Corbyn vs May: Transport Policy

Credit: Matt Buck

How Could the Future of British Public Transport be Changed Post-Election?

With all the uproar following the Brexit referendum nearly a year ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that the UK’s divorce from the EU was the only political issue of any significance at the moment. Whilst it is undeniably the most important given that the knock-on effects will be felt for decades to come, we can’t afford to not properly scrutinise the other policies of those seeing to represent us. For your convenience, here’s what the 2 main parties in the country are proposing related to public transport.

Conservatives

With their manifesto fresh off of the press, now is a fine time to take a look at what the Conservatives are proposing to do with transport. On pages 23-24 is where the specific information can be found, spearheaded by a pledge to invest £40 billion into the nation’s transport over the next decade.

Breaking this down further, the manifesto in particular targets an increase in capacity on the railways, and looks ‘for Britain to lead the world in electric vehicle technology and use’. The first of these places a lot of emphasis on the continued development of major projects such as High Speed 2, the expansion of Heathrow, and Crossrail. The latter of these in particular typifies this approach to get commuters onto public transport in place of driving, as once completed it will provide around 1.5 million passengers with access to Central London in just 45 minutes.

As for how the sitting Government intends to shift the transport network to one dominated by electric vehicles, that could prove trickier. It appears that the first step on this plan is to firstly provide incentives to vehicle owners to make the switch using an earmarked fund of £600 million. In regards to public transport as well, the Conservatives will invest specifically in low-emission buses as part of a wider scheme to invest particularly in rural areas that currently are lacking in good transport links. The Government has often been criticised for seemingly over-investing in London and its surrounding areas from a transportation perspective, so this could very well be a move to finally put such criticism to bed.

Labour

The UK’s main opposition have also after a leaked draft of their latest manifesto released their ideas for running the country, and it is without question a bold vision should they take power in June. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has long been an advocate for major reforms to the UK’s transport network, supporting the re-nationalisation of train and bus companies which have been privatised under Conservative rule.

Therefore it comes as no surprise in the Labour manifesto that they have announced their intention to pass a law through Parliament that would repeal the existing law from 1993 that privatised the railways in particular in the first place. Accusing the existing system of being an ‘abject failure’ in regards to ‘deregulation, privatisation and fragmentation’, Labour’s state-owned system would provide an alternative that prioritises quality and user safety over shareholder profit.

Labour is similar to the Conservatives though in the sense that they would guarantee funding for projects such as the HS2 high-speed rail between London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester before heading into Scotland. In fact they would expand its reach even further, connecting it with the ‘Crossrail of the North’ which in turn links the northern cities of Manchester and Liverpool amongst others.

Like the Conservatives as well, Labour makes mention of investing in low-carbon technology and other pro-environmental programmes to cut down on vehicle emissions. Interestingly enough it would appear that they would amend the existing amount of tax paid by vehicle users on diesel fuel so as to encourage ‘the development, manufacture and use of ultra low emission vehicles’. Whatever their differences, both parties seem to have chosen this policy to be part of their platform, so expect to see a lot more electric cars whizzing around in the near-future.