Politically speaking: Jon Trickett MP - Transport plans must stretch to every corner
Back in the day, most people worked close to home. Now, you may have to travel quite a long way to get to work and back home. But the roads get clogged up and parking can cost a fortune.
More people are using the trains but there aren’t enough stations or train lines to be able to leave the car behind.
The buses aren’t that regular either. This is why there is talk about a new public transport system. It’s called a Mass Transit System for the whole of West Yorkshire and was announced last month.
On the face of it these plans signal an incredibly encouraging development for our region. A transport system for West Yorkshire is long overdue. I’ve been continually highlighting in Parliament the raw deal Yorkshire receives regarding transport spend.
The facts speak for themselves. Transport spend per head in Yorkshire and the Humber in 2019-20 was £309. This rose to £882 per head in London – a staggering difference.
A new transport system must work for all of West Yorkshire.
I note that Featherstone has been identified as an area for mass transit. Yet examination of these proposals reveals that in their current form, the majority of my constituency will not be better served. This is something I believe needs to be urgently rectified.
Projections for how transport infrastructure could look in West Yorkshire in 2040 shows that transport options available in my constituency will be those already in place.
As my constituents know, these options are woefully inadequate. If you live in Upton or Hemsworth, a trip on the bus to Wakefield, a distance of roughly 10 miles, will take you 40 minutes.
Neither of these areas are serviced by rail. Bus is the only option.
Leaving these places out of any proposal for mass transit is in my view a grave oversight that could lead to isolation of communities within Hemsworth constituency.
Hemsworth and South Kirkby have been outlined within these plans as priority areas for economic support. There is no question that greater connectivity increases access to jobs and services. I am therefore disappointed that these areas haven’t been included.
Too often, our area does not get a look in when it comes to big projects that will supposedly benefit our region.
HS2 is proof of this. This project does nothing to benefit our towns and villages. We will get all of the pain and none of the gain.
If HS2 goes ahead and a mass transit system goes ahead as planned, there will be only limited benefit to most of my constituency.
The towns and villages I represent could benefit hugely from increased connectivity through public transport. But this can only happen by expanding the mass transit system.
Transport plans for West Yorkshire must commit to constructing an interchange station in the south east of the Wakefield District.
To be clear, West Yorkshire is in dire need of improved public transport.
But I believe such networks must be there for every corner of our county.
A consultation is ongoing on the plans for a mass transit system in West Yorkshire.
It is my hope that further proposals for this important network will include greater transport options for my Hemsworth constituency.