Council Leader: We’ll keep pushing for mass transit scheme for Leeds
The Leader of Leeds City Council has vowed to continue to call for more funding for transport in the city and region after releasing the new Leeds Transport Strategy today.
Council Leader Councillor Judith Blake confirmed providing a mass transit service in Leeds remains a key aim for the city and wider city region, after announcing a range of measures to invest £270million in public transport in Leeds over the next four years.
The headline elements of the strategy include providing a parkway rail connection to Leeds Bradford Airport for the first time, along with additional new rail stations at the White Rose Centre and Thorpe Park and improved accessibility at Cross Gates, Morley and Horsforth stations.
Enhancing bus and park and ride provision is a key section of the strategy, with over £110m to be invested in a range of infrastructure improvements supported by £71m from First West Yorkshire to provide at least 284 new low-emissions buses by the end of 2021. Currently 250,000 bus journeys are made every day in Leeds, and the measures outlined being part of an aim to double the numbers of bus passengers in the next 10 years.
The improvements in the strategy have been identified from trends in more than 8,000 responses received in the transport conversation this summer. The £270m total investment includes the £173.5m of Department of Transport funding secured following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus, with this funding needing to be invested in public transport before the end of 2021. The additional funding comes from First West Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private developer contributions.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“This investment in public transport and the new Leeds Transport Strategy is hugely important for us to make deliverable changes to make a big difference in the immediate and short term, especially as we need to have spent the £173.5m of government funding by 2021.
“The investment now is a response to the action people told us they wanted to see delivered as soon as possible, but as a city and for the regional economy we continue to need a viable mass transit system which benefits all communities in Leeds and will boost growth and onward connectivity. Mass transit systems can cost around £80million per kilometre and take a long time to plan and deliver, so such a scheme was not possible with the current level of funding available and also the timescale the government set us.
“To bring about such a scheme must remain the ambition so we are calling on all key partners and everyone in the city to work together to secure the very significant amount of funding we need.
“Funding levels for transport in London and the south continue to dwarf those offered to the north, so while we are delighted with this latest investment and are very grateful to all our partners, we know we must keep pushing for the ultimate aim of providing the fully integrated 21st century transport network Leeds and the wider city region needs and deserves.”
Apart from the major investment in rail, bus and park and ride provision, the new Leeds Transport Strategy includes encouraging people to cycle and walk more, through less congested roads and improved air quality along with improved city centre spaces and enhanced facilities in district centres.
Along with the city centre package which aims to improve public spaces by reducing the dominance of vehicles as part of the preparations for high-speed rail, the new strategy includes creating modern transport interchanges around Vicar Lane, the Headrow and Infirmary Street/Park Row.
To encourage more cycling participation, Leeds is committed to continuing to improve cycling infrastructure in the city, with £35m being invested in the mostly government-funded City Connect cycling superhighway in the city. Development of the Leeds core cycle network is also ongoing.
The new transport strategy is based around three overall objectives:
- Prosperous Leeds – More people using a modern and attractive bus service and greater access to the rail network will enable the city to better accommodate growth. Improving the city centre environment will help attract new businesses and improve the city’s readiness for future opportunities such as HS2 and the European Capital of Culture.
- Liveable Leeds – The improvements to the city centre and district centres will make them more people friendly. People will have access to a wider labour market. The significant programme of projects will support new opportunities for skills development and new and better local jobs. People of all abilities will have more opportunities to connect to the rail network.
- Healthy Leeds – People-friendly streets encourage more walking and cycling whilst improvements to our bus fleet and more people travelling by public transport will improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.
The proposals in the strategy build on recent successes such as the Park and Ride site at Elland Road, the opening of Leeds Southern Station Entrance and Kirkstall Forge Rail Station, quality bus corridors and significant junction improvements. More is planned over the coming years through the West Yorkshire Transport Fund including the opening of Temple Green Park and Ride next year.
The strategy has been supported and guided by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the new Leeds transport advisory panel. The panel is chaired by Director of Strategy for Transport for the North Nigel Foster and includes leading transport experts and senior figures from transport bodies and organisations, along with representatives from the worlds of business, education, planning, accessibility, equalities and campaign groups.
It also forms part of the wider regional strategic economic plan which aims to deliver up to 36,000 new jobs and an additional £3.7billion of economic output by 2036 in the Leeds City Region.
Chair of the Leeds Transport Advisory Panel Nigel Foster said:
“These proposals will deliver improvements for journeys in Leeds and act as a strong foundation to build a long-term plan to transform transport in Leeds. The panel’s next step is to support partners in the city to deliver these shorter-term measures, while developing the innovative and ambitious future plan that will help Leeds achieve good economic growth and open up opportunities for all.”
The proposals and strategy will be considered by senior councillors at next week’s executive board meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 14 December. If approved, the proposals for the £270m investment will then go to the Department of Transport for its consideration. The transport conversation will continue next year on the longer-term transport strategy for Leeds.
To see the new Leeds Transport Strategy and supporting documents as part of the executive board agenda, visit http://bit.ly/2h2YvBJ
Notes to editors:
The full list of members of the transport advisory panel can be seen at www.leeds.gov.uk/transportconversation
For media enquiries please contact:
Leeds City Council communications,
Tel: 0113 247 5472