Making tracks : the politics of local rail transport in Merseyside and Strathclyde, 1986-96
This thesis explores the impacts of geographical structures of local governance upon the development of passenger rail transport policies in the Merseyside and Strathclyde urban regions. Rather than evaluate policy outcomes, it describes and analyses the systems and processes through which strategic rail transport policy-making is shaped and constrained. The impacts upon urban local rail transport policy-making of the statutory Passenger Transport Authorities and Executives, other local authorities, public and private sector bodies and individuals, which together comprise the prevailing structure of local governance in each area, are traced. The theory of the urban policy regime is applied to explain the development of particular policies from their basis in local political and popular concern, through to their implementation or rejection in order to illustrate the influences of each member of the policy community in practice. The two study areas and 1986-1996 timescale are chosen to represent the period when two differing territorial structures of Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) co-existed in the UK. Strathclyde Regional Council, which acted as PTA for the Clydeside conurbation and surrounding area in the west of Scotland, was the last remaining example in the UK of a strategic urban local government with jurisdiction over an entire city-region. In contrast, Merseytravel, the PTA responsible for local rail transport development in Merseyside, an urban region of similar economic, social and rail transport structure to Strathclyde, was jointly administered by five smaller local authorities acting under the quasi-market principles of public choice theory. Through a detailed exposition of the development of urban rail transport policies in each area, the ways in which both types of institutional arrangement influenced the structure and operation of the local policy regime, and its pattern of policy discourse, are analysed. The opportunities arising for the effective expression of public accountability under each system are highlighted, since this is a central aspiration of the abolition of strategic city-region wide local authorities inspired by public choice theory.