The Welsh Government has published Llwybr Newydd – The Wales Transport Strategy 2021. The document will shape transport in the country for 20 years and it forms part of the pathway to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Increasing public transport’s modal share is a key aim of the Strategy. One of the document’s other priorities is to reduce the need to travel. It says the latter will be accomplished by bringing services to people. That will involve more support for remote working and locating new public buildings closer to where the population lives.
When that reduction in demand is not possible, the Strategy advocates a shift away from the car towards other means. The Welsh Government wants to see 45% of journeys made by cycling, public transport or walking by 2040. The estimated current share of those modes in Wales is 32%. To improve the attractiveness of public transport, it has committed to:
- Improving public transport’s frequency, reliability and safety and extending its geographic reach
- Making switching between modes, including active travel, public transport and taxis, easier
- Ensuring that public transport services comply with legal and policy requirements on accessibility
- Simplifying fares
- Delivering more flexible bus services
- Involving users in the design of new services
- Reviewing concessionary fares schemes to encourage modal shift to public transport, including extending them to “those who most need it.”
In addition, infrastructure changes will be made to support modal shift.
The Welsh Government also says that it will expand the role of Transport for Wales and it will develop a framework for “fair and equitable” road user charging.
While the document does not specifically say that income from any road user charging scheme would go towards public transport, it does outline that such a step would be “part of a broader package of measures to improve travel choices.”
Instead, the Strategy discloses that “new revenue sources” will be used to fund “large improvements” to public transport. However, an ‘easy read’ version suggests that public transport use in Wales exists only because some people lack cars. That sentiment is not echoed in the full document.
A firm commitment is made that over the coming five years, the Welsh Government will “roll out technology and infrastructure to deliver ultra-low-emissions buses.” By 2040, all buses in Wales will be zero-emission, the Strategy continues.
Recently formed trade body the Coach and Bus Association Cymru (CaBAC) has responded positively to the Strategy. Chair Scott Pearson says the Association “looks forward to working with our partners in the Welsh Government and local authorities and with other key stakeholders to help to achieve the aims set out in A New Wales Transport Strategy 2021.”
Adds Mr Pearson: “It shows how sustainable transport is at the heart of Welsh Government policy and it points the way to how coach and bus operators can be key to achieving modal shift and helping to reduce emissions.”
Full strategy here.