Inadequate planning and funding is hindering the quality of public transport
The House of Lords Built Environment Committee has spent the past nine months looking at how public transport in towns and cities outside London can be improved.
It is clear that many urban areas in England have worse access to regular, reliable and high-quality public transport services than is seen in, say London.
In our report, Public Transport in Towns and Cities, published today, we call on the government to reform how public transport is funded, planned for and delivered.
The end of pandemic support funding for bus services could see bus cuts of up to 20 per cent
In the short term, the end of pandemic support funding for bus services, expected in March 2023, could see bus cuts of up to 20 per cent. Reductions to this degree risk a downward spiral of reducing demand and would hit the poorest hardest. We urge the government to indicate a timetable for decision-making and to set out its vision for what post-pandemic bus services will look like and how they are to be maintained.
Looking to the future, too much public transport funding requires local authorities to bid for pots of money from central government. This is costly, resource intensive and inefficient. Smaller authorities can miss out on funding, as can the areas in greatest need of levelling up. Moving to a system of periodic block grants could encourage more long-term transport delivery and enable those with local knowledge to make the decisions.
Inadequate processes for coordinating spatial and transport integration have resulted in many new homes built in places without access to public transport. The government should place local plans and transport plans on the same timetables to enable better coordination.
We also call on the government to make clear its position on targets for reductions in trips by private car and the evidence backing them up.
There is no shortage of demand on the public purse – but overlooking public transport could negatively affect our towns and cities. We heard that people chose to use public transport if they considered it reliable, punctual, safe, convenient and good value for money. Ensuring that stations and interchanges are safe and well-lit should also be a priority so that everyone – especially women – feel safe when they travel.
We will continue to monitor these issues and look forward to considering the government’s response.
Lord Moylan, Conservative peer and chair of the Lords Built Environment Committee.
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.