Emeritus Professor Phil Goodwin, who has been tasked by the Labour Party with drawing up a new overarching transport strategy, has set out ideas for tackling ‘a failure of the democratic process to achieve what is best in the long term for society, the economy or the environment’.
Following a request from Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, to carry out a study for a ‘New Social Contract for Transport’, Prof Goodwin has published an outline of the principles and scope of a future report intended to ‘inform the Labour Party in preparation for its manifesto for the next General Election’.
Summarising his approach, Prof Goodwin argues that while there is a widespread consensus on the need to switch from car-based to more sustainable forms of travel – and successful examples – practical action is not matching the urgency of environmental change, while being undermined by ‘pressures in the opposite direction’ and inadequate funding.
He writes: ‘We shall therefore consider which aspects of transport should be treated as a universal basic right, and how. This will involve the distribution of costs and benefits, including the suitability of a “polluter pays” principle, and how new technologies may make conditions better or worse.
‘Sources of funding will need to be widened, and then reallocated between the modes, investment, maintenance, operations, regulation, and priorities in enforcement.’
The paper sets out 10 questions under four headings: Evidence and Experience; Principles; Methods and technology; and Equity and Appraisal.
The first question asks: ‘What sources of funding, not already widely used in the UK, offer most potential to enable towns and cities to provide high quality transport services, and should therefore be the subject of further investigation?’
Other questions include seeking examples of political leadership to introduce measures that reduce car mileage, and what changes should be made in the allocation of transport spending to the main different categories.
The paper, which has a significant focus on issues of equality in transport as well as its environmental impact, also asks the question of whether there is a ‘universal basic right’ for people to be able to live decently without a car and, if so, ‘what might follow from that, in terms of action, standards and policies of national and local government?’
Prof Goodwin is seeking responses to the questions or other contributions by email before 31 July.
In the introduction to the report he writes: ‘The intention is to prepare a substantial draft report later this year, followed by a final report after discussion. The work will be carried out independently of the Labour Party, aiming at forming a broad consensus across party lines.
‘The intention is to propose a set of transport policies and spending which is sustainable, effective and fair, and suitable for a rapid, internally consistent, programme of implementation.’