Leeds mass transit network presents 'unparalleled opportunity' for city - Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy

A commitment to developing the mass transit network that has eluded Leeds to date is among the 'big moves' set out in a council vision for the future of transport in the city.

Sunday, 17th January 2021, 4:45 pm

The draft Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy notes that if transport capacity into the city centre during the peak period is insufficient, it could constrain city centre employment by restricting labour supply and holding back development.

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Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy sets out vision for city without the need fo...

It says: "Mass transit can fill the gap in public transport provision between bus services and heavy rail, adding capacity to the key corridors within the city region, making it easier for more people to access more jobs.

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The tram system created in Edinburgh is among the case studies featured in the Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire

"A city region mass transit solution will deliver the right blend of technology, priority and capacity to move high volumes of people in the parts of our transport network where demand is greatest. This is a crucial missing element of our transport investment pipeline for corridors where heavy rail is not an option and the capacity of bus network solutions is insufficient."

The scale of benefits of a new mass transit network and the potential to adopt the latest technologies are described as presenting an "unparalleled opportunity for Leeds, the city region, the north and the UK".

According to the strategy report, the council will continue to transform bus services in the short term and work in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to develop and deliver an advanced mass transit system as quickly as possible.

It suggests the timescale for work beginning would be between 2030 and 2035, meaning it will not contribute to the council's commitment to becoming carbon neutral by the end of this decade.

Coun Lisa Mulherin, executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said: "At the moment, WYCA have been exploring options. It's something that would be requiring funding."

She said she hoped the current public consultation on the strategy would show people in Leeds are in favour of the idea - and that the Government would deliver on promises made during the 2019 general election campaign.

The strategy goes on to say it will ensure the system integrates with the existing transport network to create an affordable, zero-carbon network, and it works with partners to secure the investment needed to deliver "transformational improvements to the rail network" to support such a network.

It also notes the lessons that can be learned from the way mass transit networks were developed in Edinburgh, Manchester and Nottingham, both in terms of what to avoid and what can be done over time.

The public consultation comes a year on from the launch of the Yorkshire Evening Post's Unlock the Gridlock campaign, which set out five key transport priorities in response to concerns consistently raised by readers about the congestion and unreliable public transport networks that were blighting their lives on a daily basis.

It will run until March 26, before the feedback from the public and other stakeholders is reviewed. An updated strategy is then expected to be published in early summer.

Visit leedstransportstrategy.commonplace.is/ to learn more about the proposals, read the draft strategy in full or make comments.

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