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RAC warns of looming transport crisis

A hidden transport crisis is looming if the new Government buries its head in the sand and fails to develop and fund a national transport strategy, according to the RAC Foundation.

The foundation today claims the economy and inhabitants of the country will be damaged if transport is not given much higher priority by the party taking power. Congestion is currently costing transport users and operators at least £15 billion a year and could double in the next decade if nothing is done.

The need for improvement to transport is so fundamental that the Foundation has appealed for party politics to be shelved and cross-party agreement sought on the central issues.

In spite of its vital importance to the wealth and vitality of the country, and the fact that transport affects most voters every day, it has barely shown up on the pre-election campaign radar, says the foundation.

In response it is launching its own ‘agenda for action’ today urging that transport planning and policy making are not ignored and highlighting the issues most in need of immediate action. The foundation’s Transport Agenda calls for:

  • urgent improvements to the provision and operation of the UK’s roads network
  • Government should improve the management and performance of the road network as a matter of urgency
  • an independent Roads Regulator should be established to oversee the operation of roads
  • disruption and delay should be reduced
  • new road capacity should be examined. All main motorways and key trunk roads should be widened
  • environmental impacts of road improvements should be reduced by more tunnels and bypasses
  • the condition of much of the local road network must be addressed
  • a comprehensive national road user charging scheme should be introduced - but only when technically feasible and acceptable to the motorist
  • an appropriate National Strategic Road Network should be created.

    Sue Nicholson, RAC Foundation’s head of campaigns, said: "Transport investment as a proportion of GDP in the UK is among the lowest for developed countries. The UK collects more than four times as much revenue from road users as it spends on all forms of transport and about seven times the amount it spends purely on roads.

    "We claim to be the world’s fourth largest economy yet we have a transport system that sometimes resembles something from the third world. The USA actually spends more on transport than it receives in revenues.

    "The Government must recognise the key role of its transport system and take major steps to address it. It should ensure that expenditure on the road infrastructure is more closely related to tax taken from the motorist. The motorist will not accept higher levels of taxation without more being spent on transportation."

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