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Cablegate: Transportation Secretary Peters Discusses Roads And

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R 041758Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7261
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INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 000349

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR ELTN UK
SUBJECT: TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY PETERS DISCUSSES ROADS AND
AVIATION IN UK

1. (U) Summary: Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, Ambassador
Tuttle, and state and local elected officials met with UK
Transportation Secretary Ruth Kelly on December 7 to discuss
private-public partnerships to address road congestion, stage II of
the U.S.-EU aviation agreement, and environmental emissions. The
delegation also met with Archie Robertson, CEO Highways Agency, and
toured that agency's Regional Control Center. End Summary

2. (U) Secretary Peters was accompanied on the trip by South
Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory,
Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn, A/S for
Transportation Policy Tyler Duvall, DAS for Aviation and
International Affairs Michael Reynolds, DAS for Governmental Affairs
Kerry O'Hare, Chief of staff Robert Johnson, and Special Assistant
to the Secretary Kate Stusrud.

3. (U) Secretary Peters explained to Secretary Kelly President
Bush's directive to the Department of Transportation (DoT) to help
reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil and to reduce
emissions in part by improving fuel efficiency of the USG vehicle
fleet. She explained the President's goal of reducing reliance on
fossil-based fuels by 20 percent in ten years, and the legislative
process to enact some of these changes into law. Secretary Peters
also explained the U.S. corridor management approach of using tax
benefits and expedited environmental permitting as ways to reduce
traffic and environmental harm.

Congestion
----------

4. (U) Secretary Kelly described UK efforts to reduce congestion as
having surpassed expectations. The London municipal government's
imposition of a congestion fee a few years ago had initially
frightened the business community, who felt it would damage the
local economy, but Kelly said there has been no evidence of harm.
In fact, the tariff has been increased (BPS 8 or USD 16/day) and the
economy and traffic situation both seem to be fine, Kelly said. She
did admit that most people are not "wild" about paying the fee, but
have accepted it. Kelly later informed the delegation that 1.8
million people signed a petition last year complaining that the
congestion charge was only a revenue generator and violated privacy
rights (through the many cameras throughout the city capturing
motorists who have not paid the tax). Manchester and Cambridge are
also considering implementing a similar system, and have been
awarded grants by the British government contingent upon
implementation of a congestion plan.

5. (U) In addition, Secretary Kelly explained, the UK is opening up
road shoulders during peak times. This also defied
pre-implementation fears of increased injuries; the personal injury
rate fell from 5 to 1.5. Kelly attributed this to increased cameras
and patrols on the roads identifying stopped vehicles, and to people
beginning to drive more respectfully.

Public Private Partnership
--------------------------

5. (U) Secretary Kelly described the UK approach to transferring
risk to the private sector in building, maintaining and owning
roadways as a learning process about how to consider and respond to
inevitable failures. She said the UK is getting better at reducing
failure rates as they gain experience. Kelly said that overcoming
the public's skepticism of turning to the private sector for
building infrastructure and assuming risk was difficult, but again,
has come to be well-accepted in the road sector.

Fuel Taxes
----------

6. (U) Secretary Kelly, in response to Director Rahn's question,
explained that UK fuel taxes are not dedicated to transportation (or
environmental) projects, but instead go directly to the general
fund.

Stage II of U.S.-EU Open Skies Negotiations
-------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Secretary Peters conveyed the U.S. commitment to moving
forward with Stage II with the EU and its member states, and to
working with the U.S. Congress on key issues in the second round of
negotiations. Secretary Kelly was pleased to know the U.S. is
working hard and explained that this is an important issue to the
UK. Secretary Peters encouraged Secretary Kelly to communicate
directly with Congressman Oberstar about the current draft
legislation in Washington regarding control and ownership that might
upset the Open Skies agreement.

Environmental Emissions
------------------------


LONDON 00000349 002 OF 002


8. (SBU) Secretary Peters described the U.S. desire to work with the
UK and Europe on a balanced approach within ICAO to emissions
issues. Kelly said there was a pre-condition to aviation
discussions that there be some type of framework around which all
could begin discussions - and that the European Emissions Trading
System is the best framework from which to learn. She said Europe
had learned from the U.S. experience on emissions trading about how
to price externalities.

Highway Agency
--------------

9. (U) In a separate meeting, Highways CEO Robertson explained his
agency's role, and how he encourages his team to borrow ideas from
the U.S., i.e., HOV lanes, balancing of the flow with demand
measures, controlling speed using signals, etc. He further
explained the hard-shoulder pilot program on 17KM of highway which
has polled an 80% customer satisfaction rate due to its reliability,
and questioned whether in this age of more reliable vehicles there
is actually a need for an emergency lane. He also indicated that
congestion pricing will be his second demand management tool. In a
country with approximately 30 million drivers/year averaging
15,000-20,000 miles/year there have been a total of 3000 roadway
deaths. The delegation then visited a Highways Agency traffic
management center outside of London, where they were shown motorway
traffic management technology.

TUTTLE

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