Election 2010: What does the Green Party manifesto say on transport?

This election is, perhaps, the most important election since 1910, when the House of Commons finally broke away from the House of Lords; the election could provide a similar shift in power towards the people.

With not a single question on transport in the three leaders’ debates the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) has examined all the parties’ manifestos and commented on their policies.

Director at the ETA, Andrew Davis, said: “The Green party has the most radical proposals regarding transport and the Greens have thought through policies on all modes and how they fit together as part of their vision. If they were to be the government and were therefore in a position to put these policies into effect I think they would find public opinion would be against them and they would have to undertake extensive publicity to get their ideas across. They would be interesting times.”

Green Manifesto Comments
General. The quality of our lives depends a great deal on the quality of our local services. None of us wants to travel miles to go to school or to the doctor. Services must be accessible. This means they must be easy and affordable to reach by public transport – and within walking distance in urban areas. Promoting safety and sustainability The emphasis in transport policy should be upon improving access to local facilities and everyday transport. We would prioritise transport modes according to the following hierarchy: 1. Walking and cycling 2. Public transport (trains, trams and buses) and rail freight 3. Cars 4. Heavy goods vehicles 5. Flying. Of the five manifestos the greens, for me at least start in the correct place. Walking is the centre of any transport policy.
Walking. To encourage walking and cycling for shorter journeys and improve road safety we would reduce speed limits, for example to 20mph in built-up areas, including villages and make streets safe; make them public spaces again. This is on the button. No other party has walking this central to their thinking. I am not sure that all urban roads should have a speed limit of 20mph. London’s North Circular Road would be quite interesting with a 20mph limit. (However, in the rush hour I guess traffic goes no faster anyway).
Walking. Introduce schemes such as Home Zones, Safe Routes to School and pedestrianisation. This should be mainstream in this country. Needs investment. It sounds as if the Green party, if elected would require all localities to introduce these measures whether they want to or not.
Cycling. Plan for mixed-use developments where shops, housing and businesses are closely located and connected by pavements and cycleways. Good land-use planning is central to any serious transport policy.
Cycling. Ensure that at least 10% of transport spending is on securing a shift to more active travel like walking and cycling. With this sort of budget change, away from current practice, everyone will be on their bikes. Again this appears to be a central directive.
Cars. Introduce a maximum speed limit of 55mph on motorways and trunk roads, and 40mph on rural roads, to make them safer for all road users. This is more of a climate change measure than safety. True lowering speeds on motorways will increase safety but dealing with driver attitude is more cost effective. Gain 40mph is high for a lane but low for a non-trunk dual carriageway.
Freight. We would reduce heavy freight and shift it from the roads to the railways. We will reduce the demand for freight transport by localising the economy. How? By taxation or regulation – we need to be given some idea. The aspiration to localise the economy is central to the Greens philosophy but it is far easier said than done.
Freight. Safeguard land adjacent to railways for use in freight distribution projects. Forward thinking is always a good idea.
Freight. Introduce road user tolls for heavy lorries. Good first step towards general road user charging.
Road Congestion. Prioritise public transport, then if necessary work towards the introduction of road pricing schemes like the London congestion charge. Even free public transport will not get rid of congestion so they’ll have to bring in road-user charging quite quickly.
Roadworks. No mention. Cyclists are especially affected by roadworks both in the danger caused by temporary working and by the resultant poor road surface.
Travel Concessions. Support free local transport for pensioners. Every young person under the age of 18 and in full time education should be entitled to free off-peak bus fares, to encourage public transport habits in young people early on with a view to making this a behaviour for life. Discounted fares for off-peak journeys and for those with low incomes. Concessionary fares are popular with those that benefit from them. They are also very expensive. In my view they should be reviewed for their merits – giving well-off fit old people free travel might not be the best use of limited resources but I am willing to be persuaded especially that the Greens support local transport as oppose to long distance transport. Giving children free off-peak bus travel makes more sense. Having lower fares for poorer people seems a caring idea on the face of it but it could undermine other social and environmental goals unintentionally. In any case the national government should not fund local transport – leave that to county government (in England).
Buses. Investing in public transport Expansion of public transport (and walking and cycling) is critically important to decarbonising our transport infrastructure, which is the only sector in which climate-altering carbon emissions are currently growing. We would divert money currently being wasted on huge road projects and put more of Britain’s transport budget into public transport, and especially into local schemes for walking, cycling and bus travel. We would spend £1.5 billion subsidizing existing public transport to make fares up to 10% cheaper, and £30 billion over the Parliament on investing in a better system. The Greens are very keen on buses.
Buses. Reregulate bus services nationally The Greens believe in localism – I would have liked to see that that would have enabled localities to have the ability to regulate or run the buses rather than the national government mandating that localities must do so.
Buses. The new investment in public transport should itself be in low-carbon technologies as far as possible. Only the Greens and Libdems mention removing carbon for the bus system. Although the Libdems appear to want to spend more money on it.
Rail. Invest in new Light Rapid Transit systems (using appropriate technologies). Certainly enabling counties to plan and fund their own light rail systems would be a major step forward.
