Don’t worry I haven’t changed my mind since the previous blog. Just some more musings about how to develop the concept of a Regional Transport Authority. And a few other bits and pieces too!
First of all, an elected Regional Transport Authority incorporating TfL but NOT run by the Mayor of London of the GLA. Any authority would need a fair and transparent governance structure just as much as a fair and transparent funding structure. The problems in and needs of, for example, Epsom are not necessarily the same as those of Brighton or Islington or Cambridge or Maidstone or Slough. It’s vital that the structure reflects this so that different areas don’t get forgotten but also that local solutions can be evaluated as they may apply (adapted as necessary) to others. Equally that all areas don’t feel as though they are being swallowed up into some faceless amorphous mass. That’s why purely local affairs and services must remain under local elected authorities, be they city, borough, county or unitary.
I hear you all saying, very good but not possible to achieve? Well if you don’t try you’ll never know. This is an idea we really haven’t tried in England before and with good will and consensus it IS achievable. IF we actually want to get something done for the good of all.
The operating side of the Authority must draw in the best professional and technical talent from Rail, Highways and Bus operations.
Next. The region needs to assess exactly what it needs in terms of infrastructure and facilities to ensure seamless connectivity not only within the region but with adjacent areas and the rest of the country. Essential not only for people to get around but also goods and services to be delivered cost-effectively. The region must facilitate all forms of transport for the good of all and for the economy in all its varied manifestations. Now you might think I’m verging into some sort of politics – well I’m not. This is all about the good of all – that’s not politics – it’s just plain good sense.
Next. Could this apply to other areas of England? Well, yes it could, given the same general provisos and considerations as stated above. I could foresee England split into a total of 5 Transport Regions.
Lastly. As far as the (greater) South East Region is concerned, we need action now! Apart from rescuing us from the mess that DfT has made of the rail timetables, we need rapid action to enhance services and facilities. Now don’t interpret ‘rapid’ as overnight……it just isn’t possible. But we do need a short to medium term programme say achievable in 5-10 years from the get go. Enhancement of capacity on key urban and inter-urban rail corridors; regionwide smart ticketing; an emphasis on facilities for the disabled; personal safety and security for all; cost-effective delivery of services for all; bus-service franchising and re-establishing services; highway repair and maintenance; upgrading key road junctions; encouragement and facilitation of walking and cycling (perhaps region-wide cycle hire also linked to the ticketing system?); car-clubs keyed into ticketing, so you have a hire vehicle waiting at your destination. These are all just headline ideas and not exclusive or limiting others.
I’m not imagining a paradise on earth (theological or political), just a situation that will allow everybody, be they a driver, a pedestrian, a cyclist or rail or bus passenger a fair ‘crack of the whip’ in every sense.