The Passenger Transport Executive Group (pteg) has called on the Treasury to recognise the unique benefits of local transport ahead of the July Spending Review.
The call comes as the group - which represents the six strategic transport bodies in the largest city regions outside London - identified key advantages to smaller transport schemes, including being more responsive, more targeted and the ability to act as a pilot to provide proof of concept.
The Small but mighty report comes from in-depth research into ten local case studies and builds on pteg’s 2011 Value for money report which found that, on average, smaller schemes deliver £3.50 of economic benefits for every £1 of public spending.
‘Smaller schemes can be more effectively targeted at key bottlenecks and focus on quick wins. [They] (…) provide a low cost, low risk opportunity to test out novel ideas before proceeding to a larger scale roll-out,’ the latest pteg research argues.
Dr Jon Lamonte, chair of pteg, said: ‘By using local expertise to target local problems, smaller transport schemes can deliver outstanding value for money. Combined with larger transformational projects, they are vital in promoting economic growth and achieving wider social objectives.’
Dr Lamonte went on to suggest that pteg’s research should inform the upcoming Spending Review on 8 July ‘ensuring local transport can fulfil its potential in supporting economic growth.’
Outlining the four main advantages to smaller schemes, petg states:
· Small schemes are responsive – they are easy to implement and can be used to address swiftly changing situations. The South Yorkshire JobConnectors programme provided enhanced bus links to new employment sites in an area of South Yorkshire with low car ownership, creating up to a 62% increase in patronage, while reducing staff turnover and improving recruitment.
· Small schemes can capitalise effectively on local knowledge to quickly tackle known local problems. For example in West Yorkshire a traffic light priority scheme identified and prioritised junction signals, reprogramming them to speed up buses. This has had a positive effect on bus reliability and operating speeds, with journey time savings of around 15%.
· Small schemes can provide proof of concept and scalability – they can help us understand key success factors, which can be used to scale up what works. The Ucycle project in Nottingham started with two small trials at university campuses, and was later extended to encompass further education colleges and improvements to cycle routes following positive early results. Nearly 15% of University of Nottingham students and staff now cycle to campus.
· Small schemes are easily targeted – they can focus on quick wins and the most troublesome bottlenecks. Transport for Greater Manchester’s ‘Local Link’ bus initiative provides a bookable ‘go anywhere’ bus service that fills in the missing links in transport provision, allowing workers to reach previously inaccessible employment opportunities. In one area, work trips by bus almost doubled.