What do transport campaigners want to see from the next government?  

Ahead of the General Election on 4 July, a large number of campaigning organisations, professional societies and industry groups have produced their own manifestos containing policy asks for the next government. Here we take a look at what transport campaigners and professionals – including a number of Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance (CSTA) member organisations – are calling for across a wide range of topics and transport modes. 

Asthma + Lung UK*: This is Life and Breath
Bus Users UK: Manifesto for Buses 2024
Campaign for Better Transport*: General Election Manifesto
Chartered Institute of Highways and Transport: A Transport Network Fit for our Futures 
ClientEarth: ClientEarth UK Manifesto
Community Transport Association: A Better Future for Transport 
Confederation of Passenger Transport: Access All Areas
Confederation of Passenger Transport: Driving Britain Forward
Cycling UK*: Freedom to Move: A Manifesto for Cycling 
Eastern Powerhouse: Manifesto for the East 
Friends of the Earth**: Friends of the Earth’s Demands for the General Election
Global Action Plan: Open Letter
Living Streets**: Elections 2024
Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety: Manifesto for Road Safety 2024
RailFuture: Rail Action Plan
RailFuture East Anglia*: A Rail Manifesto for the Next Parliament
Rail Partners: Our Vision for Rail
Sustrans*: Five Steps to Improve our Neighbourhoods, Health and the Economy
Transport Planning Society: The Transport Planning Society’s General Election Manifesto
UK Health Alliance on Climate Change: Our Manifesto for the UK General Election
*denotes a CSTA member organisation
** the Cambridge branches of Friends of the Earth and Living Streets are CSTA member organisations

Transport Choices

Central to the majority of the manifestos are strong calls for policies that give people more choice over how they travel to reduce dependence on cars, cut carbon emissions and improve air quality. The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT), for example, says the next government has a responsibility to “ensure the transport sector decarbonises in line with legally binding obligations“, and asks that the next government ensures everyone can travel sustainably, saying “a highly car-dependent society creates well-recognised negative impacts.” Cycling UK calls on MPs to “provide better transport choices to reduce traffic“, stating “some people will have to or still want to drive, but the government must do more to make it easy and enjoyable for the majority to get around by walking, wheeling or cycling, and for public and shared transport to be more accessible.” Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) would like “all communities over 30,000 people have access to a railway station with a regular service” as well as there to be more support for light rail.

A number of groups are calling for a national transport strategy for England as a means to improve sustainable transport provision. The Transport Planning Society (TPS)’s first ask in its manifesto is to “introduce a National Transport Strategy for England” to replace the current piecemeal approach. Sustrans says “for many years, England has lacked a national transport strategy. This means transport fails to contribute in a coherent way to tackling the big societal challenges facing the UK: the economy, climate change, the cost-of-living crisis, health and levelling up.” 

Funding

Most groups are also calling for the level of sustainable transport funding to increase and the way in which it is allocated to change. CIHT cautions that “alternative funding sources, new revenue streams, taxation and incentives” need to be explored for transport to be funded fairly in the future. 

Both Living Streets and Cycling UK would like to see investment in active travel to be 10% of the transport budget within 5 years. While not specifying the level of funding required, CBT would like all local transport authorities to have sufficient funding to deliver bus services that are economically and socially necessary. 

Several organisations request a change to the current system where local authorities have to compete amongst themselves for short-term funding. Cycling UK’s first manifesto ask is to “Deliver long term investment in cycling, walking and wheeling.” CBT wants the next government to “End short-term competitive funding pots in favour of longer term, multi-modal funding settlements for all local transport authorities. The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) says “a lack of clarity over the existence and size of future funding streams [for buses] undermines confidence and prevents operators and councils from investing in longer-term service development.” It would like to see a five-year spending plan for buses announced in advance, as happens for rail. 

Buses

CBT, CPT and Bus Users UK all think there should be a legal obligation for local authorities to provide a minimum level of bus services: “the next government should legislate for minimum levels of bus service provision for all communities and make providing socially and economically necessary services a statutory requirement” (CBT). CBT would also like to see the powers to implement bus franchising to be extended to all local transport authorities.

Bus Users UK makes the point that “to encourage modal shift, bus services need to be reliable, affordable and attractive”; the group is therefore calling for more bus priority measures. On a similar theme, CPT says “the average bus now travels at just 10.7 miles per hour, and much more slowly in congested urban areas”. It says “The next government should set and monitor a target for all local transport authorities to increase bus speeds by 10% over the lifetime of the next parliament”.  

