The 'long-term behaviour change programme' needed to get people in West Yorkshire to ditch their cars

West Yorkshire's transport leaders say a "long-term, comprehensive behaviour change programme" is needed to meet the county's climate goals by encouraging people to ditch their cars and make walking or cycling the first choice for short journeys.

Monday, 1st February 2021, 5:45 am

The Connectivity Infrastructure Plan for West Yorkshire, unveiled this week, says delivering a long-awaited mass transit system or bus priority measures is unlikely to reduce congestion without "complementary measures to reduce car demand"

The long-term strategy, which includes preliminary details of how a mass transit system might work, aims to bring about a massive shift to public transport to help boost the economy and meet ambitious climate change targets.

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West Yorkshire transport leaders set out vision for how county's long-awaited ma...

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And its authors say the vision "deliberately focuses on a sustainable future, putting walking, cycling and green public transport infrastructure at the top of our investment priorities".

Setting out its priorities, the document states: "Walking and cycling will become major forms of transport – the first choice for short journeys and a safe and convenient way of integrating with public transport services."

West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which leads on economic growth and transport for Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield, has set a target of 2038 to achieve net-zero carbon status where any greenhouse gas emissions are cancelled out.

Some 44 per cent of CO2 emissions in West Yorkshire are from transport and the majority of those from roads and private vehicles, making the task of decarbonising transport a priority.

An artist's impression of how public transport in West Yorkshire could look

The report says: "Our modelling suggests that major investment in sustainable transport supported by behaviour change programmes, technology and policy interventions can get us on the right trajectory and between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the way towards a net zero carbon transport sector.

"But even then we will still need to increase our ambition around certain measures or rely on innovative technologies to meet our target. Delivering radical change will need the support of business, communities and government."

The document describes how West Yorkshire's towns and cities have "outgrown our transport system" and that "reliance on the car is damaging business, the environment and the health of residents".

It says that officials will need to look at how demand for the road network can be managed, as the "direction taken over the next few years will decide whether or not we meet our carbon reduction target".

And it hints at a potential extra costs for motorists to travel by car, saying the authority will explore "options for raising new funding locally, including through fiscal demand management measures that support this strategy at a time when conditions are right locally".

The proposals, which are now out to consultation, identify where people will live and work in the coming decades, the journeys they will need to take and how best to connect them through an integrated network including walking and cycling, bus, mass transit and rail.

If a mass transit system does finally come to Leeds it would end its status as the biggest city area in Western Europe without such a metro or light rail system. But such a scheme would cost billions of pounds and rely on a successful bid for government funding.

And in their foreword to the report, council leaders warned that it would take a "good few years" for the changes to be realised.

They wrote: "We want to make better transport choices inclusive and accessible to everyone, and use everyday journeys to give people more chances in life, to make our region a fairer place to be.

"A new, rapid transit system for West Yorkshire will be a key element, linking all of our key places with an easy and reliable service. This will represent a bold investment; a transformational transport system that will benefit many generations to come.

"There is lots happening right now – but it will take a good few years to deliver against our level of ambition. If we want to leave a lasting legacy of many more sustainable journeys made, then we have to be the generation that shows resolve, vision and, above all, good sense."