Friday, January 9, 2009

Integrated Transport

At the December meeting of the Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Group we discussed the idea of sending a submission to Compass the independent democratic left pressure group for its project "How To Live In The 21st Century" (see Compass links on the item below). We came up with a set of ideas for establishing an integrated transport system. Based on the discussions, I have drafted the following submission in the format required by Compass. But we will need to re-examine this at the February meeting of the Group. It could be subject to numbers of changes before it is submitted. In preparation for the February meeting, members of the Group will be given a full opportunity to propose amendments of style and substance. One avenue is for them to do this via the comment box on this thread. Others who aren't members of the Group are more than welcome to submit their own ideas, which will be brought to the attention of the Dronfield meeting.

The final submission to Compass will also appear on this blog. This is the current state of play -

Policy Name : Integrated Transport.

Policy Explanation

A programme to move towards the effective use of an integrated public transport system; involving the establishment of a variety of forms of social ownership for the operations of buses, trams, taxis, aeroplanes, ships and lorries. In order to reduce congestion on our roads, priority will be given to public forms of transport over the use of private cars. A full use of an expanded rail network would be employed for the movement of goods as well as passengers. To maximize the use of public transport facilities, cheap and free fares would be extended, based on need. Current free and concessionary travel facilities for pensioners and others would provide a model for such schemes. Publicly run (or supported) taxi services, buses, trams, planes and ships would be linked whenever possible at bus and tram terminals, airports and ports. Entitlement to air travel would balance the needs of travellers with carbon footprint considerations.

Arguments In Favour

1. The programme would provide freedom of movement for many currently isolated due to age, poverty and residence in isolated communities.

2. The programme would tackle problems of traffic congestion and pollution and cut back on the need for disruptive road building programmes.

3. The programme would provide travel in a social context with people moving away from being isolated in their cars.

Arguments Against

1. Unless the policy is constructed with care, it could alienate wide sectors of the population who are committed to private car ownership and usage.

2. There will be dangers of job losses in the car industry, unless it is re-structured and re-equipped to provide the transport needs of the growing public market.

3. Many of the people required to operate an integrated public transport system will need to be drawn from current transport avenues which are run on the basis of competitive norms. They will need to be assisted to develop a public service ethos.

How Does The Policy Relate To the Core Beliefs of Compass? (i.e. equality, collectivism, sustainability, democracy.)

An integrated transport system will radically extend equal access to convenient forms of transport to everyone. It will challenge the possessive individualism which arises from the current dominance of private car ownership and advance collective and co-operative forms of behavior. In reducing private car usage, congestion and pollution; a sustainable transport system would reduce the need for road building and disruption. To operate a widespread and interlinked public transport system, there would be the need for a variety of forms of municipal, co-operative, regional and national forms of ownership.

How Does It Build The Institutions Of Social Democracy?

The variety of forms of public ownership mentioned above would require a range of forms of Democratic control. Many bus and tram companies could operate under local government control with their electors and users being encouraged to join in organisational structures to influence local transport policy decisions. Taxi operations would normally function under local co-operative arrangements with those operating and using taxis having a democratic input. Differing Air and Shipping Companies could operate at a variety of democratically controlled levels according to the scope of their operations. Operations at a UK or national level would function mainly for the major framework in an expanded railway system and in establishing and supervising the necessary interlinks between differing forms of transport. These would need to be subject to wide and open forms of national and UK parliamentary scrutiny.

What Are The Cost Implications?

With the expansion of public ownership decisions will have to be made on compensation levels for the previous shareholders. It is possible for the scale of compensation to differ between major investors on the one hand and on the other hand holdings by pensions funds, public bodies and small shareholders. The programme would also lead to a decline in both private car production and imports, with an associated loss of advertising and taxation revenue. Alternatively, the cut back in the use of private cars will save police and health service costs as accidents and pollution decline. Savings would be made in the decline in the need for road widening and construction programmes.

Who Wins And Loses Amongst The Electorate?

Resistance to aspects of the programme would come from many car owners, yet as individuals they would benefit from a more integrated transport system which would build a more civilised society. Strong support would come from many young people (in particular) who have commitments to environmental improvement.

A Sound Bite For The Public?

We will be able to move around conveniently when we want at a cost we can afford.

Where Has This Worked Before?

An aspect of the policy was run by the former South Yorkshire Metropolitan Council in relation to its bus services. It was possible to find buses easily and to interchange between services. Bus prices were held, becoming relatively cheap over time. It was popular and well used, until it was disbanded due to the actions of the Thatcher Government.

