DfT failing to meet targets

The Department for Transport (DfT) has been sharply criticised for missing targets on emissions and public transport use.

The House of Commons transport select committee described the DfT’s performance as a “terrible picture of failure” in its annual report on the ministry.

Five of the DfT’s seven public sector agreements were missed, with two congestion targets, public transport use, air quality and carbon dioxide emissions targets all missed.

Road congestion and rail punctuality public sector agreements were on track to be met the report notes.

And the committee was not optimistic things would improve.

“The department has not presented any evidence to convince us that the next five years will bring a radical change in performance,” said committee chairwoman Gwyneth Dunwoody.

“The DfT lacks a clear strategy of what it wants to achieve. Without this vision, it also lacks a timetable of policies which are necessary to bring improvements,” she added.

“I imagine that most rail users would be surprised to hear their experiences described as the pinnacle of the department’s annual achievements.”

The DfT disagreed with the way its work had been portrayed.

“The department does not agree with the characterisation of its work,” a spokesman said.

“We are investing record amounts in transport, but we fully acknowledge there is much still to do.”

He added: “Public sector agreement targets are challenging as they should be … We will respond more fully to the committee on the detail of the report in due course.”

But this was not good enough for opposition parties.

“This damning report is more evidence of a DfT which only has one idea – road pricing – and it can’t even explain that,” said Conservative shadow transport minister Owen Paterson said.

“There should be real questions asked about whether this department is capable of doing its job.”

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Alistair Carmichael added: “This report confirms what many of us have known for a long time, that the Department for Transport is starved of leadership and vision.

“The department has no one to blame but itself, as it insists on controlling everything from Whitehall. It has set itself up to fail.”