William Eichler 29 November 2023

Million more public transport commuters needed, think-tank says

Million more public transport commuters needed, think-tank says image
Image: Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock.com

The largest cities in Britain should aim to boost the number of public transport commuters by nearly one million to reduce congestion and pollution, a think-tank has said.

The UK is ‘well behind’ the rest of Europe when it comes to the number of people taking a bus, train or tram to work, according to a new report from Centre for Cities.

According to Gear shift: International lessons for increasing public transport ridership in UK cities, 16% of Manchester residents and 18% of Birmingham residents commute to work using public transport, compared to 40% in Hamburg and 33% in Lyon, two European cities of similar size.

By increasing the number of people using public transport by an additional 963,000, British cities will see a reduction in congestion and pollution, and a boost for local urban economies, the think-tank says.

Centre for Cities calls for an improvement in residential density and the use of Local Development Orders to create new mid-rise developments near public transport stops.

It also says that the responsibilities for running a city’s public transport services should be brought together under one body similar to Transport for London.

Andrew Carter, chief executive at Centre for Cities, said: ‘What these policy recommendations are aiming for is finding that extra gear so we can bring more people into our city centres during working hours, quicker and, preferably, cheaper too.

‘In order to get there and find that extra gear, we need to look at different policy measures from around the world, look at how they are funded, look at where we can bring in extra revenues, and do that in ways that also help us invest in our public transport networks for the long term.

‘What you see in other big cities around the world is more people take public transport and the network is serving its purpose in the regional economy: large cities can use their space more efficiently and a greater number of workers can reach the city-centre to access opportunities there.

‘Transport has huge implications for the UK’s route to achieving net zero carbon emissions, too.’

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