A game-changing £1bn transport vision designed to cut congestion and improve air quality in Cardiff has been revealed by the leader of Wales' capital city.
Speaking at a Welsh Government Conference on Active Travel, Cllr Huw Thomas, told delegates that the time has come for action on the city's transport needs, warning that urgent investment is needed and that the city will ‘grind to a halt' if partner agencies don't come together to transform the way people move in and around Cardiff.
Cllr Thomas said:
“Cardiff's transport network needs to change. It was originally designed for a city with a population of 200,000, but today our population is closer to 400,000 and there are another 80,000 commuters travelling into the city by car every day.
“It's clear to everyone that this situation is unsustainable. We have a network which is already creaking. It only takes one road to go down in the city for delays to ensue. We also have some of the highest levels of NO2 in Wales.
“That is why I am setting out a vision today for a greener, more sustainable city a vision which could transform the way people move around our city by 2030. It is a plan for the future of Cardiff and it affects everyone who lives here and travels here to work.
“It is clear we won't deliver this overnight, but we are today bringing forward the council's aspiration while fully recognising that we will have to work effectively with Welsh Government and other partners. We will also need to have a serious public conversation about how this vision can be funded.”
The measures include:
Cardiff Cross Rail – a new light rail/tram line from east to west connecting major population centres and new suburbs in the west with Cardiff Central
Cardiff Circle Line – a joined up complete orbital light rail/tram line linking large residential areas to the transport network
A new park and ride at junction 32 of the M4 connected to the Circle Line
A new Rapid Bus Transport Network using green and electric vehicles
New, safe cycleways and walking routes linked to bus, rail and tram networks
An integrated ticketing system allowing the user to move seamlessly from one transport mode to another.
Making Cardiff a 20mph city
Cllr Thomas said:
“This might well be our last opportunity to get transport right for Cardiff. We have consistently argued that the city's future prosperity relies on an effective transport infrastructure, with seamless access to the UK's motorway network, and free-flowing routes into, and around the city.
“Notwithstanding the recent announcement on the M4 Relief Road, it is clear that urgent investment is desperately needed in the transport infrastructure of the region. This must be seen in the wider economic context of Wales. The Cardiff Capital Region is the country's economic engine, with Cardiff alone delivering 20,000 new jobs last year into the Welsh economy. The capital sums previously earmarked for the new M4 must now be invested in South East Wales. Our vision – made real – alongside the delivery of the Metro, could fundamentally reshape the transport infrastructure in the city for the betterment of the whole region.
Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cllr Caro Wild, said:
“Get transport right and it's a game changer. It adds real impetus to a city's economic development agenda. It helps tackle inequality by better connecting people with opportunity. It improves quality of life and provides a visible pointer to the city's environmental credentials.
“Get it wrong and it signals the inevitable erosion of your economic competitiveness and a slow decay in quality of life. It's therefore hardly surprising that transport is consistently the single most important issues for residents. We now look forward to continuing to work with Welsh Government and other partners to make this game-changing investment in the city region's transport network a reality.
“This vision represents some early ideas which have followed on from last year's Transport and Clean Air Green Paper. It sets out our direction of travel. We will be bringing forward a White Paper in the autumn with more plans for the city, but we were keen for the conversation to begin now.”
How the vision is shaped:
Cardiff Cross Rail Vision
A lightrail/tram line that connects central Cardiff with major population centres to the east and west. It will include a new station at Rover Way/Newport Road, via the docks, Lloyd George Avenue and the City Line to the northwest of Cardiff and into Rhondda Cynon Taff which will:
- help transform the bay, with direct, frequent tram connections to Cardiff Central interchange. It will regenerate the link between the city centre, Bute Town, and the bay with the creation of an urban park.
- Improve rail connections and transport access for parts of Cardiff suffering economic challenges (including Splott, Tremorfa and Ely) and help bring forward further business development along the route into Rhondda Cynon Taff.
- Directly tackle the need to link major new housing sites in north-west Cardiff with the rest of Cardiff to avoid unmanageable congestion.
Cardiff Circle Line Vision
Our vision sees the creation of a complete light rail or tram Circle Line around Cardiff which will connect the Coryton line to the Taff Vale line north of Radyr. This will provide:
- Upgrading the existing Coryton and City lines to four services plus per hour in both directions
- New bus interchange station to allow changes on to different modes of transport
- Bigger pools of employment for locations such as Nantgarw and Pontypridd (not just Cardiff city centre) by making it easier for Cardiff's residents to access those locations using public transport
Bus Improvements Vision
Current bus routes require people to journey into and out of the city centre using roads that are often congested and slow moving, making bus journeys an unattractive alternative to cars
- Establish a systematic network of bus priority corridors and connections linking major new Park and Rides in strategic locations around the city perimeter with fast and comfortable routes into and across Cardiff.
- Integrate the connections, timetables and ticketing of the entire bus network and buses that serve with the enhanced metro rail and tram lines.
- New and/or improved bus and bus-rail interchange stations across the city to allow easy change from one mode to another.
- Free school bus travel for students 18 and under and discounted bus fares for job seekers
- Work with Welsh Government and Transport For Wales to provide: integrated ticketing – a single fares and ticketing system for all transport modes including rail, Metro, bus and Nextbike allowing you to buy and use the same ticket across the whole system
- New parking policy that encourages travel by public transport rather than by car
Active travel vision – cycling and walking
We know these are the greenest and healthiest ways to travel; they generate less pollution and help keep us fit. Active travel even improves productivity in children whilst in school. Currently the active travel network of safe, attractive and convenient cycle and pedestrian routes is fragmented and not complete.
- Fully integrate the network with key metro stations, schools and other primary destinations.
- Making active travel the mode of choice for accessing the Metro by providing routes for cyclists and pedestrians within an 800m radius of Metro stations and increasing station bike parking.
- Creating Child-Friendly Streets where children can access safe, healthy routes to schools, parks and sporting facilities
- Making neighbourhoods ‘active travel zones' through schemes which give walking and cycling greater priority over cars and provide attractive routes for local active journeys
- Making streets around schools safer by restricting vehicular access at drop off / pick up times enforced by using static-cameras.
- Nextbike hubs at secondary schools and recreational facilities with free travel on nextbike for under 18s.
- Redesigning road junctions and traffic light prioritisation to give more time to pedestrians and cyclists.
- Making Cardiff a 20mph city.