04 May 2010

UK elections: How about transport then?

I am not driven by transport policy in voting in the UK, because it isn’t that important. Good job, given how absolutely devoid of reason all three main parties their transport policies are.


Labour has announced it wants to spend money, that it doesn’t have, on a high speed rail network. A network that will have a HIGHER environmental impact that the existing rail network, that will mostly attract users from existing rail services, and which would only affect domestic flights if built to Scotland for tens of billions of pounds. Note domestic flights are completely unsubsidised. This new cargo cult will mostly benefit business travellers, to an enormous cost to taxpayers. The Liberal Democrats and Tories say ME TOO! So unsurprisingly, it is easy to be cynical of politicians seeking totems for themselves. By the way, the Channel Tunnel was built, operated (and went bankrupt) with no taxpayer funding.

Labour also promises to spend more money it doesn’t have on upgrading railways, whilst maintaining a meagre programme for road expansion while it collects four times the revenue from road users as it spends on roads. The only bright side is support for a third runway at Heathrow airport, but a ban on any other airport runways being built.

Liberal Democrats are worse, with a religious opposition to road improvements, and a fetish for reopening rail lines paid for by money that doesn’t exist. The Liberal Democrats oppose airport expansion and want road pricing (which is economically rational, but not to pay for roads!). The Conservatives oppose airport expansion as well, and don’t want road pricing, except for foreign lorries. Disappointing given how the Conservatives once privatised rail (not particularly well), aviation, buses and road freight (yes the government ran a trucking company!).

So basically, don’t bother, nothing to see here. Not the slightest chance of embracing economically rational policies, so that transport users meet the costs of what they use, and for the state owned or managed infrastructure to be run to maximise efficiency. No, just continued socialism rubbing up against capitalism, with a strong taint of environmental theology.

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