Policy Institute Unveils Radical Vision For Scottish Transport

31 Oct 2005

Increased competition and a direct return on private sector investment are vital if government is to deliver significant improvements in transport services and infrastructure, according to the latest research paper from the Policy Institute.

In “Out Of The Sidings: How To Get Better Investment And Management In Transport,” author Adam Bruce sets out a radical vision for Scotland’s road and rail network and urges MSPs to make the most of their new transport powers.

THE KEY POINTS

Rail

- Implement Land Value Capture to harness the increase in property values caused by railways to fund them. Businesses or residents along the route who pay a levy, would have a say in, as well as reward from, the successful management of the project. Such a scheme could fund a “bullet train” between Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as the Glasgow Crossrail and a new service between the Cyde financial district and Edinburgh Park.

- Enhance competition, and customer service, by encouraging different operators to compete on the same track.

Roads

- “Establish competing private franchises to operate trunk roads financed by tolls. Such schemes could reduce motoring taxes and relieve congestion. For example, the operator of the M9/A80 route between Edinburgh and Glasgow could cmpete with the M8 franchise, offering special discounts for road haulage operators. In the Highlands, the operators of the A82 and A87 could offer discounts to caravans travelling at off-peak times, and encourages more general road tourism by providing special leisure passes.

- Local Amenity Companies could be established to run and maintain local roads. Owned by residents, these could charge tolls, pay dividends to local people and compete to attract through traffic, new residents and new businesses.

- Local Amenity Companies could in time be extended across Scotland, and could make decisions on rail infrastructure, trunk roads and other planning development. Smaller and more responsive than local authorities, they would have a balance of commercial and environmental incentives to enhance the amenity of their area as measured by property values and income from development. This could have major economic, environmental and democratic benefits.

THE NEXT STEPS

- The National Transport Agency could invite bids for its top 10 projects based on the basis of economic return, including tolls and ring-fenced land value capture.

- Establish three competing franchises to run Scotland’s trunk routes.

Adam Bruce said: “Government lacks information to judge the viability of transport investment and is prone to political delays. State management leads to high costs and low innovation. Instead, government should encourage private investors by allowing them to reap a return, while promoting competition to benefit passengers and motorists.”

“Investors in transport should be able to realise a direct return, allowing private funds to flow where there was economic demand, and lowering the overall costs of transport investment. And competition should be encouraged, to ensure innovation, higher standards and lower costs for users.”