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MPs rail against transport ministry

Five out of seven transport targets missed

The Department for Transport (DfT) is failing to meet most of its targets, including its aims for congestion and air quality, a report from MPs said today.

Targets for public transport use and carbon dioxide emissions are also being missed, the report from the House of Commons Transport Committee added.

The committee said that of seven targets, the DfT was only meeting two – those for road safety and rail punctuality despite spending £13.5 billion in 2005-06.

Describing the DfT’s performance as poor, the MPs said the department needed to take bold measures to deliver a ‘step change’ in the public’s experience of the transport system.

The committee said:

  • It was ‘dismayed’ at the DfT’s lack of success in improving local air quality
  • The department appeared to have ‘given up’ in the short term on trying to improve bus services
  • The performance of Tube private maintenance company Metronet was ‘cause for serious concern’
  • The rail franchising system was ‘wasteful and muddled’
  • Road pricing demonstration projects on the most congested sections of the strategic road network should be considered
  • The introduction of nationwide concessionary bus fare schemes had not been smooth.

‘Terrible picture of failure’

Gwyneth Dunwoody MP said: ‘This is a terrible picture of failure. The department’s only successes are against road safety and rail punctuality targets. And I imagine that most rail users would be surprised to hear their experiences described as the pinnacle of the department’s annual achievements, while success against the road casualty targets is subdued by the daily toll of death and injury.’

She went on: ‘The department has not presented any evidence to convince us that the next five years will bring a radical change in performance. The DfT lacks a clear strategy of what it wants to achieve. Without this vision, it also lacks a timetable of policies which are necessary to bring improvements.’

She said road pricing would not solve all the problems of the road network, and other measures, including better and affordable public transport had to be taken forward.

Department for Transport ‘disagrees’

A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘While the department does not agree with the characterisation of its work. We are investing record amounts in transport, but we fully acknowledge there is much still to do. We will respond more fully to the Committee on the detail of the report in due course.’

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