Reaction to the Chancellor's Budget - Campaign for Better Transport
17 March 2016 | Author: Stephen Joseph OBE, Executive Director, Campaign for Better Transport
The most important transport announcement in the Budget was arguably what the Chancellor chose not to do - raise fuel tax. In so doing, he failed to make the cost of driving more representative of the costs in imposes, or to tackle the air pollution which kills tens of thousands each year.
He further hampered local authority's ability to do things like mend potholes and support buses by cutting a significant source of their revenue - business rates. And he again promised large sums for big new roads like the £75m that will go to developing the idea of a trans-Pennine tunnel, which would swallow huge sums of money and in return probably just add to congestion.
Among the gloom, there was also some good news in the form of investment in HS3 to improve rail links between cities in northern England. In addition, the Government offered action to support more housing development around rail stations, which could be high beneficial in encouraging more sustainable travel habits.
Budget day also saw Nicola Shaw's review of Network Rail published. In it, she makes clear the Government should resist calls to break up or privatise Network Rail and instead strengthen the voice of passengers, encourage investment and help the railways grow. These are recommendations we will ardently encourage the Department for Transport to adopt.
Shaw is also clear on the need for longer term planning and greater devolution to make the railways more responsive to the communities they serve. Here her conclusions chime closely with other devolution in transport planning announced by the Chancellor which really does have the potential to transform how we think about and fund public transport. These encouraging signs aside, the overall feeling is that we may be paying for the Chancellor's transport announcements for years to come.