Independent Transport Commission

Transport Commission report published

Reading’s Independent Transport Commission has now published its final report. The report is available at the bottom of this page, along with an Executive summary.

A presentation on the report was given at an open public meeting on Tuesday 1 July 2008, by the Chair, Sir Brian Briscoe, and Commissioners Prof Tony Travers and Dr Maggie Smales.

Key recommendations

A Third Thames crossing, more investment in public transport and a road pricing study by Reading and its neighbouring councils are the key recommendations of the Independent Transport Commission’s report.

The report follows a six month study of evidence from the people of Reading and ten Public Hearings. The Commission (Sir Brian Briscoe, Professor Tony Travers and Dr Maggie Smales) was invited by Reading Borough Council to take an independent look at transport and congestion issues following the controversy over the proposal for a One- Way IDR.

The Commission recommended on 1 July 2008 that the One-Way IDR scheme be formally abandoned.

The report’s 16 recommendations include greater attention to pedestrian and cycling facilities, new park and ride sites in neighbouring council areas to serve Reading centre, and a programme to improve bus services’ frequency and reliability, and improved ticketing options to encourage bus use.

But the Commission concludes that there is a real danger that even with those improvements, both the economy and environment in Reading will suffer if there is not greater capacity for north-south movements, and more effective management of road space in peak hours.

A new Thames Crossing was supported by a large majority of those consulted, though the Commission recommends that tolling of the new and existing bridges be considered to ensure that extra traffic is not attracted through North Reading and Oxfordshire.

The Commission proposes that Reading, with its neighbouring Councils, examines the case for road pricing - charging for the use of certain parts of the road system at particularly congested times. The London congestion charge is not the model for Reading and the report envisages the use of resident, shopper and other discounts or exemptions to ensure that charging focuses on those using Reading roads as part of the national network, and only at peak times. The Commission is clear that investment in public transport, park and ride and other improvements should be in place before the introduction of charges and believes the Councils in the area should be able to look to Central Government to provide funding for this.

Report by Ipsos MORI & Expert Opinion

The Commission tested its early thinking with a group of residents selected by polling organisation Ipsos MORI. A Report on the outcome of the in-depth discussions was also published on 1 July 2008. A copy of this report is available below, and its Executive Summary.

The Commission sought an Expert Opinion on its Final report, and the view of Sir David Rowlands (former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport) is included in the main report and the Executive Summary. Sir David supports the conclusions and recommends that it be acted upon as a whole and not “cherry picked”.

The Commission feel that the Borough Council could reflect on the engagement with the public and media achieved by the commission process and could usefully apply some of the lessons learnt in its future approach to Scrutiny.

Sir Brian Briscoe, Chair of the Commission, said “We are grateful to the people of Reading who gave time and thought to these challenging problems. Our Recommendations are not easy options for local politicians and we recognise that there will be controversy about them. We are clear that doing nothing is not an option, and we urge politicians and the public in Reading and its surroundings to shape the future to avoid economic and environmental decline. We appreciate the opportunity to study this set of issues and we wish you well in grappling with them.”

Reading’s Independent Transport Commission held ten public hearings. Evidence from the hearings and summaries of all sessions held have been posted in full on the website.

Thursday 17 January 2008

  • Initial evidence was taken from Reading Council Officers on the current transport infrastructure in Reading as well as development plans and the likely impact of these on future traffic patterns.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

  • Evidence was taken from representatives of the Emergency Services, from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) and Reading’s neighbouring authorities Wokingham Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and Oxfordshire County Council.
  • The session investigated the government’s plans for Reading as a focus for regional economic growth and the extent of cross-boundary working on the necessary infrastructure, in particular the transport infrastructure. In addition, Thames Valley Police and South Central Ambulance NHS Trust gave their views on traffic issues in the greater Reading area.

Monday 28 January 2008

  • Evidence was taken from Reading Transport Ltd, the Thames Valley Campaign for Better Transport, Reading Cycle Campaign and Mr Adrian Lawson on the role of public transport in Reading now and in the future and the issues around cycling and walking in the town.

