Our pledge is to provide Britain with a fully integrated public transport system fit for the 21st century. The British people have suffered poor public transport for too long. This damages not only people’s quality of life, it damages our economy too. The Labour government is heading vaguely in the right direction, but it shows no sign of embracing the need for a fully integrated system which provides a convenient link between airports, train stations, bus routes, light rail links, and pedestrian routes. Because the previous governments are obsessed with privatisation of public transport, there is too much fragmentation. We will restore common sense to public transport by establishing a unified and co-ordinated system across the country.
Public transport in London is long overdue for a complete overhaul. We will reverse the Public Private Partnership for the tube, and bring it back into full public ownership and control. We will consolidate ownership of the overground trains running across London, and increase their frequency at peak times. We will introduce a fleet of new smaller ‘hopper’ buses run by electric battery, which will run every five minutes along multiple routes throughout London, to provide a real alternative to using a car in London. And we will improve safety on London’s public transport with a visible Transport Police presence, particularly at night.
Selling our National Rail system was one of the most devastating blows to the public. Transport has got worse since privatisation. Even though it was sold at a knock down price, the only winners were the business community who have not made the investment expected to overhaul the system.
Rural transport has been neglected for too long. Whole communities are becoming isolated. We will revive rural train stations and track. And we will roll out the electric ‘hopper’ buses to all rural communities.
Roads will be maintained and expanded only on the grounds of safety. Otherwise, spending on roads will be cut, to divert valuable resources into public transport. The private car is the most dangerous form of transport, and the most damaging to the environment. We will encourage the commercial development of green cars such as electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and cars that run on cleaner fuels.
Pedestrian access will be enhanced. We will encourage walking as a form of transport – it has health benefits and it is environmentally friendly. Pedestrians will be given greater priority over road users, with more pedestrian crossings, and stricter speed limits for cars in built up areas. We will develop a network of pedestrian walkways over major roads, and along river banks such as the Thames in London, so that walking becomes a pleasant, safe and viable form of local transport.
Air travel continues to grow in popularity. Our skies around London are becoming dangerously congested. We propose two new airports to rival Heathrow, one in Wales and one in Scotland, away from urban areas, but well connected by new train links. This will take pressure away from London, regenerate the Scottish and Welsh economies, and provide ample capacity for decades to come. Replacing the air traffic control system will be placed top of the agenda.
Funding public transport is a massive undertaking. We need to find ways of increasing funding above and beyond the Labour government’s £180bn 10 year plan launched in July 2000. We do not believe that PPP and other forms of privatisation are appropriate or cost effective for something as important as our national transport system. We will investigate a national rollout of congestion charging, and motorway tolls. We will increase fines for road traffic offences and plough the revenue into public transport. And where necessary we will borrow to cover any shortfall. Our fully integrated transport system will be safe, reliable, regular, and in abundant supply – and it will reap dividends for our economy and our society.