The Dronfield Labour Party Discussion meeting came up with a second set of proposals on the topic of "Political Education". It will be covered in the same format as above in an item to be posted tomorrow.


  1. Harry, why single out loss of advertising as a significant cost implication?
    Surely more buses (i.e. potential advertising sites) will mean more opportunities for advertising income?

  2. Blogger Brader:
    My reason was that given a fall in the market for cars, there is likely to be less advertising in the media for sales and for car insurance and other car related matters.

  3. Harry, I'm still not sure that the loss of advertising is significant enough to mention. However I do think that the benefit of an affordable integrated transport system to our Tourism industry is worth mentioning. On my recent trip to San Francisco and Brisbane I was struck by the ease of use and reasonable cost of their transport systems.

  4. BB: The section on costs will need to be slimmed down slightly. The Compass word limited for the section is 100 words and I seem to have 109 words in the draft. So the advertising bit could go. It was to be hard- headed that I had added cons as well as pros in the section. If your tourism aspect is added, then we may need to cull more than just the advertising issue. The other alternative is for me to find ways of saying more in fewer words. Your point is a perfectly valid one.

    I may have exceeded the word limit in other sections also. I will need to check. But my original drafts on paper were a rough fit. The word limits are 400 for the early policy explanation, 25 words for the Sound Bite. Nothing on the title. The limit is otherwise a 100 words a section. The 3 arguments for and 3 against also have a total word limit of 100 (although this wasn't stated in the orginal material which I was working from.) The order of presentation has also been altered, see -

  5. This is such a crucial issue and has a profound impact on both environment and employment (not to mention that a greener environment has an impact on the health and wellbeing on people) public transport also impacts on mental health (as a daily driver on the M1?), public safety (public transport is safer).

    If we Start in Dronfield, the revival of the local train services (after decades of neglect) must have a positive impact on our local community and economy. We need to campaign to ensure that the railway station becomes a hub for integrated public transport services (local bus routes do not seem to recognise this yet?)

    Wider issues - HGV's are a major cause of accidents (just listen to Radio 5 every day) and polutions. Their impact on local road infrastructure (look at all of the HGV depot's in our small Town!) on motorways etc. Should we limit HGV's at peak road use times (morning and evenings?) improve rail links for goods trains? Open/Reopen lines.

    Just think what re-opening the Derby to Buxton line would do to encourage 'greener tourism' and greener transport in general. Lets be revolutionary and suggest that there is a strong arguement to bring supertram to Dronfield?

    Bob Quick

  6. Bob Quick : Our discussion meeting on Sunday 8 February will be given over to finalising submissions on "Integrated Transport" and "Political Education". They will afterwards be submitted to Compass.

    It srikes me that we can also follow the matters up via Dronfield Branch Labour Party meetings. This is not the forum for discussing their internal business. But your ideas on Dronfield and other Derbyshire-based matters would be particularly appropriate for consideration via that avenue also.

  7. At our Discussion Group Meeting on 14 December it was Ken Turton who initially proposed that one of our submissions to Compass should be on “Integrated Transport”. He then elaborated on his proposal which led to a full discussion of his ideas. He has now submitted the following comments to me in writing for inclusion on this thread. He includes a section on “Political Education” which is also relevant to the thread we provide above this one. Ken is a retired railway worker from Sheffield.


    The building of another runway at Heathrow would cost somewhere in the region of £10 billion. Then there would be the attendant destruction of local amenities along with further world wide air pollution.. Those arguing in favour of a new runway tend to stress the jobs it would create and the need for the economic survival of Britain’s air transport facilities - although the latter claim is as silly as the notion that the moon is made of green cheese.

    The facts are that about a third of the flights in and out of Heathrow are short haul ones and could, therefore, quite easily be catered for by an expanded railway system. Such a move would also increase short and long term employment. The cash which is to be shovelled into the building of a new runway could instead be used to expand the railway system, encompassing new track and rolling stock which could incorporate new technology including an automated service which has been on the cards for some 20 years or more.

    Indeed the Victoria Line on London Underground uses an advanced technology which only needs a driver to sit in the cab, which is only needed as a means of security for the travelling public. Such technology has improved beyond all recognition, although the general public are unaware of this innovation.

    Such technology used on the railways is far more efficient, safer and less costly than flying, car use and bus travel. It is also better for the environment in cutting out air pollution and carbon emissions.