Rail. Give higher priority to railways and plan for a growing railway network. Open additional stations on existing routes. A rail network gains strength from more branches and stations. With resources scarce a hardnosed approach will be required to ensure development takes place in the most cost effective manor.
Rail. Simplify fares for all public transport. There is always a tension between effective utilisation of the rail system and having a simple fare structure. However I agree with the Greens that we need a simpler, more understandable and more accessible fare structure – between rail and bus too.
Rail. Return the railways, tube system and other light railway systems, including both track and operations, to public ownership. I do not think ownership is so important but control is.
Rail. Support in principle a new north–south high-speed line, which would reduce the number of short-haul flights within Britain. This appears to be luke warm.
Waterways. Make greater use of waterways, where suitable. An aspiration but no detail.
Air. Stop airport expansion and shift shorter air journeys to the railways (45% of all air trips in the EU are under 500Km) A bit strict – is this all developments of any kind in any airport?
Air. Ban night flying. We would need to define what night flying is (after dark?). I do not think a national government should ban night flying because, as this is a noise issue and airplanes make more noise as they take off or land, such control should rest with the localities concerned.
Land-use Planning. Assist businesses with green workplace travel plans. There is a lot of knowledge available which does not get to business – especially small ones. This would, if co-ordinated well, have a significant effect.
Land-use Planning. The Green party will prohibit new private retail parking in large developments, apart from for the disabled. Retail parking – especially for large developments – is a big issue. I think that no new developments should be built more than 800 metres from a town centre and any car parking provision would have to be available for all.
Land-use Planning. Oppose the introduction of a non-elected Planning Commission, particularly for new roads, runways, incinerators and inappropriate housing developments, and ensure that sustainable development, not just economic development, is at the heart of the planning system. Up to a point. No locality can hold the rest of the country to ransom when networks (cable, rail, road or pipeline) require access. But single developments, for example, incinerators or power stations would have to find a locality which would give planning permission.
Land-use Planning. Require all major development plans and planning applications to show how they will contribute to carbon reduction targets. Why ever not.
Land-use Planning. Introduce stronger planning policies to support onshore wind, tidal, wave, solar and geothermal energy schemes, and help local planning authorities to make more consistent decisions. Give micro-renewables ‘permitted development’ status. Helping localities to make better decisions but one should be careful about forcing people to have developments in the locality that they do not want.
Land-use Planning. Everyone should live within walking distance of natural green space. This is very important in my view. I would go further mini green belts for every locality.
Taxes. We would make the cost of private cars more effectively mirror their environmental cost to wider society: Of course we should but how? Whatever we do we should do equally for all polluters. Motorists already pay far more for climate change than offices. How can we make motorists pay for perceived danger on our roads? And can we tally that with the danger that our government puts us in when it invades foreign countries.
Taxes. Discourage use of fossil fuels by bringing back the fuel duty escalator, increasing duty in real terms by 8% per annum and through a series of other measures in this manifesto. I said in the 1990s that the fuel duty escalator was doomed to fail because it was based on nothing but the desire to tax cars. There should not be any tax on petrol at all – by all means tax carbon, danger, pollution, even social severance but not petrol itself.
Taxes. Abolish car tax and replace it with a purchase tax on new cars that reflects their emissions. That way we would affect the types of car chosen at the time that matters, when they are bought new. People buy cars for all manner of reasons. As long as the environment is fully accounted for within the running cost people will take that into account. Research shows that a purchase tax of £1,560 will have a greater effect than an annual tax of £156 which in turn has a great effect than a weekly petrol tax of £3. (People notice lump sums more). On this basis we could send lifetime a climate offset bill to anyone who has a child.
Taxes. We would reduce air travel by introducing a tax on aviation that reflects its full environmental costs. Failure to tax aviation fuel, and choosing not to levy VAT on tickets and aircraft, amounts to a subsidy worth around £10bn every year in Britain alone. • Totally correct in principle but it would be good if they had given us the details of how they plan to do it. Any duty that could be applied to aviation that took account of the lack of VAT and fuel tax would be useful as long as it did not conflict with international (American) law.
Taxes. Carbon quota for all. Everyone given their own quota and can buy or sell to others. I like this idea and would recommend it to run in parallel to a carbon tax (or even supplant it) if the computer system require could be built on time and to budget – government does not have a good record on this. Perhaps a credit card merchant could provide the service.
Local Government. Revive local government, with the introduction of proportional representation and with grassroots democracy spreading through the use of smaller community and district councils. Such authorities should have enhanced powers, and in due course new tax-raising powers. I cannot agree more. Sovereignty belongs to the people. If people pool part of their sovereignty for the common good then outside of the economy people look to their locality. Therefore I would say that local government may do what it likes as long as it does not affect the wider society.
Local government. Decentralise healthcare responsibility to local government, ensure that minimum service levels and national guidelines are provided to prevent a postcode lottery, and oppose further health service centralisation. I could not agree more. My county has the people and the money to its own health service.

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