Matt Dyer's blog: 19 March 2014 - Transport policies after the next general election
19 March 2014
Matt Dyer is commercial director at Leaseplan
With the 2015 General Election steadily approaching, it seems a good time to start speculating how the three main political parties will address transport, and specifically cars, in their manifestos.
The recent plan to ban smoking in cars with children has attracted a lot of controversy, illustrating how contentious transport policies can be.
The Conservatives seemed to be the most engaged in supporting electric vehicles. Their 2010 manifesto promised the creation of a national charging network to incentivise a widespread switch to greener vehicles.
Making road travel cheaper and easier crudely summarises the Conservative's transport policy, and this has been reflected in their recent pledge to freeze fuel duties until 2015.
Moving on to the other half of the Coalition, the Liberal Democrat's 2010 manifesto was not so vehicle-friendly and was instead aimed at reducing people's reliance on their cars, while making public transport more desirable.
The LibDems have struggled in government to realise some of their key transport policies, such as the national road pricing scheme, a contentious plan that generated much criticism.
However, their pledge to reduce the financial pressures of driving in rural areas has been put into action.
In contrast, the Labour manifesto rejected the concept of road pricing and instead outlined a strategy to tackle road congestion, which included the widening of the M25.
Interestingly, a speech by Labour MP Maria Eagle, previously the shadow secretary of state for transport, cited the importance of incentivising the private sector "to purchase ultra low-emission vehicles, to green their fleets and kick-start a second-hand electric car market to bring down prices".
It is highly likely that all three parties will pledge a similar commitment to reducing vehicle emissions and creating a greener transport network.
However, the most interesting element will be each party's specific approach to tackling this issue and consequently, it is the differentiating features that will have the biggest impact for fleet operators.
Regardless of the outcome of the next election, the progress of flagship projects such as HS2, Crossrail and the potential for a fifth runway at Heathrow also have the potential to significantly influence cross-party policy towards road vehicles over the next few years.