Transport priorities for a new government 31 May 2017

Not for the first time in election history the party manifestos could be described as transport light.

While there is plenty of mention of Brexit, national security, the health service, the state of the economy and the outlook for jobs, the mobility, movement - call it what you like - of UK citizens is notable by its absence, even though travel of some form or another is at the heart of practically everything we do.

That is not to say transport is completely absent:

  • Labour is making a stand on road safety, promising to reintroduce casualty-reduction targets and “ambitiously strive for a transport network with zero deaths.”
  • The Liberal Democrats focus is on tackling the detrimental health impacts of poor air quality from road transport through introducing a Green Transport Act with a statutory diesel scrappage scheme.
  • Conservatives highlight the importance of low-emission vehicles, the development of autonomous vehicles, and in addition commit to tackling rogue parking companies and sustaining investment in our major roads.
  • UKIP backs the take-up of electric vehicles as the way to clean up the vehicle fleet but expressly rules out more restrictions on the use of diesel cars, saying it “will prevent diesel drivers from being penalised through higher taxes, parking fees, or emissions’ zone charging.”
  • The Green Party wants to make it "easy to choose to leave the car at home" and will invest in public transport and cycling.


If the RAC Foundation had the job of writing the Day One briefs that new ministers will receive at the Department of Transport it would include at least six things:

First, we’d set out some basic data showing the importance of roads and motoring for the health of the economy – of the people going to work each weekday some two-thirds will be travelling by car. The cost of travel is a big issue for many households, and the Chancellor could help by maintaining the freeze on fuel duty and thinking again about the hike in motor insurance tax.

Second, we’d reference the previous government’s pledge, made back in 2015, to ring-fence VED income for the roads investment, which was welcome, but which we’d argue should be made into a binding statutory scheme. All too often in the past we’ve seen commitments to ambitious investment programmes disappear as other deserving causes steal their place in the queue for Treasury funding.

Third, we’d argue the case for funding certainty to be extended beyond our motorways and major A roads. What price a concerted attempt to improve the potholed routes managed by cash-strapped local authorities, after-all these are the roads – the ones outside our homes - on which all our journeys begin and end?

Fourth, we’d be setting out the road safety statistics – it’s true that our record on road safety is amongst the best in the world, but that still means we’re killing five people each and every day. Isn’t it time we had a road accident investigation branch that brought the same rigour to learning the lessons of road crashes that we apply to the aviation, rail and maritime sectors?

Fifth, we’d advocate concerted action to promote the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles. Anyone contemplating a plug-in hybrid car could easily be put off by the plethora of different charging contracts and contraptions they currently face.

And sixth, having funded a decent standard of road, made the journey safer and tackled harmful emissions, we’d turn our attention to parking, by suggesting a tightening of the rules on release of DVLA’s keeper details to promote better practice amongst parking contractors.

Any Government that works to support safe, sustainable motoring will be helping to achieve all those other good things voters want – a stronger economy, less burden on the health service, and better access to goods and services, education and employment.



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN)

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.

The RAC Foundation is a registered charity, number 1002705. 

All the Foundation’s work is available on its website: