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  • Gareth Davies

Our Blueprint. September 2018

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Transport is a vital ingredient of our economy, our society and our future. But our current transport system is unbalanced and as such can be equally destructive of that same economy, society and our future.

The twentieth century saw the ascendancy of the private car; mass production reduced costs, high carbon fuel became plentiful and transport cost remained low. Individual transport by car became the norm.

The call was for new roads to accommodate increased car usage. Our road mileage increased dramatically. But so did congestion. No matter what the increase in road construction, increased congestion soon followed.

But as road mileage increased so public transport mileage and reliability decreased and the more money pumped into roads, the more fragile has become the economics of the public transport operator.

The new millennium is seeing evidence of a sinister dimension to the rise in car usage. It is noted that the health of the nation is deteriorating; disease through lack of exercise is increasing and the growing incidence of respiratory ailments has become definitely linked to poor air quality as a result of carbon emissions.

With exhaust emissions a now proven major cause of this malaise, movement towards declaring a climate emergency has been rapid. Action is slower in coming, but government both national and local is being forced to accept that the imbalance in our transport system needs to be addressed.

Transport is set to change. The government approach to the environmental and health issues is to make bold statements banning diesel and petrol driven vehicles by the middle of the century. The motor industry has most probably reached the limit of how far it can reduce emissions from the fossil fuel internal combustion engine.

The advance in alternative methods of propulsion, both electric and hydrogen cell is advancing but the option for the private motorist is not going to be cheap. The era of low-cost motoring may well be drawing to a close.

Yet government at all levels does not fully address the major issues of providing a comprehensive, environmental, affordable and functional alternative transport system to the use of the private car.

A sustainable system that will stand the test of time.

The Need for Transport for All

Public Transport

The Herefordshire Council Local Transport Plan (2012-2026) contains two very valid objectives

To provide a good quality transport network for all.

To ensure access to all services for those living in rural areas.

Yet public transport in Herefordshire is in a parlous state. Bus services in both rural and urban areas continue to be withdrawn.

Our train service is one of the worse in Europe with poor reliability and gross overcrowding.

Like it or not, public transport will have to take on a much-increased future role in our county in order to provide a good quality transport network for all.

The time to consider and implement new public transport initiatives is now, not when forced upon us.

  • Sustainable Transport Herefordshire is identifying the need for and structure of new integrated small town and rural bus networks together with innovative low cost light rail and electric bus schemes in the small city environment and economy.

  • The needs of the elderly, the young and the disabled people are acknowledged as vital in future public transport planning and availability.

The Need for A Very Healthy Option

Cycling and Walking

The Herefordshire Council Local Transport Plan (2012-2026) contains a very valid objective.

To promote healthy lifestyles.

Whilst the average journey made by car in the city and small towns is of two miles or less, cycling and walking must be considered as a healthy alternative.

Yet the ability to use these simple and effective modes of transport is severely hindered by one main factor - safety.

  • Sustainable Transport Herefordshire is working towards a plan for safe segregated cycle/walk routes and network in the city and small town environment.

  • There is also growing need on road safety grounds to consider a blanket 20mph speed limit for unclassified roads in country areas that also form principal cycle routes.

The Need for Integrated Land Use/

Transport Planning and Implementation

The Herefordshire Council Local Transport Plan (2012-2026) contains a very valid objective.

To enable economic growth.

Economic growth is stimulated by the integration of land use with a quality environmental, low-cost transport system.

Modern industry is footloose, no longer dependant on large volumes of heavy commercial vehicle movements. The thrust of the new Enterprise Zone is to attract high tech industries.

Access to the site was improved with the Rotherwas Link Road providing a good link to the motorway network starting at Ross and hence to the West Midlands and South Wales.

The provision of this road has however failed to generate the economic growth and industry relocation that was anticipated.

The missing ingredient in this plan is a city worth relocating to. A city with a good environment and within which there is an ease of affordable movement for all ages.

  • Sustainable Transport Herefordshire works to improve all aspects of connectivity within the city and in particular the importance of all public transport links within Herefordshire and with the greater region.

  • It is essential there is a move away from bypassing the city to concentrating attention on improving and marketing it as the place to relocate.

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