The Government's Local Transport Bill is not strong enough to deliver the improvements needed to get northern towns and cities moving according to a new report published today (Thursday) by the Institute for Public Policy Research North (ippr north).

The report argues the Local Transport Bill, which is about to have its second reading in Parliament, needs to give immediate powers to enable Passenger Transport Authorities (PTAs)/Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) to take control of buses and rail in northern city-regions. The current proposals would require city-regions to seek approval from the Secretary of State and further legislation.

The report argues that extending the powers of PTEs to cover roads, buses and rail services in urban areas is vital if transport in the North is to deliver economic growth. The report states that currently too many different organisations share responsibility for road planning, traffic management, bus regulation, and fares leading, to a lack of cohesion in services and increased congestion. ippr north also say there is a danger that rural areas, as well as those lacking strong leadership, will be left behind. It says more funding options, such as Supplementary Business Rates, should be considered alongside greater scope for towns and cities outside city-regions to consider road user charging.

Howard Reed, ippr Chief Economist, said: “Transport authorities need new powers in urban areas to allow them influence over the scheduling and availability of public transport, as well as more say in highway and traffic management. The draft Bill as it stands will require yet more legislation and for the sake of the northern towns and cities these changes need to as fast as possible.

“Regionally, too often communication lines are blurred between transport governance bodies. Giving PTEs power over roads and localised public transport networks would greatly benefit our city-regions while Regional Development Agencies should have a specific remit to make the case for better integration and ensure our transport networks are functioning at the regional level. “This means tackling common-sense issues which so often infuriate commuters, such as synchronising timetables so that, for example, the last bus is scheduled to leave after your train arrives, and not before, as is too often the case at present.”


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