CARDIFF COUNCIL GREEN PAPER -CHANGING HOW WE MOVE AROUND A GROWING CITY
A CARDIFF CIVIC SOCIETY PERSPECTIVE
The green paper is a welcome step forward in the transport debate, linking growth, urban planning and future transport. The objectives appear two fold :-
- To gauge public opinion on the need for change, and the acceptability of various improvements and restrictions that might be made.
- To ask for ideas that can be taken forward into a proposal for action.
CCS hopes all city residents will complete the survey contained within the Green Paper, the closing date is 1st July.
A transport plan is long overdue – the LDP approved over 2 years ago had everything to say about growth but nothing substantial to say about the environment or the transport network. The council target of a White Paper in the Autumn of 2018 to specify changes to the transport network is a very important milestone.
CCS co-sponsored a seminar at Cardiff University on transport options in April 2018 and our views here are based on the output published on our website. Our previous work also in the form of green papers are also published there and informed our input to LDP consultations.
The 6 main sections of the Green Paper, with our observations, are
- The Future of the Metro and Buses.
We are soon to learn what Metro has in store for us, providing a regional network to bring people into the city and a limited service within the city itself. This long awaited initiative will bring major benefits to the region, which needs a transport network up to the job of delivering the City Deal objectives. The three ideas of bus service realignment, integrated ticketing and zero carbon buses are worthy but not enough. The government has been at pains recently to reduce expectations of quick benefits so the existing inadequate bus service needs more than realignment; a massive increase in capacity and reach to the new developments in the NW and NE is needed. Integrated ticketing makes travel easy; it is already in widespread use. Buses are a notorious source of pollution, so an electric future is essential.
- Active Healthy City.
This is a good idea, and follows best practice in benchmark European cities, but is not enough to solve the congestion that exists and will grow with the city. Active travel is not easy to adopt for all ages, all phases of life, all job types, all journey types, all distances or all weathers so uptake will quickly plateau. Once the new developments are inhabited, the ‘tsunami’ of people descending on the city to work that was forecast in the council debate on this topic in October will overload the narrow entry streets. The 20mph zone is difficult to observe and is unpopular but is necessary and something we must all get used to.
- Clean Air City.
A clean air city is vital, literally. The work by Dr. Tom Porter included in the seminar has had a major influence on our thinking. The poor air quality around the city represents a public health crisis that must be fixed; active travel will help but is not enough. The clean air zone is an excellent proposal, but the means of achieving it are not. Although we have in the past advocated control of access by road access charging, however it is charged, we no longer see this as a complete solution. We see this as a regressive tax that, in the short term, will hit those unable to purchase a zero-emission vehicle. In the longer term, only a decade or so away, the take up of electric powered vehicles will explode as the market responds to bans of conventional car sales. This will reveal the true enemy of a workable city – congestion.
An extensive car free zone supported by enhanced, electric powered public transport and by external parking is the better and sustainable option. This would offer up a host of initiatives to reclaim the city streets for people and parking lots for useful development and public space. This zone should start in the city centre and expand progressively as public services take an increasing load from an expanded network of park & rides. This will be difficult as routeing around the centre is complicated by the parks; closing Castle Street for example would be a major benefit to the city but involve ‘red routes’ around to the south.
Making the city easy to navigate in a clean healthy environment will be a benchmark that will attract economic benefits. A simple charging regime for existing residents and businesses within the zone would limit access to a minimum; some vehicle access is needed for service vehicles and public transport but a shift towards electric power will mitigate most of the negative effects.
Active travel will play a part, and public services and buildings should set the standard.
- Business, Work and Culture.
The regional network is essential, and we look to the Metro to provide this, we have high expectations of this initiative. An inner-city transport network to complement Metro is needed, adoption of the new autonomous vehicle technology will meet this need.
A high-quality environment will attract high quality jobs.
- The Future of Cars.
The evidence presented at the seminar suggests that we are on the cusp of major technological change, and that electric vehicles (EV) and autonomous vehicles (AV) will dominate the market from 2025. This applies to all types and sizes of vehicles, including buses. Petrol stations will have to diversify or fail, and battery charging/exchange is one option available. Car clubs will help if the rental companies offer the range, quantity, price and rapid availability of vehicles needed. Evidence from Paris suggests however that Uber style taxis and scooters have taken the market from short term rent self-drive cars; this would reduce the effectiveness of car clubs too. This trend will accelerate with AV taxis and small buses which offer a very competitive future.
The future lies in adoption of AV technology as soon as the current trials demonstrate capability for urban use. Cardiff should volunteer for trials as soon as possible.
- Smart City.
We fully support the adoption of smart city technology. A project to enable and adopt EV and AV should be initiated now.
CCS supports the thrust of the Green Paper proposals but is convinced that they do not go far enough to resolve the air quality crisis in a sustainable way.
Metro is a vital component of regional transport and needs to be complemented by a city centre network to eliminate the need for car access.
Charging for access is a regressive form of tax and will not solve the air quality issue for long. CCS previously advocated congestion charging but the scale of the air quality crisis and its impact on public health has caused us to reconsider. In the medium term it is congestion that is the issue. We prefer a solution based on car exclusion zones, progressively enlarged, enabled by excellent public transport. A simplified form of access charge is appropriate for existing inner-city residents and businesses as an extension of the residents parking charges scheme.
The prize of clean air and congestion free streets is worth fighting for, we must reclaim and reengineer the streets for us. Service and public transport vehicles are regrettably essential and, with existing inner-city residents and businesses, should ideally be the only users of city streets.
Embracing the emerging technology is of benefit to us all. All public transport should be EV by 2030.
The public health crisis is a lever for behavioural change that should be exploited.
We expect the green paper results will support change to be delivered through a white paper in the autumn. After consultation this will determine urban plans for the next phase.
CARDIFF CIVIC SOCIETY