Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Green Party Response to the West Yorkshire Transport Strategy 2016 - 2036

Here's the final response  we gave to the West Yorkshire Transport Strategy. I was persuaded to take the following sentence out of our response as it wasn't the right tone I quite liked it though

"The intermediate West Yorkshire stop on the Northern Powerhouse Rail route HS3 should be located in Narnia as a fantasy project should be located in a fantasy kingdom."

 So if you're reading from West Yorkshire Combined Authority that is what you could have had!

The Green Party Response to the West Yorkshire Transport Strategy 2016 - 2036

This response to the West Yorkshire Transport Strategy represents the views of the Green Parties of West Yorkshire and has been shared and agreed with our elected representatives on Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees Councils and through consultation with Party members throughout West Yorkshire.

How strongly you agree or disagree with our proposed policies described in each of the core themes and the cross-cutting theme?

We believe a 60 year vision is needed. 20 years is too short a period to realise the sort of transformation in our transport system that is needed.

An initial observation on the consultation questions is that there are a lot of obvious ‘Motherhood and Apple Pie’ statements that we are asked to express an opinion on. This devalues the consultation exercise and could lead respondees to question its validity.

Delivering the Strategy is very dependent on road improvements with a strong emphasis on road schemes which will lead to increased capacity on Major routes. This accommodation of demand can only be temporary in nature. Delivering road improvements to local congestion hot spots is eventually and inevitably self-defeating as demand increases and diminishes the dubious benefit of the investment.

Road surfaces however desperately need improvements for all road users especially cyclists who are at most personal risk from potholed roads. The austerity budgets being imposed by central Government on local Councils is leading to a rapidly deteriorating road network

In the Consultation questionnaire it asks whether we should “Provide new roads to improve access to development sites” – This seems a very odd question and leads to a strong suspicion that it is aboutencouraging development in green belt as it assumes development will be away from existing hubs.We need to develop housing and employment around existing transport hubs and communities rather than creating new ones. We must avoid monoculture communities e.g. commuter belt towns. We also have concerns that improving orbital roads may well suck the life out of city centres

Demand reduction needs to be an aim of the Strategy. We must have policies in place that limit the necessity to have vehicles. Spatial Planning that links existing transport hubs with new development is one way of addressing demand, as is l.  Travel diaries/Travel Planning are important tools to help people adopt healthier forms of transport.  More food grown and used locally to avoid food miles is another approach.  You should also be working with local councils, developers, and bus operators to ensure that developments proposed over the next 15- 20 years in DLP’s can be serviced by public transport, cycling and walking.  The alternative is more congestion and pressure to carry out self-defeating road improvements

We strongly believe that local and community rail improvements should be prioritised over new road schemes, as should improvements to the bus network which currently carries 5 – 6 times more passengers than rail. A process of “Debeechification” should begin with greater emphasis on improving and expanding the rail network; while more road space should be dedicated to bus priority lanes.

HS2 is largely irrelevant to our local transport needs and the money would be much better spent on improving public transport infrastructure locally ie rail, light rail, tram and bus networks. We strongly oppose a masterplan for a new HS2 Yorkshire Hub Station in Leeds on that basis.

The question as to where the intermediate West Yorkshire stop on the Northern Powerhouse Rail route HS3 should be located is unfortunately irrelevant as we believe this is a fantasy project not grounded in reality.

The Consultation Questionnaire says that we should “Involve Communities in making improvements to their neighbourhoods to create safer and healthier places” – How and with what money?

Accessibility for people with disabilities should be an important part of the Strategy particularly as we move to more pedestrian friendly town centres.

We should look to banning diesel cars from all Town and City Centres – California has set a good example with a policy that we should follow – starting by announcing a ban on the worst polluting diesel vehicles/cars from Town Centres to start by 2020.

“The current duopoly of First and Arriva in West Yorkshire is uncompetitive and does not act in the interest of the public transport user.  It gives unfair advantage to the dominant operator in any sub-area and stops the development of other operations that could significantly improve services.  Effectively the market works for First and Arriva, but nobody else.  In our view anything short of the powers that Transport for London have regarding buses means the main providers of public transport in West Yorkshire will not work in the interest of its people.”

What you think we should measure to show our progress in delivering transport improvements in each of the core themes and the cross-cutting theme?

The Strategy should be set against the context of the Paris Climate Agreement. It should be an integral part of the Strategy to show how it is contributing to the carbon emissions reduction targets set in the Nationally Determined Contributions agreed in Paris last year. It is a major omission that it is not. 

The Strategy says it wants to have “The best bus system in Europe” as an aspiration. This is a very strange aspiration. Where is the best bus system in Europe? How is it determined – what about the rest of public transport? What about walking and cycling?

The automatic assumption that all growth is good is a fundamental problem with the strategy. Growth can negatively impact on quality of life through, for instance, air pollution and the knock on impact on public health. What we should measure to show progress in delivering improvements to road network are decreasing emissions in terms of Carbon/SOX/NOX/Particulates and noise reduction. 

We need a holistic cost analysis of different transport options for instance public transport V car would have added a lot of substance to the strategy. There is no such analysis in the strategy and this is a major weakness.

Another important way to measure the success of the Strategy would be by measuring modal shift from car to Public Transport and measuring the use of the Mcard for regular public transport users.

“Road deaths” are not just about traffic accidents but the premature deaths caused each year as a result of emissions and low air quality – Gloucestershire’s Speed Reduction Partnership give communities their own speed guns – This is a good example that West Yorkshire could emulate.  

We were asked to say how we should measure progress in delivering improvements to places to places to live and work? There is a well established methodology called the Happiness Index that would be well suited to this task. We should also measure progress through satisfaction surveys of commuters and general transport users using all modes of transport.

Have we missed anything you feel should be included in the strategy?

A hierarchy of users should be followed through in the Strategy starting with the pedestrian first and the private car last.

The strategy should not encourage aviation by supporting the expansion of Leeds/Bradford airport. This would be in harmony with a strategy that took a holistic approach to transportation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Rail use for freight should be encouraged and there is an absence of serious comment on this in the strategy documentation.

We need to invest in traffic signals so vehicles can move more freely, more efficiently and in a less polluting fashion. This should be linked with Action in the ground by the Highways Agency and local Councils.

There are jobs in a ‘green approach’ to transport policies – e.g. cycle logistics firms. Showing how the transport strategy is going to support employment would be a positive addition to the strategy

The benefits of new technology should benefit us all – autonomous and connected vehicles providing “collective” solutions rather than new gadgets for an elite. We are thinking particularly of advances towards driverless cars which may become a reality during the life of this strategy.

Fleet Managers need the right policy levers to enable them to be the first movers on new vehicle technology such as electric and hybrid cars. Showing how this could be achieved in the strategy would have been helpful.

We would be happy to meet relevant officers of West Yorkshire Transport Authority to discuss our observations 

Yours sincerely

Councillor Andrew Cooper on behalf of Green Parties across West Yorkshire

1 comment:

  1. Like it. Very well written with only a couple of glitches that I could see.