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Dialogue around devolving transport governance continues to grow. Indeed, a wide range of stakeholders – from campaign groups and think tanks to local government and universities – are now involved in a national conversation about how best to move things forward.
With the Cities and Devolution Bill and the Spending Review in full swing, now is a good time to reflect on the story so far.
Previous work undertaken by ICE, and others like the Campaign for Better Transport, has found that current arrangements for the delivery of local transport are not up to scratch.
In part, these pieces of work have concluded that:
Making the case for devolving the responsibility for planning, funding and managing local transport away from Westminster is one thing, but establishing where to relocate it to is another.
The prevailing consensus is that city regions represent the best scale at which transport governance could be optimised.
There is no need to be an expert planner or engineer in order to appreciate the benefits of the way in which transport in London operates. It is clear, from the user perspective, that it is pretty good.
All four corners of London are connected through a multi-modal integrated system, that is increasingly more accessible thanks to well-designed station interchanges, while smart ticketing and an almost endless supply of real-time travel information mean that it is speedy and convenient to use.
Replicating elements of the London model would be a good starting point for other city regions, but there must be recognition that the way in which transport operates in the capital is unique.
As the conversation on how best to devolve transport grows it is important that it takes note of the inherent differences between city regions, incorporating the knowledge of technical and local experts alike.
As a final thought, it is worth noting that by 2030 nearly 90% of the UK’s population will live in cities. Preparing for the future by finding the most effective ways of devolving transport governance now, is just common sense, no?