Transport is what physically connects us to the wider area and the rest of the world. Poor and inefficient transport impacts on our time, our energy consumption, our environment, our health, our money, our nerves and our capacity. Transport is the lifeline that brings us food and essential (and inessential) goods; and the lifeline that allows us to respond quickly to emergencies half a world away. Good transport is essential to help us function effectively as individuals and as a nation.
We will keep the older person’s bus pass because we think that it has both transport and social benefits. It benefits transport by acting as a nudge factor for older people to use their cars less or not at all. It has social benefits by enabling people to get out of the house, visit friends and family, take part in social activities and make essential journeys to, for instance, medical appointments. We will ensure that it is adequately funded.
As a government, we will support moves to promote and privilege cycling and public transport for local journeys, but to be honest, this is best done by local councils – we will just make sure that they have adequate legislative and regulatory tools to get on with the job.
As a party we reject the orthodoxy that improvements in transport are basically about more and better links between London and everywhere else, because London is the centre of the universe. It isn’t.
We will develop transport links within and between regions and adopt an approach based on integrated solutions. We will promote light railways and tram systems as an alternative to buses.
Rather than continue to subsidise private companies, we will bring the railways back into public ownership as current franchise agreements run out. We will renew and, where necessary, increase railway rolling stock. We will promote the development of businesses and conference centres close to or integral with railways stations.
We will build a motorway between Oxford and Cambridge. This will create a link between two important centres of learning and scientific and technical innovation and act as a catalyst for new housing along the transport corridor*. In the long term, we will build a motorway from Rugby to Cambridge, improving links to Birmingham and the Midlands and gradually extend the motorway network to Norwich and Lowestoft.
*I pinched the housing bit from the Liberal Democrat manifesto – they want to build a railway, but a motorway’s probably quicker and cheaper – especially for impoverished academics. Perhaps we should also build a cycle lane?