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15-year transport plans released

Simon Binns picks apart the stats and the shopping list

Written by . Published on April 7th 2011.

15-year transport plans released

Plans for the next 15 years of local transport strategy in West Yorkshire will have to be ‘flexible’ because of constraints on funding.

On the train, you’ll find ‘the worst overcrowding outside London’, and a lack of capacity at Leeds rail station. Here’s another interesting stat; the number of rail passengers travelling into Leeds is predicted to increase by 66 per cent by 2026.’

Councillor Chris Greaves, chair of the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, which revealed is new plan this week, said funding would be ‘very restricted in the early years’ but would still support investment in major schemes, including the Leeds NGT (New Generation Transport)scheme, which includes plans for a trolleybus around Leeds.

Greaves also admitted that while the majority of journeys will continue to be made by car, improving bus services was at the heart of plans, which brings together six ‘big ideas’. Over the next three year, £154m will be spent on the transport network.

Car journeys account for 21 per cent of all carbon emissions in West Yorkshire, but the plan admits that ‘although bus and rail performance has improved in recent years, public transport is still not meeting its full potential: trains are crowded in the peak periods and bus usage is falling. Fare levels, frequent network changes and lack of integration between services are seen as major barriers to a greater usage of bus services.’

So what are these ‘big ideas’?

1. Enhanced travel information

2. Fully integrated ticketing

3. Investment in low carbon modes of travel

4. A new approach to buses

5. Phasing in stronger demand management

6. New approach to network management

The plan has been drawn up with West Yorkshire’s five district councils: Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, who all have their own goals.

You have to wait until you get 28 pages in until the interesting statistics start appearing: West Yorkshires economic performance is 10 per cent below the national average, ranging from 24 per cent below in Bradford, to 12 per cent above in Leeds.

The biggest journey-to-work flows are within districts, followed by trips to Leeds and Bradford. But access to other city regions is poor and rail routes to London, Manchester and Sheffield are slow. Public transport surface access to airports is also described as poor, except from city centres.

Bus use fell by 8.8 per cent between 2001/02 and 2009/10 in West Yorkshire - high fares and concern about value for money were worrying the public the most. The lack of integration and of integrated ticketing between different operators, services and modes of transport is also a headache.

The report also says there is ‘a lack of competition in the bus services market making it difficult to demonstrate value for money. Four large bus operators have a virtual monopoly over services in West Yorkshire, with 92 per cent of customers having no choice except to the services of one of these companies.’

On the train, you’ll find ‘the worst overcrowding outside London’, and a lack of capacity at Leeds rail station.

Doing nothing, as is so often said, is not an option. The numbers of jobs and workers in West Yorkshire are expected to grow 18 per cent faster than the national average over the next 15 years, and when you consider that more than half of West Yorkshire's population and jobs are in Leeds and Bradford currently, the problem of overcrowding can only get worse.

Here’s another interesting stat; the number of rail passengers travelling to Leeds is predicted to increase by 66 per cent by 2026.

So, the strategy; there’s lots of broad-brush-stroke talk – transport assets, travel choices, connectivity, enhancements – which leads back to the six big ideas. More details in the panel on that.

Are the proposed changes needed? Absolutely. Are they deliverable? Time will tell on that front – but tell us what you think. Are city centres more important than outlying areas? Are buses or trains the priority? Should we be looking at better airport links?Rant below...

Lets put some flash on the bones. Here’s the wishlist:

Enhanced Travel Information:
Integrated Travel Information Website created.

Integrated Travel Information Mobile phone applications supported.

Integrated Travel Planner supported.

‘Self Service’ personalised travel information developed.

Additional Real Time Passenger Information displays installed.

Customer Information Screens installed at rail stations.

Integrated Ticketing:
Smart/technology based integrated tickets introduced.

Installed smart Ticket Vending machines.

Smartcard operation of barrier gates at Leeds and Bradford Rail Stations.

Low carbon modes of travel.

Leeds Station Southern Entrance completed.

New rail stations at Low Moor, Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall Forge started.

NGT - Scheme funding approval secured and scheme under development.

Safety, access and general improvements completed at rail stations.

Cycle Improvements programme completed.

Walking Improvements programme completed.

Low Emissions Strategy progressed/adopted.

New Approach to buses:
Quality Contract (or partnership) Implementation Strategy adopted and started.

A65 Quality Bus Corridor completed.

Traffic Light Priority programme completed (200 locations)

Bus Priority schemes completed.

Transport Hub Strategy adopted.

Hub at Castleford completed.

Bus Station development, upgrades and repairs completed.

Bus Shelters stock improvements (150 upgrades) completed.

Stronger demand management.

Parking review and agreed common approach to parking control progressed/completed.

New approach to network management

North Wakefield Gateway completed.

Connecting Airedale- improvements at Saltaire completed.

Leeds Inner Ring Road repairs started.

KSEZ A62 Initial phase of improvements complete.

Local Junction, Highway and signal Improvements (at up to 15 locations) completed.

Network Management Plan adopted.

Street Works Permit System introduced.

Combined UTMC Operations established.

Transport Asset Management Plan adopted.

Key Route Networks and User Hierarchy and associated tool kits adopted.

Emergency Response/Disruption Recovery Plan adopted.

Joint Procurement Strategy adopted.

West Yorkshire Freight Strategy adopted.

West Yorkshire Transport Fund investigated/adopted

You can see the full plan here.

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