171 890 3066
Out of Hours: 0171 890 5925/5945
Public Enquiries Unit: 0171 890 3000
E-mail: press@dtlr.gov.uk
DETR Press Notices: http://www.press.dtlr.gov.uk/


Railhub Archive ::: 1999-12-01 DET-001





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