Jon Trickett MP writes: It is also essential to help tackle climate change.
The lack of investment in transport infrastructure is a major contributory factor to social inequality in our country, particularly in semi-rural areas.
The truth is that many people cannot afford to live where they work.
Yet a quarter of English households have no access to a car, rising to almost two-thirds of job-seekers.
In the Wakefield District 31 per cent of households don’t have access to a car or van.
Yet in my constituency only six per cent use the bus and three per cent use a train to get to work.
People are at serious risk of being cut off from work and healthcare because of the rising costs of owning and running a car, and a lack of alternative transport methods.
It takes 17 minutes to travel between Featherstone and South Elmsall by car, whereas on public transport it takes one hour and nine minutes.
It takes 34 minutes to travel between Upton and Leeds by car, whereas on public transport it takes one hour and 27 minutes.
What this shows is that access to public transport is a class issue.
If you don’t have the money to run a car, life is very difficult. As we know geographic mobility is linked to social mobility.
News that Northern Rail have temporarily cut services between Featherstone and Streethouse is cause for great dismay. At a time when the government are promising to level up transport, cuts continue.
Social mobility has come grinding to halt across our entire country, but the problem is particularly acute where I live.
According to the Social Mobility Index, my constituency of Hemsworth is ranked 529 out of 533 in England.
We cannot begin to overcome these deep rooted problems without serious targeted investment in transport infrastructure in our area that makes it possible for everyone to get to where they need to go.
West Yorkshire and the entire north of England has been starved of government investment for decades.
In 2019 the total public spending on transport in London came to £906 per head, compared to just £321 per head in West Yorkshire.
If the north had received the same per person spending as London over the last decade, it would have received £86 billion more.
If the government is serious about ‘levelling up’ then this is what it will take.
Disappointingly the government’s integrated rail plan fails to level up. It focuses on connecting cities rather than making public transportation more accessible in smaller towns and villages.
It also retains the HS2 route through the Hemsworth constituency at a cost of £100 million, yet the high speed trains will not stop in our area and the route itself is devastating homes in Crofton and elsewhere.
It also exemplifies the point that the HS2 route through our area was not designed to benefit local people because we can see they are cutting local train services.
Our region is in desperate need of spending on transport infrastructure to increase local connectivity, rather than simply a slightly quicker route to London.