- 2002 National Delegate Conference
- 9 May 2002
Conference accepts that transport is vital to the social and economic life of the country. However, real social and economic progress can only be made where all modes of transport are fully integrated and serve the people at reasonable cost. A fully integrated transport system should link air, bus, rail and ferry and should acknowledge and accommodate the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. It should be socially inclusive, recognising that substantial numbers of people, particularly the elderly, disabled and low income households, do not have access to a private car and depend exclusively on public transport for efficient, safe travel.
Conference is alarmed that Britain’s public transport system is suffering from years of neglect and under-investment. It welcomes the UK Government’s and the Scottish Executive’s Transport Bills which give a commitment to increase investment, but believes that policies such as bus deregulation and rail privatisation make it difficult to achieve the two Bills’ transport strategy, which aim to create a fully integrated system. Bus services should improve with the adoption of schemes such as Quality Partnerships and Local Transport Plans, but there needs to be greater regulation of bus companies to ensure effective, efficient delivery of services. On the other hand, the structures put in place at rail privatisation have led to a series of serious problems with Railtrack, now in administration, and the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) and there is now a problem with National Air Traffic Service (NATS).
Conference believes that transport is a key public service and that those with responsibility for delivering a safe, integrated and environmentally friendly transport system should be democratically accountable with service to the people, not profit to the shareholders, a first priority. Consequently, Conference believes that a publicly owned, democratically controlled transport system is the best method of achieving this, as well as fulfilling the objectives of adequate funding, effective delivery, equality of access and genuine partnership, all as set out in UNISON’s Positively Public Transport Charter.
Conference welcomes the report of the Commission for Integrated Transport on Road Congestion Pricing as an innovative way forward to easing congestion on the UK’s primary routes by charging for miles of use. The proposal is the best way of overcoming high road use in rural areas where there is no public transport alternative so any charges will not be levied on this segment of the community, which would otherwise have been the case with an additional levy on fuel use.
Conference notes that this policy is unlikely to be adopted in advance of quality public transport being in place, namely a carrot before the stick approach; but the announcement of this policy, which will hopefully be adopted by the Government, does much to bring home to commuting motorists that they cannot continue to clog up our arterial roads to the detriment of public transport the real people mover.
Conference believes that Britain’s bus services have a central role in the provision of safe integrated transport at reasonable cost and are a key promoter of social inclusion. Buses are a major mode of local travel for the elderly, disabled, parents with young children and low income households. They also have the potential to attract those who currently use cars for short journeys and if integrated with other forms of transport can attract people from cars for longer journeys.
Conference welcomes the UK Government and the Scottish and Welsh Executive’s efforts to improve bus services in both urban and rural areas, but believes that substantially more needs to be done if more people are to use buses and other forms of public transport, thereby reducing congestion and pollution, tackling social exclusion and enhancing the economic well-being of communities throughout the country.
Conference therefore calls for:
1)Substantial investment to double bus usage throughout the UK; and investment to double the Ten Year Plan’s bus usage target from 10 per cent to 20 per cent;
2)Better and more consistent concessionary fare schemes for senior citizens, disabled people, students and job seekers;
3)Greater powers for local transport authorities to enforce service standards and full integration of all modes of transport;
4)Protection of employees’ terms and conditions;
5)Meaningful partnerships between transport authorities, operators, passengers, trade unions and community organisations;
6)The Government and Scottish and Welsh Executives to introduce proper planning, control and implementation of schemes to make roads safer and cleaner by reducing congestion;
7)Bus services to be improved to attract those people who use cars for short journeys;
8)The improvement of all the transport services which are an essential means of local travel for everyone in rural and island communities;
9)The creation of a UK bus regulatory body similar to the Strategic Rail Authority.
10)Measures to improve access for the socially excluded, particularly disabled people, women and people in rural areas who depend heavily on public transport.
11)The National Executive Council to campaign for pump priming funds to be made available by the Treasury for public transport revenue schemes in advance of new income forthcoming from road pricing so that motorists, and car users generally, can see the advantages of what is being proposed.