Monday 11 February 2008

  • Evidence was taken from Reading UK CIC (Community Interest Company), the Federation of Small Businesses, Reading Football Club/Madejski Stadium Complex, the Oracle Ltd Partnership, John Lewis plc and Prudential Property Investment Managers (PruPIM), which reviewed both the impact of transport issues on inward investment in Reading and the extent to which business itself contributes to local traffic congestion.

Monday 18 February 2008

  • Evidence was taken from the University of Reading, Sackville Developments (Reading) Ltd, Network Rail, Worton Grange Industrial Ltd, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce and Red Kite Electrical, which reviewed both the impact of transport issues on inward investment in Reading and the extent to which business itself contributes to local traffic congestion.

Tuesday 26 February 2008

  • Evidence was taken from selected members of the public who had submitted written evidence, including individuals representing Reading Friends of the Earth, Reading Green Party, Emmer Green Residents' Association and the Common Sense Party.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

  • Evidence was taken from selected members of the public who had submitted written evidence, including individuals representing Caversham & District Residents' Association and the Motorcycle Action Group.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

  • Local Issues - Evidence was taken from Reading Borough Council officers on local issues which concern the public, and questions were asked on the following topics:
    1. How the Council makes decisions on road, traffic and transport issues
    2. Traffic Pinch points:
      1. Rose Kiln Lane
      2. London Road
      3. Oxford Road
      4. Basingstoke Road bus gate
      5. Oracle/Queens Road Car Parks
    3. Chatham Place Development – impact on traffic flow
    4. Traffic Lights – phasing/technology
    5. Public transport, buses and bus lanes
    6. The school run
    7. Cycling, including cycle routes
    8. Motorcycling
    9. Pedestrians
    10. Road Signs
    11. Enforcement

Wednesday 19 March 2008

  • Strategic Issues - Evidence was taken from Reading Borough Council officers, to examine strategic issues and some possible solutions to Reading’s transport problems, and questions were asked on the following topics:
    1. Reading’s Transport, Planning & Economic Policies
    2. IDR
    3. Third Thames Bridge
    4. Cross Town Route
    5. Public Transport
    6. Park & Ride
    7. Congestion Charging/Road Pricing/Weight Restrictions on Lorries/Lorry Routing

Thursday 27 March 2008

  • A working session was held with selected members of the public who had submitted detailed written proposals for Reading’s traffic. As these relied heavily on maps and/or graphic explanations of issues concerning specific traffic pinch points, this evidence was tested in a public but informal setting, round a table, with maps and marker pens to hand.

Members of the Transport Commission also attended the Local Strategic Partnership on 11 February 2008, the Transport Users’ Forum on 27 February 2008, the Access Forum on 29 February 2008 and the Pensioners' Working Group on 28 March 2008.

The Independent Transport Commission

Photograph of Sir Brian Briscoe, Transport CommissionerSir Brian Briscoe headed up Reading’s Independent Transport Commission. The team also included Professor Tony Travers, of the London School of Economics, and Dr Maggie Smales, a local resident who has a background in local government, the voluntary sector, business and the media.

In November, the Commission put out a call for residents, businesses and organisations with views and ideas on the issue of traffic and transport in central Reading to come forward. Anyone with an interest in transport issues in Reading - whether an individual or an organisation - was urged to register their interest in the process and feed in their thoughts, opinions and suggestions.

All comments or evidence submitted have been published on this website. Please use the appropriate 'related information' link at the top right of this page to view the comments and evidence received.

The final deadline was 31 January 2008 and the consultation has now closed. In total over 540 responses were received. An analysis of the evidence received from private individuals has been undertaken and the interim and final versions of this are available as PDF documents at the bottom of this page.

Between January and March 2008 the Commission invited chosen contributors who had submitted written evidence to present their evidence to a series of public hearings. The decision on who to invite to give evidence at these hearings was made by Sir Brian and his Commission, based on written submissions received. Ten public hearings have been held and are listed above. Further information relating to these hearings has been published on the public hearings page of the website.

The Commission has now evaluated all the evidence received, and published its findings on 1 July 2008.

The Commission would like to thank all those who sent in submissions. Evidence received has proved enormously helpful in understanding the very wide range of transport issues which concern both the Reading public and local businesses.