When Transport for the North becomes the UK’s first Sub-National Transport Body in a few days’ time there will be a lot to celebrate. Transport for the North’s specific role is to be a statutory partner to the Department for Transport, Highways England, and Network Rail to ensure that pan-Northern strategic transport priorities are delivered. This partnership working is exactly what we need to ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
That was one of the key outcomes of a recent Transport Knowledge Hub event in the North which brought together all the key regional players to discuss how we can share best practice and ideas and make transformational local transport plans fit for the future that make a difference cheaply and quickly.
As well as the importance of partnership working across the whole of the North, our event also discussed how we could change the way we describe transport investments. As a sector we are used to hearing statistics – such as the amount of money invested in a new road or the number of minutes cut off a rail journey or the number of new buses driving around the North. But how often do we hear about the difference that transport investment makes to people’s lives? Hardly ever.
We need to be talking about more efficient roads that enable people to get back from visiting family more cost effectively. We need to be talking about business meetings made possible because of more trains and faster journey times. Businesses growing because transport operators are talking to each other and linking up passengers when they pass over local authority borders. Wifi on buses encouraging young people to keep using buses after their studies. Smart ticketing and contactless payments so you don’t need the exact change to catch the bus. CCTV giving confidence that everyone can use public transport safely and reducing loneliness.
If we improve the way to explain transport investment, and translate that into language that the public can easily understand, we can win hearts and minds of both local communities and funders to make transformational transport investment that will benefit all of us in the future.
About the Author
This post was written by Claire Haigh. Founder & CEO of Greener Vision & Executive Director of the Transport Knowledge Hub. Claire was previously CEO of Greener Transport Solutions (2021-2022) and CEO of Greener Journeys (2009-2020).