While local authorities and the new combined authorities will continue to deliver local transport, cross-regional transport will increasingly be developed within a framework set by Transport for the North. Set up in 2014, Transport for the North is an alliance of local enterprise partnerships, combined authorities and local transport bodies charged with coordinating transport in Northern England. But we know that much transport expertise is to be found - not just in these offical bodies - but in local and national transport and environmental campaign groups. It was these groups whose views we sought.
"There should be an emphasis on providing good public transport links between areas of economic deprivation and areas with healthy economic growth. This means local links from rural and former industrial areas to cities, not just strategic inter-city links."
- South East Northumberland Rail User Group
Through workshops in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, as well as an online survey, we gathered the views of more than 120 passionate and knowledgeable people from local passenger groups and cycling groups, green groups and many others. We passed these views to TfN to feed into its emerging Strategic Transport Plan.
Participants told us that they want to see carbon reduction and tackling air pollution as central aims of the plan, with protection for landscape and the natural environment. There was strong support for joined-up public transport services that connect local communities, including moves to integrated ticketing, as well as encouragement for walking and cycling.
"To open a [rail] service from Stockport to Manchester Victoria would ease congestion on the roads, thereby improving air quality and reducing carbon for those of us on the east of the city who have no option but to drive and make matters worse."
- Friends of Reddish South Station
We hope our work will make the Strategic Transport Plan (which is still in development) greener and more relevant to local transport concerns. There are some encouraging signs, for instance TfN has published a 'position statement' on sustainability which clearly reflects the views we gathered.
We're also pleased that TfN is focusing on smart ticketing as an early priority. Less encouraging are the noises it is making about road building: the groups we spoke to agreed that major new roads are not the answer. We will continue to work with these groups to speak up for sustainable transport options in the final Plan which goes out for consultation later this year.
"If sections of the strategic highway network are expanded, what will happen on the local highway networks that connect with it?"
- Yorkshire & Humberside Transport Activists Roundtable
Photo by mattbuck, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.