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Transport and the Budget: Spend less on roads and more on public transport

8 March 2017

Campaign for Better Transport responds to today’s Budget announcement by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond MP.

The Budget sets out that £690 million more from the National Productivity Investment Fund is due to be competitively allocated to local authorities across England for local transport to improve congestion.

James MacColl, Head of Campaigns, Campaign for Better Transport said:

"It is vital that more of this funding go towards getting people out of their cars and onto public transport if we are to tackle lethal and illegal levels of air pollution in our towns and cities.

"To achieve this, we need an end to spending on new roads and more investment in better public transport, walking and cycling routes. We also need to locate new homes near public transport, and get more freight traffic off our roads and onto rail. That will give people real choice in how they travel, and liberate communities from the damaging effects of ever growing traffic levels.”

On the announcement of a freeze on Heavy Goods Vehicle duties and lack of action to reverse the planned cut to the Mode Shift Revenue Support Grants which compensate the rail freight industry for getting traffic off the roads, James MacColl said:

“Rail freight is the safer, faster and cleaner way to transport goods between our ports and cities so we are hugely disappointed that the Chancellor has frozen HGV Vehicle Excise Duty and Road User Levy rates, and not reversed the planned 21 per cent cut to the MSRSG rail freight grants. The cut, effective from April, will force trainloads of freight back onto our roads, worsening congestion and pollution.”

"We hope that the plans to consult on reforming HGV charging also announced in the Budget will be an opportunity for the Government to radically rethink its strategy on freight."

On the announcement that free transport for children on free school meals will be extended to selective schools, James MacColl said:

“Nearly 80 per cent of local authorities have reduced school and college transport since 2010. The impact of this on families has been huge - outside of London, 300,000 children and 50,000 young people have lost their transport to school or college since 2008. Children in rural areas are finding it especially hard as they have fewer and fewer public transport options to get to school or college.

“In the absence of ring-fenced funding, local authorities are cutting back transport more and more. We are calling on the Government to extend the statutory eligibility for free school or college transport to age 18, and to use the Bus Services Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, as an opportunity to commit to publishing a Bus and Coach Investment Strategy, including a strategy for the future of school and college transport."

“The Government urgently needs to step in to rescue local authority spending for transport, not just for clever kids going to grammar schools.”

And on pollution, James MacColl said:

“The Budget was a huge missed opportunity to address the health crisis of our age, air pollution, through introduction of a sensibly-scoped diesel scrappage scheme. This could have provided a boost to the UK's growing low carbon industry as well as helping deliver necessary compliance with legal air quality standards for communities across the country.”


For further information please contact Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 or richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
  • Read our School Transport Matters report here