Good transport is a critical condition for economic growth and social inclusion in Britain’s cities. Yet public transport use and quality in most British cities have declined in recent decades. Following bus de-regulation in the 1980s and rail privatisation in the 1990s, urban transport services have become more fragmented than ever. Both Labour and Conservative Governments have largely failed to stem the tide – and local government lacks the powers needed to shape transport services in a way that meets cities’ economic needs.
As a result, different transport services often don’t link up properly. Fragmented and poorly coordinated transport networks impact on our cities’ employment base, the functioning of local labour markets, the welfare of local residents and the local environment. At a time of economic uncertainty and high fuel prices, integrated urban public transport is more important than ever from an economic point of view – in order to link people to jobs and services – and help cities improve.
This report defines ‘integrated transport’, explains why it is critical to Britain’s city economies, and explores policy changes that would help to create better integrated public transport networks in city-regions like Greater Manchester and Tyneside. It argues that greater integration is critical to delivering economic growth and prosperity in British cities – whose transport systems are well behind world leaders in continental Europe and the Far East. It also sets out concrete actions that should be taken by central and local government following passage of the Local Transport Bill, which is expected to receive Royal Assent over the next few months.
*John Preston is Professor at the School of Civil Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, and director of the Transportation Research Group. Adam Marshall is Head of Policy and Lena Tochtermann is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Cities.