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2000-12-04 DET-001
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

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Transport Bill receives Royal Assent - a better transport system for the new century


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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Transport Bill receives Royal Assent - a better transport system for the new century
_______________________________________________________________


date
4 December 2000
source Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
type Press release

note News Release 742


The Government's determination to create a safe, modern, integrated and effective transport system has taken a major step forward with Royal Assent of the Transport Bill.

The Transport Act 2000 is the most comprehensive piece of transport legislation in over 30 years. It contains a wide range of new powers to improve local transport services and will enable a public-private partnership (PPP) to be established for National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

Publishing the Act, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said:

"I am extremely proud of the Transport Act 2000 which is a key part of our objective to create the transport system this country needs and deserves. Much has already been done to turn around the congested, investment--starved transport system we inherited. The 10 Year Plan for transport which I unveiled in July set out the long term investment strategy and with this Act we have the powers to bring further improvements at local level including bus services, railways, road user charging and the workplace parking levy.

"The Act also enables a public-private partnership to be established to give NATS access to the skills and finance necessary to manage ever-increasing volumes of air traffic. One of the most important features of the PPP will be the separation of safety regulation from service provision.

"Upholding safety standards remains the Government's first priority and the Act sets out very clearly that maintaining safety is - -and will continue to be - of the utmost importance. We shall use the time before the establishment of the PPP to continue discussions with stakeholders to ensure that the PPP operates effectively and with the confidence of all involved."

The Act contains a large package of measures to improve local transport services. It requires local authorities to prepare local transport plans, which will include a bus strategy setting out how their bus functions are to be exercised.

Local authorities have the power to improve local bus services through Quality Partnerships and Quality Contracts, to promote integrated ticketing, and improve passenger information. All elderly and disabled people will have the statutory right to half-price local bus fares with a free bus pass.

Local authorities are also given powers to introduce road charging in towns and cities to reduce road congestion and pollution. They will also be able to impose workplace parking charges. Revenue raised will be ploughed back into local transport improvements. Local authorities will be able to request the Secretary of State and National Assembly for Wales to introduce charges on trunk roads where this complements a local authority scheme. The Secretary of State and National Assembly for Wales will also be able to charge for trunk road bridges and tunnels of at least 600 metres in length.

The Act establishes the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and provides for better regulation of the railway industry. The SRA will provide strategic direction for rail transport as part of an integrated transport system. Both the SRA and the Rail Regulator will have more effective powers to impose penalties on operators who do not meet their obligations.

The Act also includes a number of important additional provisions including enhanced powers to charge utility companies for digging up roads, powers to impound lorries which are operating illegally, a wider role for school crossing patrols, legal status for quiet lanes and home zones and the extension of the freight facilities grant scheme to short sea and coastal shipping routes.

John Prescott concluded:

"The provisions in the Act provide a comprehensive package of measures which will build on the start we have made to transform this country's transport into the safe, modern, efficient system which will be the envy of other nations."

Notes to editors
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 dealing with road traffic, published in December 1998. The Government's response to the consultation was published in December 1999;

"From Workhorse to Thoroughbred: A better role for bus travel" published in March 1999.

The Transport Bill, together with the Explanatory Notes and Impact Assessments, was published on 1 December 1999. The Bill received a Second Reading in the House of Commons on 20 December and was considered by a Committee of the House of Commons between January and April 2000. The Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 12 May 2000. On 15 November 2000 the Bill returned to the House of Commons for consideration of amendments made by the House of Lords. Further consideration of the proposals for NATS took place in both Houses earlier this week. The Bill received Royal Assent on 30 November 2000.

Details of the provisions
The Act contains five parts: Air Traffic, Local Transport, Road User Charging and Workplace Parking Levy, Railways, and Miscellaneous and Supplementary Provisions.

AIR TRAFFIC

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) will be separated from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which will continue as safety regulator. The continued safety of air traffic services will be the first priority.

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 Act provides for transfer schemes, so that the public-private partnership for NATS can be taken forward. There is also provision for a continuing shareholding in NATS 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, as well as for safety regulation.

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 (LTP) setting out their policies for the promotion of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities in their area. LTPs will include a bus strategy for carrying out their bus functions.

Quality partnerships between bus operators and local authorities are 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.

Local authorities will be able to take on powers to enforce bus lanes by the use of cameras, using a civil process similar to that used for parking enforcement, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales. London authorities can already do this.

Local authorities will be able to require bus operators to co-operate in the provision of joint ticketing. Authorities will have a duty to secure the provision of bus passenger information in their area.

Local authorities will also be able to enter into quality contracts for bus services, with the approval of the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales. These will involve local authorities determining bus networks and service levels, and letting exclusive contracts to bus operators to provide them.

A national minimum standard for local authority concessionary fare schemes is introduced, guaranteeing all pensioners and disabled people half-fare or better on local buses, with a free bus pass.

Traffic Commissioners are given enhanced powers to impose financial penalties on operators for running unreliable services.

The Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales (NAW) will be able to make grants to local authorities for public transport purposes. And there will be a power to make grants to bus operators. Both powers are widely drawn to provide flexibility for future policy changes and developments.

