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.
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.
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.