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Response of the Institute of Logistics and Transport Scottish Branch On the Establishment of the Forth Estuary Transportation Authority: Consultation on Draft Order.

1. The Institute of Logistics and Transport welcomes the establishment of a new Forth Estuary Transportation Authority. The proposals will assist in improving and sustaining the effective operation of the Forth Road Bridge but consideration should be given to further measures to those proposed, if full advantage is to be taken of the creation of the Authority, in ensuring that congestion is not to become an impediment to movement and travel across the Estuary.

2. Since there is not to be a second Forth Road crossing, every opportunity must be taken to ensure best value is derived from the existing facility. This requires close continuous liaison between the new Authority and representatives of bus and rail operators, freight hauliers and the trunk road authority with a sharing of responsibility for decisions taken and an overall acceptance of the implications of such decisions. In particular the involvement of all these bodies is essential in the development of changing policies making best use of the bridge and its associated infrastructure and in the development of related infrastructure elsewhere and the application of best operational practices.

3. The following comments enlarge on these points and highlight other aspects with reference to the numbered paragraphs in the consultation paper.

Policy Background
2. The critical nature of effective operation of the bridge applies not only to traffic movements but also to the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the Forth Estuary area and further afield.

3. The implications of a continuous growth in traffic in accordance with current trends are serious. Every effort must be made to encourage and to facilitate transfers from car use to bus and rail, transfer of freight from road to rail to the extent that this is practical, more car sharing and better use of the capacity inherent in the Bridge and its approaches.

4. We are surprised that the statistics indicate a relatively small proportion of heavy vehicles using the Bridge but even so the figure of 91.34% for cars, light vehicles etc. seems high.

5. The high single occupancy rate suggests considerable benefits would accrue from encouraging car sharing, and providing more attractive bus and rail alternatives to use of private cars. The former would be assisted by a differential pricing policy whereby single occupancy cars entering Edinburgh would pay more than multiple occupancy. There is scope for using the Inverkeithing P & R as a meeting point for this. To assist in encouraging more use of bus and rail, the new Authority should have a role in encouraging and perhaps funding car parking facilities where access could be gained to frequent bus and rail services. Existing rail park and ride locations could be expanded for this purpose, with better facilities and with specific destinations catered for such as Edinburgh Airport. Key points relating to services to the airport from Fife, are timing, cost and publicity. The trial service (now discontinued) was too infrequent and there was a lack of information available on pick-up points. Operators would initially find such a service uneconomic and experience has shown that running full size coaches is inappropriate. Consideration should therefore be given to using minibuses or similar until the service is established.

6. The broader remit is welcomed but further benefit would be derived from an obligation placed on the new Bridge Authority to work with other authorities and operators to obtain overall best value and use revenues "relating to the crossing" in the widest sense for maximum benefit.

7. Lack of provision of a second Forth Road crossing is only acceptable if widespread measures are taken to ensure serious congestion does not arise on the existing bridge. It is essential that the new Authority has a very broad remit, in conjunction with other parties as necessary, to facilitate all action which will achieve this. Full advantage must also be taken of the new Kincardine crossing. The A8000 link to the M9, M8, Edinburgh City Bypass and M90 must now be given a high priority since much of the benefit of relatively free flowing traffic on these roads is lost, owing to the severe congestion caused by this now inappropriate and narrow artery. The negative effect on business of the A8000 is self evident and the Scottish Executive must directly intervene to ensure a speedy resolution of this issue.

8. Agreed but with maximum involvement of the bodies as outlined.

The Transport (Scotland) Act 2001.
9. - - - - -

10. Difficulties with the Forth Crossing are greater than for the Tay but nevertheless the latter crossing would benefit from a more integrated approach rather than from the more restricted influence, which the Executive can currently bring to bear.

11. - - - - -

12. It is beneficial that the new body will become a "charging authority" for the purpose of collecting charges. It is to be hoped however that the extensive liaison and appeal procedures, which apply in general for charging authorities, can be streamlined to avoid extensive delays which might otherwise occur as new charges are proposed. Any increased delay over present arrangements to amend charges would be regrettable.

Membership of the Forth Estuary Transportation Authority.
13. In addition to local authority membership, the new Authority would also benefit from additional, perhaps non voting membership from the Scottish Executive and bodies representing bus, rail and freight movement interests. Without such direct involvement the best collective decisions on associated trunk roads, bus, rail and freight developments will be more difficult to achieve. The aim must be for greater integration.

14. The delay of 4 years between establishing the new body and its effective assumption of responsibilities could be frustrating bearing in mind the urgent need to improve bridge conditions and avoid worsening congestion.

Other issues.
15. The close interaction with trunk road development requires more direct Executive responsibilities with the new Authority as outlined in 13) above.

16. The 4 year period until 31 March 2006 seems unnecessarily long, see 14 above. A commitment that tolls will not rise until then could be a significant inhibition. However, any increase in toll levels should be as with other strategies on congestion charging - clearly demonstrate advantage to users via improvements in transport services, traffic free flow etc. Could provision be made for changes at an earlier date if agreed by both the existing Board and the new Authority?

The Draft Order.
Article 6. The widened remit and flexibility to be given to the new Authority is welcomed. A particular initiative, which deserves early investigation, is conversion of one or other, or both cycle/walkway lanes to a bus only lane. If only one was to be converted this could be on a reversible basis to cater for peak directional travel subject to satisfactory termination arrangements, or perhaps extension at either end of the bridge.

The legislative arrangements should permit the new Authority to have the powers of a local authority to enter into Bus Quality Partnerships with adjacent authorities and bus operators to assist in facilitating developments such as a bus only lane.

ILT Scotland, 5.12.01.

 

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