Transport is essential to our modern lives. We need a modal shift from polluting cars to public transport. We must spend 10 per cent of the nation’s transport budget on walking and cycling. Ticketing must be simpler and prices lower. People in rural and coastal areas will have access to well-funded transport. A Clean Air Act and new watchdog will ensure the air in our towns and cities is clean. Bus services will be expanded. The rail network will be upgraded and decarbonised. High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East West Rail and Crossrail 2 will be supported. Expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will be opposed. Frequent flyers will pay heavier duties.
The Lib Dems will give a higher priority for walking and cycling. Spending will increase five-fold to 10 per cent of the transport budget. A nationwide strategy will promote walking and cycling, including building dedicated safe cycling lanes. Invest in commuter routes and integration of rail, bus and cycle routes.
Local authorities and communities will have new powers to introduce network wide ticketing. Planning rules will be changed to promote sustainable transport. People in rural and coastal areas should be able to work and live locally and have access to a well-funded and integrated transport network.
The Local Sustainable Transport Fund will be expanded to reduce the number of cars, particularly single occupancy cars used for commuting. It will encourage car-sharing schemes, car clubs and autonomous vehicles for public use. VAT on electric vehicles will be cut to 5 per cent and the rate of installation of charging points increased.
A Clean Air Act will establish a right to clean air everywhere and will be enforced by an Air Quality Agency. Ten more towns and cities will introduce ultra-low emission zones. The transition to ultra-low emission transport will be accelerated. A £2 billion fund will ensure all taxis and new buses operating in urban areas are ultra-low emission or zero emission by 2025. All new cars must be electric by 2030.
Over five years, £4.5 billion will be invested to restore bus routes and add new routes. Rural bus services will get support. Where conventional bus services are not viable, the Lib Dems will help find alternatives. Local authorities will be encouraged to use powers under the Bus Services Act, including franchising powers. The rule preventing local councils from running their own bus companies will be repealed.
The Lib Dems will freeze fares for commuters and season ticket holders for five years and other tickets will be better value for money. The rail network will be extended, stations improved, smaller stations reopened and twin-track lines restore on major routes. The rail network will be converted to ultra-low emission electric or hydrogen technology by 2035. Railways will be electrified, with lines from major ports a priority. More freight will be shifted from road to rail, encouraged by higher taxes for HGVs with high emissions. Light rail schemes for trams and tram-trains will be funded.
High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East West Rail and Crossrail 2 will get support. The Lib Dems will ensure HS2 “opens as early as possible to meet our decarbonisation goals while minimising the destruction of precious UK habitats and woodland.”
A new Railways Agency will oversee day-to-day operations of the railway network in place of the Department for Transport. Public sector companies, local authorities, not-for-profits and mutuals have the potential to deliver much better services than private operators and will be allowed to bid for franchises. New franchise agreements will have a stronger focus on customers, including investment in new stations, lines and trains. The Lib Dems will take more proactive approach to operators that fail to provide a high quality service.
A moratorium will be imposed on increasing the number of runways in the UK. The Lib Dems oppose expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted and development of a Thames Estuary airport. New technologies will be accelerated, including zero carbon blends for fuels. Demand for flying will be cut, including imposing higher levies on frequent flyers. Passengers who take just one or two international flights a year will see a cut in levies.