Improved transport policies can drive economic growth for our cities

We already know that good transport links can make a huge difference to the economic success of a city; but cities don’t need to just wait for new infrastructure to come along, which in most cases will take years to get off the drawing board to receiving funding and for construction to complete.

In fact in many cases, cities don’t even need to wait for government to release funding or make changes to policy or regulations, to take action. Research released found that many cities abroad have found ways around the often confusing array of regulations, funding pots and organisations involved, to provide improved transport provisions for the city or region. Indeed, some of the greatest success stories have been where the partners have worked across city or regional boundaries, and not let policy be dictated by authority boundaries.

Ours is often viewed as a special case and a dream to aspire to by other cities when it comes to planning, economic development and transport regulation. Indeed, our integrated transport system has made a huge difference to people finding work and supporting the city’s economic growth and address environmental considerations.

The report does recommend that the Government give other cities, such as minimum 5-year transport funding settlements and support for all cities to use their existing revenue raising powers to ensure that local transport services meet local needs, it also highlights a number of best practice examples from across the country that cities can learn from and implement now.

For example, Nottingham  in UK, has not only introduced a smart ticketing system along the lines of the London Oyster card, it also established a Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS). All the city’s private bus companies had to qualify for the SQPS to use the city’s bus stops, and so could be regulated through this to improve the bus service for passengers. While there were undoubtedly challenges to putting these provisions in place, Nottingham should be commended for finding a solution by flexing its existing powers within the current system to improve the bus service.

Brand new transport infrastructure can take decades to deliver, and no doubt many cities feel that seeing changes from government can sometimes take just as long. It can be all too easy to sit back and wait for them to decide transport policy for a state. But I would argue that there are already cities up and down the country that have found ways to make improvements and take action now, and so it’s a case of sharing best practice and learning from each other to get cities moving. Otherwise as the country’s economy picks up, cities that don’t take action and find ways to work with partners or pool resources, risk being left behind.


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