The board of the West Midlands Combined Authority has approved a draft of the core strategy for the region’s fifth Local Transport Plan (LTP). The document, being put together by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), sets out the overall aims, vision and approach that will map out the development and delivery of transport policies until the end of 2041.
The plan seeks to address what it terms the ‘challenges and opportunities’ currently facing the region’s transport system. After decades of under investment, the document states, the region is beginning to turn things around. But that significant challenges remain in “tackling the defining issues of our time”, such as climate change, air quality, health issues and the recovery from the pandemic.
The LTP maintains that climate emergency presents a “particularly unique challenge” in that there is a “definitive pace of progress that needs to be made”, otherwise, it states, “we will lose the ability to prevent escalating harm.”
Mike Waters, director of policy, strategy and innovation for TfWM, said: “Meeting the climate change challenge and our net zero-carbon targets are very much at the heart of this draft Local Transport Plan core strategy – if we carry on business as usual we are not going to achieve what we need to. Our new LTP sets out what we need to do to achieve that, as well as continuing to support the local economy and improve the health of the region.”
The backbone of the strategy removes arounds five so called ‘Motives for Change’ including the creation of a fairer society, sustaining economic success, supporting local communities, becoming more active and tackling the climate emergency.
The latest LTP document follows last year’s publication of a Green Paper called ‘Reimagining Transport’ which was used for a major public consultation, the result of which have been integrated into the current draft core strategy.
A main plank of the strategy is the creation of 15 neighbourhoods within 45 minute regions based on a combination of walking, wheeling and riding travel option that require neither a car nor a driving licence.
The switch to zero emission vehicles, the document states, whilst positive and important, “will not deliver substantial reductions in carbon emissions for several years and will not address the wider aims of the strategy.
Behaviour change, it maintains, is essential for “doing our bit to address the climate emergency.” In an effort to reinforce the behaviour change message the strategy has three main themes, including avoiding travel through land use changes and digital connectively, shifting travel from the car to more active modes and redesigning street and public realm. Finally, the strategy looks to improve travel by encouraging more efficient driving and the use of technology, including electric vehicles.
Among other things the document talks about the use of mobility hubs, which will bring together various transport modes into one place and micromobility, which provides a more sustainable and affordable travel options. There could also be more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, which have been expanded during the Covid-19 crisis using emergency powers.
Public transport in the region is already getting greener following the introduction of electric buses and more recently a fleet of Hydrogen buses, being used on the first of the long-awaited Sprint rapid transit bus routes.
A public consultation of the draft LTP will start on 7 February 2022.
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