New thinking on transport needed

GlynCeiriogJaneOVER 1 in 5 IN WREXHAM HAVE NO ACCESS TO PRIVATE TRANSPORT

The Welsh Government should consider introducing a Total Transport policy, incorporating all transport provision across the regions in order to ensure that everybody has access to key services and centres, according to Plaid Cymru – The Party Of Wales Clwyd South candidate, Mabon ap Gwynfor.

Mabon ap Gwynfor called on the Welsh Government to set-up pilot projects in north east Wales to see if such a scheme would be successful before rolling it out nationally. He cited the Total Transport pilot in England, with large pilot schemes in Cheshire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire as examples of how this could be developed in Wales.

Millions of pounds is currently being spent each year on transport provision by various agencies for local transport funds in Wales. However these schemes are not always coordinated or integrated, resulting in duplication and waste. Mr ap Gwynfor says that at a time when bus services were being cut and many people were without access to private transport the Government has to come up with an idea to ensure that people can access vital services . He also said that public transport should be encouraged, especially in light of other Government policies to get people fitter, reduce dependency on cars, and for older people to live independently.

Mabon ap Gwynfor’s says that budgets and fleets of vehicles could be pooled, and that transport should be a cross-cutting theme, taken into account when discussing other issues, such as health and education.

Mabon ap Gwynfor said, “Public transport is reaching crisis point, especially in the less urban areas. Wrexham Council have cut 100% of their subsidised bus routes, and Denbighshire cut 40% this year according to the Campaign for Better Transport. Because of the fact that other budgets are protected, transport suffers more. However the net effect of this is that not only can some people, the less well-off mainly – not reach some key services and centres, other policy goals fail as well, such as the ambition to enable older people to retain their independence longer, or encouraging people to walk more. We have care homes closing on the premise that people want to live independently, yet bus route are closing. Young people are being encouraged to take up apprenticeships or study more in Colleges, yet there’s no way for some of them to travel.

“According to the 2011 census 22% of people in Wrexham have no access to private transport, while another 42% only have 1 car or van in the household. In this day and age when both spouses are either in work or need to be in work, this means that a huge number of people in Wrexham are dependent on public transport or walking in order to get to work. This isn’t so easy if you live in areas like the Ceiriog Valley, the Garth, or Penley. A fully integrated transport system, taking in every mode of public transport available, with cross departmental and cross boundary planning, would help alleviate the crisis that public transport is facing , and ensure that more people have access to their doctors, libraries, shops and job centres”.

Mabon’s call echoes that made by the Campaign for Better Transport’s calls when it published its report, ‘Buses in Crises – A Report On Bus Funding Across England And Wales 2010-2016’. Under the Campaign’s recommendations for the Welsh Government it state, “Following the emerging success of the Total Transport pilots across 37 English local authorities the Welsh Government should adopt their own Total Transport scheme. This approach will be of particular benefit to more rural areas, bringing together different transport services in an area.

“Such separate commissioning of transport wastes significant funding and management time and takes funding and passengers from mainstream public transport services. So why not bring them all together? Total Transport allows existing resources to be allocated and coordinated more efficiently resulting in services for passengers that are more effective.

“There are good examples in the Netherlands of where Total Transport has been used successfully to improve public transport for urban and rural areas. The results and evidence are already starting to come in from the current English Total Transport pilots and case studies and examples of best practice will be available for the Welsh Government to use and adopt accordingly.”

Mabon ap Gwynfor said that in the Netherlands some provinces have franchised whole networks, pooling together social, health, education and public transport budgets and services into one package. “We shouldn’t be afraid to learn from the experiences of others. Why re-invent the wheel? Other communities have similar problems, so we should look to positively engage with them and see how we can learn from their best practices,” said Mabon ap Gwynfor.

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