Walking, wheeling and cycling

Living Streets’ 2024 election campaign focuses entirely on ensuring that at least 60% of children should be able to walk to school. The organisation says that adopting this target will benefit everyone, because “when we design streets for children, we create places that work better for everyone.”  

The first recommended step for the next government in Sustrans’ manifesto is to make our streets safe for childrenby keeping pavements free of cars, developing safe routes to every school and doubling the length of traffic-free and quiet road cycle routes. Cycling UK is also calling for improved safety, though speed reduction measures on both urban and rural roads. 

In addition, Living Streets and TPS want to see local authorities empowered, funded and resourced so they are better placed to “take decisions that create safe, inclusive streets” (Living Streets) in their areas.

Roads, driving and demand management

Friends of the Earth, TPS and CBT all request a review of road building schemes, as has been carried out in Wales. CBT says the next government should “commit to only build new roads if stringent emission reduction and sustainable transport provision criteria are met” and would like a proportion of the road investment budget to be reallocated to buses. Sustrans points out that “More than half (56%) of people support shifting investment from road building to supporting walking and wheeling, cycling and public transport” and considers that the roads budget should prioritise road maintenance

Despite being published when the ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles was still scheduled for 2030, ClientEarth’s manifesto talks about “stepping up the phaseout of internal combustion engines“, highlighting that tailpipe emissions from road transport were responsible for almost 22% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. TPS also wants a sustainable switch to low-emission vehicles to be encouraged, and CBT and CIHT’s manifestos talk about the need to recoup income lost from fuel duty in the transition to electric vehicles. 

Some groups would like to see increases in sustainable transport choices coupled with measures to make driving less attractive. TPS says “In order to decarbonise at a meaningful pace and reduce congestion, we need to be honest about the need to reduce the overall volume of car travel” , and TPS, Cycling UK and Friends of the Earth would like to see the next government adopt traffic reduction targets. Measures mentioned across the manifestos to manage demand for driving include increasing fuel duty to increase the cost of driving (CBT), road user charging schemes, parking controls and Workplace Parking Levies (TPS) and “pay-per-mile schemes to help reduce congestion and meet environmental targets.” (CIHT)

Rail

Manifestos by Railfuture, RailPartners and CBT address issues such as the need to attract back passengers to rail restore lost revenue, HS2, electrification, increased freight capacity and the need for reforms to fares and ticketing. Railfuture East Anglia, CBT and Eastern Powerhouse also view the delivery of two local schemes – East West rail and the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement programme – as critical.

Cost of transport

Given the ongoing cost of living crisis, it’s perhaps surprising transport affordability isn’t given more focus in the manifestos. Sustrans, however, calls for more financial support so that people on low incomes or who are not in work can get a cycle, and CPS requests measures to keep bus fares low when the national fares cap ends later this year.  

Road safety

Turning to road safety, Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) underlines that progress in reducing road traffic deaths and serious injuries in the UK has stalled, To address this, PACTS would like the next government to develop a new national road safety strategy that uses a safe system approach, as well as stopping those who have just passed their test from driving in the riskiest situations (e.g. at night) and adopting more stringent vehicle safety regulations. Cycling UK calls on our next government to “fix our failing road traffic laws” by commissioning a review within the first 12 months of government and CIHT wants a reintroduction of national and local road safety targets

Air pollution

On pollution, ClientEarth, Asthma + Lung UK, and Global Action Plan (GAP) are all calling for bolder clean air legislation, with GAP calling for there to be a legal right to breathe clean air. ClientEarth and GAP would like the next government to bring forward to 2030 its existing target to reduce pollution by 2040, then commit to reaching WHO guideline levels as soon as possible. Though they are not transport organisations, Asthma + Lung UK, and GAP are both seeking better funding for sustainable transport as part of efforts to improve air quality. GAP argues that the next generation of MPs should “adopt the current government’s target that half of journeys in towns and cities in England should be walked or cycled by 2030” to improve air quality.   

Growth and new developments

Manifestos by Cycling UK, Sustrans, CBT and CIHT all contain policy asks around the need for new developments to be built to avoid the need to travel by private motor vehicle and designed around sustainable transport networks. In addition, CBT calls for bus operators of local routes to be statutory consultees for new housing developments.   

How could these policies help Cambridgeshire?

Cambridgeshire Sustainable Travel Alliance recently published its ambitions for journeys in the Cambridge area, together with details of ten campaigning areas. Many of the policies transport campaigners and professionals want to see align with our areas of focus, notably the need for more choice over how to make a journey, more funding for sustainable transport delivered in a different way, and better buses under local control. If enacted, policies in these areas would start to make sustainable travel easier and more affordable and help to create a local transport system that is fit for the future.