A £2bn transport vision designed to transform Cardiff and South East Wales’ transport network has been unveiled by Cardiff Council.
Cardiff Council’s Transport White Paper, which lays out an ambitious 10-year plan to tackle the climate emergency, reduce congestion and improve air quality in the Welsh capital, was launched this week following consultation with thousands of city residents, health and transport experts.
The White Paper lists a series of projects which could revolutionise public transport options in Cardiff and the region, including:
- Expanding current Metro plans to deliver more new tram/train routes and stations in Cardiff and the region
- Introducing new Bus Rapid Transit services and Park & Ride sites;
- Lowering the cost of bus travel significantly
- Delivering safer walking and cycling routes
- Offering real travel options designed to get people out of their cars and onto public transport.
Delivering the vision will require considered partnership working with government, Transport for Wales and other regional partners but the £2bn cost could be part-funded by a daily road-user-charging scheme, which could include an exemption for Cardiff residents, the council has revealed.
Council leader Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “The future success of Cardiff hinges on getting transport right in the city. There can’t be anyone who is happy with the current state of affairs which is why we are bringing forward this ambitious ten-year vision and why we are beginning an honest conversation about how it’s paid for.”
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport said: “Cardiff’s current transport network was designed half a century ago for a city of 200,000 people. Today, once commuters, shoppers and visitors are taken into account our city has a daily population of almost half a million. No wonder our transport network is creaking – it’s no longer fit for purpose.
“If you look at it from the point of view of the average Cardiff resident driving within the city to work every day, struggling for their bit of road space with the 80,000 other car commuters from outside the city’s boundaries then absolutely, traffic congestion, traffic pollution and a public transport system which struggles to adequately serve the people who live and work here are all issues of major concern – and so they should be.
“Right now we are living in a world where the Climate Emergency is changing how we feel about our future. It is beginning to shape our behaviour and point towards the actions we will all have to take to save the planet for our children and grandchildren. Getting our transport system right is so important for our city’s future and for our children’s future too.
“This is why I have become more and more convinced that to undertake the kind of radical change required we will need to investigate bringing in some form of charging mechanism to fund the infrastructure required in the city and the wider region.”
The right scheme could simultaneously and immediately do 4 things:
- Tackle climate change
- Reduce congestion
- Improve air quality
- Provide ring-fenced funding to invest in much-needed public transport initiatives
Cllr Wild added: “One option might be a simple, universal, £2, low-charging system applied to non-Cardiff residents who drive into the city which could reduce congestion, whilst raising money towards paying for improvements to our transport network. We need to get people out of cars and on to public transport. To do that we need to give them the best public transport options. And to do that we need to raise money to pay for them.
“As part of a robust decision making process we will consider a number of options.Our preferred option would include an exemption for Cardiff residents from any chargeand we ask you to consider the ambitious proposals in this document fully. It shows how we can make a step change in the way people travel into and around Cardiff, building on and developing Welsh Government work on the METRO ensuring we will have a transport system that really works for the city and the region.
“Road user charging isn’t the only option available to raise money and we will be looking at other options in a business case I am recommending we undertake over the next year. No charge will be put in place until that business case is completed and all options have been reviewed, including possible parking place levies and congestion zones. Crucially, we also recognise that a significant number of interventions would need to be in place to provide alternative travel options for people before any charge could be introduced and we have outlined some of those in the White Paper itself. ”
The cost to deliver the ambitious programme set out in the White Paper – which includes new park and rides, new train/tram lines and stations, rapid bus routes and segregated cycleways – is estimated at £2bn. Any income generated from a charging Scheme would be ringfenced to help deliver the projects.
Cllr Wild added: “Urgent action and bold solutions are required. Our Green Paper started a serious debate about the problems the city is facing and some potential solutions. Over 5,000 respondents, including 2,500 young people, shared their thoughts with us, alongside numerous organisations, experts and institutions. It’s clear, we can’t go on as we are. There are too many cars on our roads, our public transport isn’t good enough. Bus and train services are too infrequent. A growing number of people want to cycle but don’t feel safe. We all want cleaner air and to do our bit to combat climate change.
“We want to deliver a greener, healthier, less congested city, with an affordable public transport system that works for everyone. This will require partnership working with the region and Welsh Government on a scale unheard of before. Cities that get transport right – work. They make life easier and better for residents, commuters and visitors. Cities that get transport wrong have the opposite effect, and right now, right here, with a Climate Emergency declared, the argument for change couldn’t be any more immediate.”