    Before, however, the above proposals can be put into place, we would have to see a general improvement in the political education of the people of this country. At the present time thinking is generally centred upon privatisation and the use of private capital. It has to be said, however, that these cannot provide the wherewithal to meet my proposals. Nor do such avenues themselves believe they could supply what is necessary. To follow an unbridled competitive system is to ensure that the devil takes the hindmost.

    In such a situation, an alternative dogma of sorts is the only answer to privatisation. Indeed what is privatisation other than a dogma and one which transgresses upon people’s lives in as much as it provides substandard services at high prices.

    Nevertheless, dogma or not what is need is as Dronfield Blather puts it - a transport system integrated in such a way as to be of benefit to all and not the few.

    The role of railways in an integrated transport system would require a curb being placed on the need for the use of heavy road transport. Here we have to tackle another dogma from the Road Haulers and their drivers against goods traffic travelling by rail. It was a post-war Conservative Government which transferred the bulk of goods traffic onto the roads, altering a pattern that was established from the time the railways were invented.

    The 1945-51 Labour Government appointed General Sir Brian Robertson as Commissioner for Transport in 1947. He resigned in 1955 because he saw no value in the job, due to he Conservative transport policy at that time.

    So any alteration in which we move to a social transport system would need the appointment of a Transport Minister with an appropriate briefing and an appropriately restructured Transport Department.

    Whilst we have a free-for-all service in which the devil takes the hindmost, the notion of public service transport is mere pie in the sky. At present we have commitments to a belief in anarchy in the transport field, which produces “answers” without any depth of explanation.

    The savings from a properly run transport system would far outweigh its costs in every sector of industry. To this we need to add the environmental savings, reduced costs associated with deaths and injuries. An expanded and up-to-date rail system is as necessary as food to a hungry man. No society worth its salt should have to endure the endless death and injury sustained by the present roads policy which privatisation and this mad rush for profit has provided us with. It is a sure sign of decadence.

    There are no drawbacks to the policy I advocate, only positives. It would provide a forward movement unparallel in history and provide an education about the use of standards which would be far reaching and well worth the enormous effort this entail in taking the people of this country forward in the 21st Century.

  8. Mavis from the North East said that I could post this. It is from an email she sent me.

    "I have been arguing for years the idea that my father used to promote.

    Public transport should be free - i.e. rail and bus (not planes). Just slap a quid on the income tax designated purely for transport.

    It would be chaotic for the first few weeks, but like working in a sweet factory after three days - you never want to eat another sweet.

    They want to widen a road up here and I keep on telling them - widen the A1 and within one month the traffic will have expanded to fill it.

    We have a metro system that does not serve the Team Valley Estate, which has the biggest concentration of workers in the North East going into and out of it - 10,000 each day twice a day Apart from lorries etc - how do they get there, cars, cars and buses. Where is the nearest railway line that could be used by the Metro with a little work and a station + spur line for half a mile - the old railway station that Beeching shut down and yes - the main line runs beside it so the track has been maintained - grrrrrrrrrrr - planners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Instead pay a fortune and extend to Sunderland and what happens they lose money hand and fist and now this Government wants to privatise the Metro.


  9. You probably cannot eliminate private transport in thinly populated areas, but in big cities like Sheffield and London I am convinced that most private car journeys are absolutely unnecessary. The economic argument is clear: the motorcar is an extremely inefficient way of using a scarce public resource i.e. urban road space. The environmental arguments about pollution have been well rehearsed in recent years. What has not really been given enough attention, in my view, is what we could call the SOCIO-CULTURAL argument, which is that the motorcar, together with all the infrastructure it requires, has come close to destroying our urban civilisation. This is not just a question of destroying communities in order to build urban motorways, it is also that a vicious circle is set up whereby the more society is organised around the assumption that everyone has a motorcar (e.g. building out-of-town facilities like supermarkets that you can only access if you have a car), the more that assumption turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy: town centre shops are driven out of business so in the end everyone has to have a car, and so on. So the whole question is intimately linked to questions of urban planning. Private car use also accentuates selfishness in society and diminishes community by enabling people to feel and behave as if nobody else exists.

  10. Peezedtee: In answering you on another issue at "threescoreyearsandten", I explained the reasons for my delay in responding. Whilst I disagreed with you in that discussion about the franchise, I am with you entirely on this one. But I am not too sure whether all of our discussion group would go as far as we do.