Our vision for the future of transport in West Yorkshire
Our vision for transport goes beyond getting people from A to B. It’s about getting all of us – our people, our communities, our businesses – to where we want to be as a region.
We have a CLEAR vision for transport in West Yorkshire
We believe that every trip matters. Getting to school, college or nursery; commuting to work or connecting with friends; shopping, exploring or simply being active. From your doorstep, the world should open up. You should be able to take your pick from walking routes and cycleways to high speed connections that can take you as far as you want to go.
Our ambitious plans are shaped around a clean and connected region, one that puts walking and cycling at the heart of our everyday journeys. We want to make better transport choices inclusive and accessible to everyone, and use everyday journeys as a way to give people more chances in life, to make our region a fairer place to be.
We want to make our transport system much easier, both to use and to understand. So easy in fact that taking quick, joined-up journeys becomes second nature for us all.
A new mass transit system for West Yorkshire will be a key element, linking communities with a quick and reliable service and integrated with cycling, walking, bus and rail. This will represent a bold investment; a transformational transport system that will benefit many generations to come.
We held a public engagement on the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan during 2021, and have since updated our Plan to reflect the feedback received. You can view the engagement report and find out more at: www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/connectivity
What does this mean for our transport system?
We are setting out a vision for rail services that significant increases capacity, connectivity and reliability and integrates with bus, mass transit, cycling and walking to connect people to work, education and leisure locally, regionally, nationally – and even internationally.
The bus service is already relied upon by people across West Yorkshire to connect them with work, education and leisure. We want to go further to create a bus service that is a first-choice travel option for all our communities, encouraging people out of their cars, cutting congestion and improving air quality.
Mass transit is key to delivering our vision for a low carbon and connected region. Alongside cycling and walking, and bus and rail, mass transit is essential to help our communities thrive and our economy to flourish, bringing people and places closer together.
Walking & cycling
Making more journeys more sustainable means more people accessing bus or train on foot or by bike, and it also means making walking and cycling the natural choice for short, everyday journeys.
Read our review of how transport technology and innovation can improve lives and reduce carbon emissions.
- Why are you publishing this plan?
We are setting out a clear vision for the future of transport in West Yorkshire and its role in supporting our ambitions for our region in terms of improving standards of living and tackling the climate emergency. We have done detailed work to understand how and where people will live, work and access services in the coming years and the communities we need to better connect. This plan is about how transport can ensure all our communities have access to those opportunities.
- Why publish now when everything is so uncertain?
While confronting the COVID-19 pandemic is our focus now, we also need to ensure we are doing all we can to accelerate the region’s recovery. Planning and delivering transport improvements, which will be key to our recovery, takes a long time (the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan covers the next 20 years) so it is important we continue to progress plans while also being alive to the long-term changes the pandemic may bring about.
- Are the plans based on pre-covid growth assumptions in travel?
COVID-19 has led to significant changes in the way people travel and while some of these changes may be long-term there are also significant indications that when we emerge from the pandemic, we will return to long-term trends in terms of travel behaviour and demand.
Our Connectivity Infrastructure Plan is a starting point, not an end. Our plans will continue to develop over time taking into account the emerging longer-term implications of COVID-19.
- How did you decide what should be built where?
We have carried out a series of 24 studies covering the whole of West Yorkshire looking at where people live, work and access services now, how that will change in the coming years and identifying how we need to invest in the transport network to ensure all have access to opportunity. These proposals are a starting point around which we are seeking views and will continue to be developed.
- What is mass transit?
Mass transit is a large-scale public transport system in a metropolitan area. Typically, Mass transit would use one or more of modern high-capacity buses, trams and tram-train vehicles.
We are seeking views on whether we are connecting the right places by mass transit and on the potential technologies which are most likely to be appropriate for West Yorkshire.
- How much will it cost?
Mass Transit is likely to have a high cost, but also deliver substantial benefits to West Yorkshire. It is clear it will require additional Government funding to support its delivery and the West Yorkshire devolution deal provides the region with access to the Government’s £4.2bn fund for urban transport and we will be submitting proposals to secure a significant share.
- What kind of technology will it use?
Last year 120 organisations responded to our world-wide call for industry expertise on how a mass transit system might be developed and delivered. Building on the advice we received from industry, in the Mass Transit 2040 Vision we describe the blend of technologies which are most likely to meet the needs of our region.
Subject to feedback through this engagement and the ongoing development work, our proposals are for a blend of these technologies for be delivered for the nine areas where we have suggested the system could operate.
- When will it be built and when will we be able to travel on it?
Our ability to truly accelerate the delivery of these ambitious proposals is subject to long term certainty over funding and the strength of the business case. The Mass Transit vision document (Pages 44-45) sets out the ambitious plans and proposes that construction of a first phase of starting by 2025-26, with it in operation by 2028-29.
- How did you decide where should be on the mass transit network?
We have carried out a series of studies looking at where people live, work and access services now, how that will change in the coming years and identifying how we meet the demand created by housing and jobs growth as well as improving connections for those in the most deprived areas. Mass transit will be part of the solution, but our plans also include proposals on rail, bus, cycling and walking to make sure all our communities are connected.
We have identified nine areas that could be served by mass transit and further work will now take place to look more closely at the precise route a mass transit system might follow in those areas and the most effective way to deliver the system.
- What about places not on the proposed mass transit network?
Mass transit will be just one part of our integrated transport network. Our Connectivity Infrastructure Plan sets out how walking, cycling, bus, rail and mass transit will be integrated to connect all our communities.
- What are the implications for roads?
We are not anti-car or against new road building – some new roads will be needed to open up sites for housing and jobs growth, and road network improvements will be prioritised where they deliver junction and roundabout improvements to improve safety and traffic flow for cars, buses, cyclists and pedestrians - but we propose a pause on developing new road schemes where the only beneficiary is the private vehicle. New roads must work for all road users.
Our Plan proposes an approach to the design of roads informed by an understanding of the importance of a road’s place and movement functions, and the mix and balance of different transport modes – this will provide a framework for making decisions that balance competing demands for limited road space.
Roads already being planned/developed will be assessed for their impacts. The Combined Authority is developing a carbon impact assessment toolkit which will be used to assess schemes as they progress through our assurance process.
- How has the Plan developed since 2021?
We held a public engagement on the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan during 2021. Details of the public and stakeholder engagement undertaken to support the development of the Plan and proposed amendments to the Plan resulting from engagement were reported to Combined Authority in December 2021. An engagement report has been produced and is available on the dedicated Your Voice page: www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/connectivity
Following the feedback from the engagement and its consideration by the Combined Authority, the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan has been updated in line with the recommendations.
This includes a greater importance on the role of tackling climate change, inclusive growth and building an accessible and fit for purpose transport network for all. Additionally, the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan has been updated to ensure that the Plan reaffirms our ambition for small towns and suburban areas to have the improved transport access and opportunity as well as larger towns and cities.
Finally, the plan has been updated to include reference to the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan. The feedback on additional places to connect and suggestions for public transport improvements has been considered and will inform the next stages of both the Connectivity Infrastructure Plan and the Mass Transit vision.