The plans have received backing from health and transport experts and the Future Generations Commissioner.
Fiona Kinghorn, Executive Director of Public Health for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said “If we are serious about improving air quality, getting people more active, and tackling the climate emergency, ambitious action is required. This White Paper delivers that, and we fully support its ambition to increase walking and cycling in Cardiff, provide major enhancements to the public transport network in the City, and reduce harmful air pollution. These actions will contribute to major improvements in health in the short- and long-term to residents and visitors to Cardiff, and for future generations, and we look forward to continuing to work with Cardiff Council and partners as the plans progress.”
Mark Barry, Professor of Practice in Connectivity at Cardiff University, said: “The council’s ambition for the Cardiff Crossrail extension of the Metro demonstrates the city’s commitment to public transport and to address the climate change challenge. In the short term this means working with Transport for Wales and Welsh Government to bring forward work to deliver four trains per hour on both the City and Coryton Lines and to provide a direct link between the City Line and the Bay Line. This will provide the foundation for all future rail metro schemes across the city.”
Sophie Howe, The Future Generations Commissioner, said, “”I am pleased to see Cardiff Council are thinking and planning long-term, creating a transport strategy that looks to improve the health and well-being of people and wildlife in Wales. Creating low-carbon, integrated transport infrastructure, investing in active travel and identifying future trends in the growth of the city’s population and new technology available for moving around the city, are exactly the kind of things our cities need to be doing in the interests of future generations.
“Last year I published a series of resources as part of my Art of the Possible programme to support public bodies maximise their contribution to the seven well-being goals, and it is good to see that this white paper is reflecting my guidance and bringing the Act to life in a policy area that plays a critical role in changing the way we live, work and travel for the better.
“I expect to see other public bodies moving in the same direction as Cardiff Council and working to implement their duties under the Well-being of Future Generations Act.”
The public transport plans outlined in the White Paper include:
The Cardiff Metro
The creation of the Cardiff Crossrail tram-train connecting east and west Cardiff via the new transport interchange at Central Square;
The extension of the Cardiff Circle tram-train opening up new city routes;
Supporting the Welsh Government and Transport for Wales to deliver a new tram-train connecting Cardiff Central station with Cardiff Bay by 2023;
Deliver phase 1 of Crossrail – a new tram-train service of minimum 4 trains per hour from Radyr to Cardiff Bay, via the city line and a new link south of Central and across Callaghan Square, by 2024;
Deliver new stations at Loudon Square (Butetown), in the heart of Cardiff Bay, Crwys Road and Roath Park by 2024;
Deliver new stations at Gabalfa by 2028 as well as Victoria Park, Velindre, Roath Dock and Splott thereafter;
Establish a new Mainline Train Station at Cardiff Parkway in St Mellons;
Deliver station improvements at all existing train stations including extensive regeneration of Queen Street Station;
Launch a fully integrated ticketing system for all public transport in Cardiff – including the Metro, bus and Nextbike- allowing one ticket to be used across the whole transport system.
Rapid Bus Transport
Current bus routes require people to travel into and out of the city centre using roads that are often congested and slow moving, making bus journeys an unattractive alternative to cars. The Council will improve services by establishing a new cross-city bus network linked to the new METRO. This will include a new circular bus loop around the city centre which will mean passengers will no longer have to travel into the city centre to get to their destination. New bus stations will be built in the east and west of the city.
SMART technology will prioritise buses at traffic lights and junctions and access to regional destinations, such as Newport, Pontypridd and Penarth will be improved.
To make travel by bus more affordable the Council is proposing to work with bus operators to reduce all fares to £1 across the city.
New Park & Ride facilities will be built at Junction 32 and Junction 33 off the M4, with a new bus lane being built down the A4232 Link Road.
Bus and taxi operators and will be offered incentives to move towards electric vehicles and cleaner engines.
Active Travel and improvements to our streets
We know that cycling and walking are the greenest and healthiest ways to travel; they generate less pollution and help keep us fit. Active travel can even improve children’s performances at school. Currently the active travel network of safe, attractive and convenient cycle and pedestrian routes is fragmented and incomplete.
