How do we persuade people to use public transport over their own cars?
That was the burning question at the Transport-led Development conference held in the Welsh capital last week. Business leaders and academics across the transport sector gathered to hear presentations and get involved in debates around the future of transport development in Wales.
Professor Stuart Cole CBE, Emeritus Professor of Transport at the University of South Wales began proceedings as Morning Chair, and delivered a presentation on the implications around the decision of scrapping the M4 Relief Road. He told the delegates that rejecting the proposed black route was inevitable for Mark Drakeford due to the cost implications, environmental and ecological impact and the lack of public interest in the route.
Ken Skates is set to introduce short term, fast tracked interventions to ease the issues surrounding the stretch of motorway. Public transport investment was presented by Professor Cole as the obvious alternative for South East Wales, as well as investment into Cardiff Airport’s arrivals zone and front of the building.
Transport for Wales Opportunities and Challenges
Professor Cole then introduced Geoff Ogden, Executive Director for Corporate Services at Transport for Wales, to speak about the opportunities and challenges facing the company. Geoff also detailed recent successes and future plans for Transport for Wales as the company works towards its target of 95% of passengers’ journeys taking place on new, higher capacity trains by 2023.
The morning concluded with presentations from Kevin Collins, Route Delivery Director (Wales) at Network Rail who discussed the work undertaken following recent storms on the Conwy Valley line, and Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity at Cardiff University who spoke about the importance of transport oriented development in the Cardiff Capital Region.
Once again the key message was that retrofitting transport connectivity is problematic, and that instead planners should be looking to build public transport networks and then building the infrastructure [hospitals, schools, shopping centres etc.] around such networks. People are using private transport methods often as they cannot solely rely on public transport as there is a lack of connectivity. Even if you take a train to a certain location, the likelihood is that you would then have a further journey to make.
One answer to this was active travel.
The introduction of nextbike to the capital was praised, and questions were raised around the feasibility of introducing more bike stations further from the city centre.
Delegates also heard from Christian Bocci, Partner at Weston Williamson + Partners who demonstrated examples of best practice within the area of transport planning, and offered plenty of suggestions as to how Wales could learn from projects further afield.
A lively panel discussion rounded off the day, with Robin Miller-Stott, Senior Strategy Officer at Transport for the North, Christine Boston, Director for Wales at the Community Transport Association and Christian Bocci fielding questions from the delegates.
The messaging that was apparent throughout the conference was that there needs to be more investment into transport-led development and active travel to discourage private transport methods and reduce congestion problems such as that of the M4, and within our city centres.
But how do we persuade people to use public transport over their own cars?
The question is yet to be answered.
More About Beth Perry
Beth is a first language Welsh speaker with a passion for writing and a savvy working of social media. She holds an MA degree in International PR and Global Communications Management at Cardiff and is an integral part of the editorial team at Business News Wales.