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Government transport assessment reforms don't go far enough

6 April 2009
Campaign for Better Transport welcomes reforms announced today [1] to the way the Government assesses transport projects but say they don’t go far enough. While public transport and cycling schemes should become easier to fund as a result of the reforms, there is still too much priority to tiny time savings for motorists and not enough on reducing carbon emissions and protecting landscapes.

Stephen Joseph, the group’s executive director, said:

"We have campaigned to make the Government’s transport appraisal more even-handed and support schemes that will give real choice to transport users, and these reforms go some way to helping. However, we think tiny time savings, especially by motorists, still get too much value in the system, and other factors like carbon reduction and traffic intrusion get far too little. Government economists are still trying to put meaningless monetary values on landscape and trade them off against small time savings. We will be pressing for further reforms and for the Government to apply these reforms to several current road schemes to ensure that they don’t get priority. What matters is what actually gets built – and at present too many road schemes and not enough sustainable transport projects are coming forward from regional bodies and local councils." [2]


Notes to Editors

[1] On 6 April 2009, the Government published [the following link was updated March 2010] its response to the Nata Refresh consultation which examined how it appraises transport projects. Campaign for Better Transport lobbied for changes to the appraisal system [369K pdf] because it was biased towards road building.

The reforms show some significant changes on current practice:


  • The health benefits of walking and cycling schemes will be taken into account, as part of the Government’s anti-obesity drive
  • Schemes that get people out of cars will no longer have to treat fuel tax loss as a disbenefit
  • Work will be done to define more precisely the time savings for transport users that are such a big part of many transport schemes



[2] Each English region (except London) has been compiling a wish-list of the transport schemes that they would like Government funding for. Although they could have picked any number of public transport schemes, most of them wanted to spend most of the money building roads [79K pdf].