The White Paper outlines how the Council will build a high-quality, safe and fully segregated cycle network by 2026. This will include a complete cycle loop around the city centre which will connect to each of six cycleways, which will be built through a number of districts across the city.
The nextbike hire scheme will be expanded to at least 2000 bikes and new regional nextbikeopportunities will be introduced to give more people the opportunity to join the scheme.
The Council will also roll out the ‘Streets for Health Initiative’, so that streets are reclaimed as healthy public spaces for the public to enjoy.
Active travel plans will be launched in schools across the city to promote walking, scooting or cycling and speed limits on Cardiff’s roads will be set to 20mph by default.
The future use of the car
The Council will significantly increase the number of electric charging points across Cardiff by 2025 to encourage the take up of electric vehicles.
The Council’s fleet of vehicles will be fully electric or ‘zero emission capable’ for 2025.
Car Clubs giving members access to vehicles 24-hours-a-day will be expanded to reducing the need for residents to own their own car.
The Council will lobby Welsh Government to complete the Eastern Bay Link Road and put infrastructure in place to better connect residents living in the east of the city.
SMART technology will use real-time travel information to monitor and respond to transport, traffic and parking data, easing congestion on SMART transport corridors.
Infrastructure to support the wider region
A rapid-bus regional network will be established with regular affordable bus services operating every 15-20 minutes at peak times. This network will connect towns across the city region directly to the centre of Cardiff.
Significant improvements are also being made to all the major routes into the city, including:
The Northwest Transport Corridor
Improvements designed to improve accessibility for the communities of Llantrisant and Talbot Green to and from Cardiff. Work has already started to build a new transport interchange at Waungron Road which will link to a new Park & Ride facility at Junction 32 off the M4.
Options for motorists to switch to travel by bus from Junction 34 are also being explored, with a rapid bus transport link being built on the A4232 into Cardiff Bay.
A SMART Corridor will be piloted on a major section of the A470 between Coryton and Gabalfa and is expected to be introduced in 2020.
SMART Corridors use real time information to intelligently manage the movement of traffic, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. This will give passengers a more informed choice on how they wish to travel, before they travel.
North and South East Corridors
Options are being explored to improve transport links, including infrastructure for walking and cycling.
South West Corridor
To reduce congestion between Penarth and Cardiff, a number of options are being explored. These include a pilot electric bike scheme; interchange facilities at Cogan train station; investigations into the feasibility of walking and cycling facilities around the Penarth headland; and a Cardiff Barrage bus link between Penarth and Cardiff.
Cllr Wild added: “We want to give everyone the opportunity to rethink how they get to work or travel into Cardiff and there is a move away from the car already happening. People are now aware of climate change and they want to play a part in helping to tackle it.
“In 2010, the percentage of people commuting to work in Cardiff by car was 57%. Today that figure has reduced to 49%. During this time period the percentage of people that travel to work by train or bus has increased slightly, up from 16% in 2011, to 19% today, but the number of people that are now cycling or walking to work has increased from 26% in 2011 to 31% today which is very encouraging.
“We now need to try to speed up this change in behaviour. We need to encourage people to consider alternative travel options, to get them out of their cars or to think about car sharing. How many times have you sat in an endless traffic jam and noticed that almost every car only contains the driver. Imagine the difference if some of us shared our journey into Cardiff, we could take thousands of cars off the road in one fell swoop.
“Of course, if a charge is to be introduced, and it won’t be considered until a full business case is completed, then the Council would give a commitment that new infrastructure will be built in advance to make sustainable public transport a viable option for people
“This would include Transport for Wales introducing additional capacity on key valley line services, new park & ride facilities at both Junction 32 and Junction 33 off the M4; a new bus interchange at Waungron Road and University Hospital of Wales; the completion of the METRO Phase 1 projects; the completion of the first phase of the cycle network; the completion of the new bus interchange at Central Square; the METRO station at Crwys Road being opened; the new train station at Cardiff Parkway being opened in St Mellons; the Cardiff Bay tram-train line being built as well as the new train station at Loudon Square being opened.
“Anyone who has been stuck in traffic in the city knows that something has to be done. Inaction will only lead to more gridlock, more pollution and more damage to our health and the environment. Our White Paper poses some difficult questions and makes clear the challenges we face as a city, but crucially it points towards solutions which can revitalise our transport network. None of us are happy with the way things are now and none of us want it to get any worse which is why we are looking at radical steps to transform the way the city works.”