Critical challenges and solutions to improving transport in city regions identified ahead of party conferences

What next for urban transport? cover

The challenges to improving transport in the UK’s city regions and the solutions needed to overcome them have been set out by the Urban Transport Group today.

In a report published ahead of the Autumn party conferences, the Group - the UK's network of city region transport authorities – identifies four urban transport challenges and four solutions, as well as what transport authorities need from Government to bring about these changes.

The report, What next for urban transport?, identifies the following challenges for urban transport:

  • Climate change and air quality
  • Inclusive growth
  • Technological change
  • Health and wellbeing

It sets out the following solutions:

  • Help people to make more short journeys on foot or by bike
  • Get city regions back on the bus
  • Boost rail capacity
  • Harness the power of technological change

In order for these to happen, city regions must:

  1. be able to take control of their transport networks including giving all transport authorities the powers to franchise bus networks, oversee urban rail services, and operate more public transport services directly, where they wish to do so.
  2. be given a new funding deal from Government which will: reform bus funding to prevent further decline in patronage; deliver stable, long term, local funding so urban transport networks can be properly maintained and developed in the most cost effective way; ensure the costs of the national concessionary fares scheme are met by national government; and require the NHS to use part of its growing budget to reduce its own transport impacts.

Stephen Edwards, Chair of the Urban Transport Group and Executive Director of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, said:

“As transport authorities we are already investing heavily in maintaining and improving urban transport. However, there is much more that needs to be done if transport is to contribute effectively to meeting the many challenges that city regions face, from the climate crisis to public health challenges associated with a lack of physical activity.

“The right policies can help overcome these challenges – such as encouraging more active travel to improve air quality and health outcomes, and boosting the bus to support a host of opportunities for their users, such as access to employment, education and leisure.

“What we need from Government is to create the conditions for these to happen by handing more power to the places which run their transport networks, and through a new funding deal that is adequate and appropriate for such networks to flourish.”

The report will be debated at the Urban Transport Group’s upcoming party conference fringe meetings. Speakers at the Conservative Party Conference meeting include Joanne Roney, Chief Executive for Manchester City Council and Polly Billington, Director at UK100, while the Labour Party Conference event includes the Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald MP. An invitation only breakfast meeting is also being held at the Liberal Democrates party conference.