ROAD USER CHARGING AND WORKPLACE PARKING LEVY

Local traffic authorities are given powers to introduce road user charging schemes to tackle congestion problems. These powers mirror those already available to the London Mayor and London Boroughs.

As an alternative approach, authorities also have the power to introduce a levy on parking at the workplace.

The congestion charging powers provide both new demand management tools, and a source of new, guaranteed funding for local transport improvements. The Act provides that any scheme starting in the 10 years following commencement of the powers will bring 100% hypothecation of revenue to improve local transport, including better public transport, for at least 10 years.

The Secretary of State or NAW will scrutinise and approve individual schemes, including expenditure plans.

The Secretary of State and NAW will be able to introduce charges on trunk roads complementary to a local authority charging scheme, at the request of the local authority.

The Secretary of State and NAW will also be able to introduce charges on trunk road bridges and tunnels at least 600 metres in length, to make investment more affordable.

RAILWAYS

The Act sets up the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), which is given duties to promote rail use, secure the development of the network, and contribute to the development of an integrated transport system.

Passengers have a stronger and more effective voice. The Rail Passengers' Committees have new powers to champion passengers' interests. The enforcement powers of the SRA and the Regulator are enhanced. Monetary penalties may be imposed for contraventions of licence conditions and franchise agreements. In contrast to the Railways Act 1993, these will cover past breaches as well as those, which are continuing.

The Rail Regulator's role is redefined. The Regulator's consumer protection functions are transferred to the SRA. The Regulator is obliged to facilitate the furtherance of the SRA's strategies, and to contribute to integrated transport and sustainable development (balanced against his other duties).

The SRA, or another person with the consent of the SRA, can ask the Rail Regulator to direct facility owners such as Railtrack to provide, improve or develop railway facilities, subject to adequate reward.

The Act amends the Railways Act 1993 to remove any obligations on the Secretary of State or the Regulator to pursue privatisation-related objectives, and restores a power for the Secretary of State to issue guidance to the Regulator.

The Scottish Ministers are 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.

The Franchising Director is abolished, and his functions vested in the SRA.

The British Railways Board will be wound up as soon as possible and its remaining functions, assets and liabilities will be transferred to the SRA.

MISCELLANEOUS AND SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS

The Act legislates on a number of additional measures, as follows:

Street works
The Act contains reserve powers to enhance existing powers in the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 for charging utility companies for street works, which are unreasonably prolonged. These new powers would allow local highway authorities to charge utility companies from the start of works - ie lane rental.

Driver training
The Act gives the Secretary of State power to introduce training schemes for users of different classes of motor vehicle. Similar powers already exist for the basic training courses for moped and motorcycle riders; the Act extends these powers to other types of vehicle. The Act also allows appeals against registration as an Approved Driving Instructor to be heard by the Transport Tribunal.

HGV impounding
The Act contains important safety provisions, which allow the Police, and Vehicle Inspectorate to impound Heavy Goods Vehicles found at roadside checks to be operating illegally.

Exemption from type approval
The Act allows additional flexibility to exempt certain vehicles - for example prototypes, or vehicles constructed for specific purposes, such as carrying abnormal loads - from the type approval rules.

Licensing of private hire vehicles
The Act provides that if a vehicle is used as a private hire vehicle, then it must be licensed accordingly. The only exception is if it is used as a small part of a business which otherwise involves the operation of large buses.

Drivers' hours
The Act tightens the current regulations governing goods vehicles drivers' hours. Where drivers are found to be in breach of the drivers' hours regulations, the Police and the Vehicle Inspectorate will be able to prohibit drivers from continuing their journeys until the required rest period has been taken. This is another important safety measure.

London bus service permit appeals
The Act provides that appeals against the refusal, revocation or suspension of a London bus service permit will be considered by an independent panel appointed by the Lord Chancellor.

Home Zones and Quiet lanes
The Act gives legal status to the concept of quiet lanes and home zones. These aim to change the way streets and roads are used, seeking to make them places for people not just traffic. Local authorities will be able to make orders governing the use of these roads and measures to reduce speeds in them.

Speed limits in rural areas
The Act contributes further to the Government's road safety objectives, by requiring the Secretary of State to review the need for a rural speed hierarchy and publish a report within 12 months.

School crossing patrols
The Act honours the Government's pledge to review the operation of school crossing patrols. Patrols will in future be able to assist anyone across the road, for example disabled people or adults with preschool aged children. In addition the Act removes the time limits by which school crossing patrols may operate to allow patrols to assist people across the road at any time.

Secure cycle parking
The Act provides a major step forward in preventing theft of motorcycles. It enables local authorities to provide secure parking for motorcycles as well as bicycles at designated places on the highway or in off-street car parks.

Extension of the freight facilities grant
The Act extends the freight facilities grant scheme to coastal and short sea shipping routes. This is an important environmental measure which is aimed at encouraging the switch of freight from road to sea routes where this is appropriate.


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Media enquiries 020 7944 3066; Out of hours: 020 7944 5925 or 5945
Public Enquiries Unit 020 7944 3000
E-mail: press@dtlr.gov.uk
Web site http://www.dtlr.gov.uk/


Railhub Archive ::: 2000-12-04 DET-001





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