Greens welcome transport policy – but it needs real targets

A line of buses parked in parallel

Greens have welcomed a paper for cross party scrutiny of Transport policy (Tues May 21st), but are pressing for measures and targets to be spelt out, accusing the council of ‘treading water’ for the past 15 months’ despite the urgency of tackling dwindling bus services and growing congestion. 

Green Transport spokeperson Andy D’Agorne will quote from the draft Transport Strategy approved by the Lib Dem/Green administration in Feb 2023

which stated that a 20% reduction in car use would need to be delivered through the draft strategy with a target of doubling of walking and cycling and a 50% increase in bus use by 2030.

Andy D’Agorne says “with the exception of further studies and unpublished consultants reports, this council has largely been treading water since then while it undertook the ‘Big Transport Consultation” 

He will suggest that cross party scrutiny should examine recent failures to make a real difference on implementing meaningful alternatives to car use.

 Instances that he suggests merit cross-party scrutiny include:

Tadcaster Rd active travel project – ran out of funds leaving the most critical pinch points for cycling to and from Copmanthorpe /Askham Bog. 

£17m Bus Service Improvement Plan, where the Enhanced Partnership has yet to publish a long term strategy to reverse the ongoing decline in local services (including cuts this week to the no 13 route)

Just 10 months funding window is now left to implement millions of pounds worth in bus priority measures that have not yet even been consulted on, despite £100k being spent for preliminary design work since Jan 2023 (ref: Enhanced Partnership minutes Kan 20th 2023) 

Further delay to the publication of a strategy for walking and cycling (LCWIP) which has been ‘on ice’ since Dec 2023, leading to York missing out on Active Travel England capital funding this year. Over £1m ATE funding to upgrade the riverside path from Jubilee Terrace to Scarborough Bridge remains unspent, having been granted to the council just before the elections last year. 

Andy has welcomed the change of Executive Member along with the election of a Labour Mayor for the new combined authority, saying he is hopeful this marks a turning point in delivering better bus services and safe cycle routes within York in the near future. 

At the scrutiny meeting Andy D’Agorne, York Green Party transport spokesperson, said:

Firstly, York Green Party welcomes progress towards a new Transport Strategy for York, to deliver on challenging targets in the 2022 Climate Change Strategy. To quote from the draft transport strategy that the Lib Dem /Green Executive approved 15 months ago, this requires “a 71% reduction in emissions from transport, with many UK councils concluded car use will need to fall by around 20%”

 It goes on:

“Current post covid trends are showing a return to car travel which will have to be reversed through a major shift towards more active travel and use of public transport. This needs to be delivered through the agreed Strategy. To reduce car use by 20% it’s likely that walking and cycling rates will have to double and bus use will have to increase by 50%”

So all this was in the policy 15 months ago. With the exception of further studies and unpublished consultants reports, this council has been largely treading water since then, while it carried out the further ‘Big Transport Consultation’ reported today.

 To quote York Cycle Campaign’s year old challenge to politicians and council officers in their excellent ‘42 ways’ manifesto : “Its time to be brave and think big – for politicians to come up with an actual strategy that puts people first not vehicles. It is the job of officers to implement it.”

So, is this now the answer to that challenge, even though likely impact of this step change has yet to be spelt out to the electorate and businesses? If this committee wants serious scrutiny of actions to date implementing transport measures I would suggest:

 Tadcaster Rd – ran out of funds before delivering the most critical pinch points for cycling to and from Copmanthorpe,

Bus Service Improvement Plan none of the planned bus priority even consulted on, with just 10 months of the funding window remaining. We are still in managed decline with further bus cuts this week. It was right to use BSIP funds for short term plans to retain routes to communities but the so-called Enhanced Partnership has so far failed to create a long term strategy to reverse decline and secure tangible improvements to punctuality and viability.  

Still no draft let alone adopted Local Cycling and Walking Plan, resulting in zero capital funds this year from Active Travel England (made worse by not a single spade in the ground on the Jubilee Terrace riverside route for which we were awarded over £1m in Mar 23, for a ‘shovel ready’ scheme).

I do hope the advent of a new Transport Executive Member and a Labour Mayor for N Yorkshire will mark a turning point, enabling this administration to deliver on its mandate to actually deal with the climate change and transport challenges we face in York.

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