Cllr Judith Blake stresses importance of local transport investment to North of England summit

Cllr Judith Blake stresses importance of local transport investment to North of England summit

Cllr Judith Blake has stressed the importance of investing in local transport links alongside major intercity connections in a speech to the North of England Transport Summit.

Cllr Blake, who leads on transport for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is Leader of Leeds City Council, set out how the Leeds Public Transport Improvement Programme is supporting improved bus services in the city and the achievements of the Bus 18 partnership bringing together the Combined Authority and bus operators.

Maximising economic opportunity

In her speech, Cllr Blake said a range of studies have shown that improving transport links is �central to unlocking the North�s economy and maximising economic opportunity�.

Cllr Blake said: �Transport links in the North are significantly constrained. Networks are increasingly becoming crowded and congested, journeys are slow and unreliable and the infrastructure provision is relatively dated which provides limited capacity to accommodate growth.

�Together these factors contribute to the fundamental challenge of limited connectivity between major economic centres in the North.�

Cllr Blake said together HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail would �provide an opportunity that will signify a step change in the provision of transport in the North�.

Capacity

She continued:��In planning for this growth and major intercity rail connectivity it is important that the bus and local rail networks are responsive and have the capacity to cater for high volumes of trips over a medium distance across our urban areas.

�Programmes such as the Transforming Cities Fund are critical to this so that we can make sure we invest in our infrastructure to provide the highway capacity needed to enable the mass movement of people.�

Technological advances

Cllr Blake set out the ambitions for the more formal partnership with bus operators to be established in the New Year including taking advantage of technological advances, improving air quality and connecting communities to employment opportunities.

She said:��Overall, we have a great opportunity in West Yorkshire to fundamentally change how we connect our transport network to the wider north. For us to maximise the benefits from this opportunity, we must make sure our local transport network has the capacity and the flexibility to respond.

�A key part of this is to build on our working relationship and momentum with the bus operators and reverse the decline in bus patronage.

�It is critically important that we have a bus network that is integrated with the other modes across the region and beyond to make sure we can maximise the potential that we have for economic growth across the North.