From Transport Economics to Transport Policies

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-From a simplistic standpoint the objective of transport policy should be to ensure that there is the best or most efficient allocation of resources in the transport sector. This is very difficult to achieve due to the nature of the transport function.

-The UK does not have a single comprehensive transport policy that covers all modes of transport, passenger and freight included. We have a range of transport policies that from time to time are co-ordinated by govts into an all embracing set of policy statements, most recent of which is the 'Future of Transport' (2004) 

-The approach of the various conservative govts from 1979-1997 was to use market forces to improve the allocation of resources by releasing the restraint of public sector organisation and control. Deregulation and privatisation were the means by which this was achieved. The means were to:

increase competition in the provision of bus, rail, air and road freight services.

establish new structures that would maintain the public interest in this important sector of the economy.

ensure better 'value for money' for public sector expenditure and at the same times, direct public sector investment to where it was most needed.

::Transport policy in this period could not be divorced from the wider political ideology of reducing the role of the government in the affairs of the economy.

The strategic objective of transport policy at the end of this period was stated as being one of providing 'an efficient and competitive transport market to serve the interests of the economy and community, with maximum emphasis on safety and the environment.' Despite its generality the aim was predominantly economic.

It also provided clear signals that the price mechanism was being used to not only allocate resources but also to make clear to both providers and consumers the true cost of providing transport services.

-Despite what may have been said in opposition, the incoming Labour govt of 1997 was limited in what it could do to the structure of transport provision. The conservative legislation had made it impossible for the privatisation process to be reversed. Labours transport policy has continued the theme of promoting greater efficiency in the use of scarce resources, for road and rail especially, while emphasising the need for the transport policy to:

promote environmental objectives, particularly with respect to meeting obligations to the Kyoto protocol.

reduce social exclusion as a consequence of poor transport provision by improving the accessibility of all groups to transport services.

ensure that there is real choice for users of passenger and freight transport services.

 enchance the vitality of town and city centres, while meeting the needs of those living in rural areas.

promote a greater awareness of transport issues through society.


-Co-ordination has for a long time been an objective of transport policy. For many years successive govts saught to achieve this through creating competitive conditions whereby co-ordination would occur through the natural workings of the market mechanism.






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