Connecting lines: How devolving transport policy can transform our cities

Tom Banner

“Transport policy can be geared towards significant economic, social and environmental progress. Effective, well-integrated transport networks are able to drive inclusive economic growth, enable mobility and access to services, and help to improve the environment while supporting public health outcomes.”

This quotation is taken from ‘Connecting lines: How devolving transport policy can transform our cities’, the IPPR’s recent report on how directly elected mayors across England can take charge of, and improve, their city’s transport networks.

The need for “effective, well-integrated transport networks” that allow people to access their communities is, and always has been, at the heart of community transport. It’s encouraging to see this report address such an important issue.

Our Chief Executive Bill Freeman was present at the launch of the report. To find out more about what was said at the launch you can take a look at our Twitter account @CTAUK1 and the hash-tag #IPPRMayors.

The report’s author, Luke Raikes, has previously spoken at the Community Transport Association’s Westminster Conference in November. He spoke as part of a discussion on how we can re-imagine local transport. You can find a round-up of that discussion, including Luke’s presentation, here.

What the report says

“Across the major cities of England,” the report states, “new directly elected mayors will soon take charge of their transport network…This change is long overdue. The UK is behind other similar countries: we invest far less in infrastructure and leave local transport authorities without the powers they need over their transport networks.”

The report argues that this presents an important opportunity for English cities to improve their transport systems and gives recommendations both on how newly elected mayors can improve their city’s transport infrastructure over their time in office, and how central government can support them in this.

They recommend that mayors should invest in their transport networks by drawing on new resources; integrate the transport services of public, private and community transport providers; and lead their city by governing inclusively and making sure that transport is representatives of their communities.

The report highlights the view that integrated transport delivered on a local level is of vital importance. It highlights the powers that will be granted to new mayors in the upcoming Buses Bill to franchise (or regulate) their bus networks. This, the report argues, is important to make sure that bus services work for local people. They also point out that Total Transport pilots across the country are showing how transport services can be better coordinated in rural areas. City based mayors can learn from this, they argue.

The report sets out some key goals for the future of integrated transport. It argues that, in 2017, elected mayors should pledge to use their powers to guarantee “that no resident lives more than an hour’s bus journey or an affordable bus ticket away form a job, so that all residents are connected with vital work opportunities, and to make a similar commitment around travel to a leisure centre.”

By 2020, the IPPR would “expect mayors to invest in and develop their network further, and to implement a Total Transport plan which would guarantee that no citizen is an unreasonable distance from hospitals, GP surgeries and other important public services.  By 2024, mayors should have enough funding and control to pledge that their transport infrastructure will “keep pace with the most advanced cities in the rest of Europe.”

Through investing in transport networks and pursuing an integrated Total Transport system, which champions, public, private and community transport, IPPR believe that these goals are achievable.

What we think

The Community Transport Association agrees with the report’s findings that integrated transport solutions, built from the ground up, are of the utmost importance in delivering accessible and inclusive transport. The aim of ensuring that every resident lives within an accessible distance to employment, health and leisure services is one that we wholeheartedly support and that we and our members work for every day.

We’re also encouraged that the report highlights community transport as one of the ways that this is achievable. In any discussion surrounding the principle of Total Transport, we’ve always championed the idea that community transport is an integral part of any integrated transport system and that not-for-profit transport should be put front and centre, rather than just a fall back to fill the holes left by commercial operators. Investment in community transport is a necessity if our cities and rural areas really are going to have a Total Transport system that achieves this report’s goals.

This report by the IPPR is further evidence that creating a transport system that is accessible and inclusive, working for all regardless of location or circumstance, is firmly on the public agenda. We’re pleased that community transport is part of this conversation, and at the CTA we’ll work to make sure that the voice of our members in the policy making process only increases.

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