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Begg urges tougher action on drivers to safeguard transport plan


GOVERNMENT EFFORTS to boost public transport in cities could be undermined by its failure to promote congestion charging schemes, its key transport advisor warned this week.

Chairman of the Commission for Integrated Transport Professor David Begg said the government should take a bolder approach to the introduction of motoway tolls.

Begg is in charge of a review of the government's £180bn 10 year transport plan, published a year ago this week. The review is expected to be complete in October.

Begg fears the government is failing to ensure that local authorities will be able to raise £2.7bn from 20 schemes to charge people driving into towns and cities, as assumed in the plan. This money will be a vital part of government efforts to fund public transport improvements.

'Meeting the congestion charging targets will depend on the government being more proactive and it must consider introducing charges for driving on the trunk road network, ' he said.

Begg's review will also focus on the proposed £34bn private investment in the rail network that rail experts claim is now unrealistic. He is expected to suggest that more private funding will be needed.

He added that he may back the introduction of higher motoring costs to make public transport projects more attractive than public spending on roads.

Begg is also reported to be reviewing government predictions that congestion will fall by 5% over the 10 years covered by the plan.

Begg's comments came in the week that employers' body the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) criticised the government for its slow progress on implementing the plan.

CBI chief executive Digby Jones demanded 'more detail' on how the 10 year plan will be implemented. 'A lot that could have been done hasn't been in the last year, ' he said.

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