In the nine years since Labour came back to power there has been much discussion about an integrated transport approach – but little has been delivered. A major IT-based effort by the Department for Transport (DfT) has been its Transport Direct portal, an information site for UK travellers that attempts to provide the world’s first multi-modal transport portal, meaning it will ultimately offer one-stop access to train, bus, coach, tram, maps, updates on delays and ways to buy tickets. Rather like its governmental parent, progress has been slow. Although the system started working in 2003, its impact has been limited so far.
Meanwhile the DfT has had other challenges. Its Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency was criticised in 2005 by the National Audit Office after it found that nearly a third of its records contained an inaccuracy. The department has also missed the main e-government deadline for making its Bus Operators Grant available online. A delay by the DfT in defining technology standards to be used to implement the new Traffic Management Act, which is designed to improve road system congestion, has also brought criticism as utilities, haulage firms and others will need to change computer systems to comply – but by when?
At the same time, the department was able to report its secured efficiency gains of over £350,000 a year through offering an online option for booking driving tests. The DVLA also claims to be one of the first UK public sector adopters of a services oriented architecture.