A roadmap to better relations between city regions and government includes prompt enactment of the Bus Services Bill, more stable funding and tougher action on toxic air.
The calls come from the Urban Transport Group (UTG), which said its Policy futures for urban transport report provides a vision for how UK transport policy could unfold in a way that will ‘enable the nation’s largest urban areas to deliver inclusive growth in a smart and sustainable way’.
UTG chair Dr Jon Lamonte
The report argues that ‘the right national policy framework’ is needed for further progress in delivering modern, efficient and fully integrated urban transport networks.
These networks would be accessible via smart and simple ticketing systems and break down barriers between different sectors ‘to ensure that the benefits transport can bring to achieving wider policy goals are fully realised and rewarded’.
Dr Jon Lamonte, chair of UTG and CEO of Transport for Greater Manchester, said: ‘From the major expansion of Manchester Metrolink to the total overhaul of the Tyne and Wear Metro and from cycle superhighways to the roll-out of smart ticketing, our urban transport networks are being transformed through the significant investment programmes that we are delivering.
‘At the same time more devolution of transport responsibilities and powers to more focussed governance in the city regions is paying off, including through better performing and more responsive local rail networks.
‘We now want to build on these foundations - and this report shows how. It takes the detailed policy development work that the Urban Transport Group has undertaken in recent years and turns that into a route map for what an effective working relationship between Government and the city regions should look like on transport.’
Dr Lamonte said a ‘key immediate priority’ was to ensure that the Bus Services Bill is enacted and fully usable by spring 2017 – and delivers on its aims of giving certain transport authorities London-style powers over local bus networks.
The report sets out a total of 15 ways that Government and urban transport authorities can work together to improve transport in large conurbations.
- keeping up the momentum on rail devolution
- a long-term investment plan for local, inter-regional and inter-city services
- an ambitious national active travel strategy
- greater availability of smart and simple ticketing
- ‘greater stability (and less competition funding) for local transport funding in line with the more long term approach now being taken to national road and rail infrastructure’
It says the proposed HS2 rail link ‘will allow for the biggest re-writing of the national rail network since it was built’.
The report is also implicitly critical of the Government’s approach to killer air pollution, arguing for ‘a more effective partnership with national government to tackle air quality challenges…based on robust modelling which shapes ambitious targets’.