Green light given for £173.5m Leeds transport improvements
Proposals to bring about transformational improvements to public transport in Leeds have been given a major green light after government approval was confirmed.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has expressed its support for £173.5million of funding to be invested in an integrated package of improvements in transport in Leeds including new park and ride services, bus priority lanes and modernised transport facilities across the city. The approval will also allow proposals to be further developed for new and improved rail stations including an airport parkway station.
The plans were unveiled in December following the results of the transport conversation held in the city, with the proposed improvements forming the start of a new long-term transport strategy for Leeds.
The £173.5m of funding was secured for Leeds following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus last year, with the funds needing to be committed to public transport schemes before the end of 2021.
With the support the DfT has now given to the Bid Submission (PDF 6MB)
, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) will now develop a range of improvements including:
- Easing congestion, improving bus journey times and reliability through bus priority measures on key corridors in the city including the A61/A639 South, A61 North, A660, A58 north east and A647
- New park and ride services at Stourton and north Leeds joining the new service at Temple Green opening later this year and the success of Elland Road
- Improved district transport hubs making use of the latest technologies and better connectivity between local communities and neighbourhoods
- Developing proposals for new rail stations to support job creation and housing growth at Thorpe Park and White Rose/Millshaw Business Park
- Developing proposals for a new parkway station on the Leeds to Harrogate line to serve Leeds Bradford Airport and also act as a park and ride in both directions
- Enhancing access at Cross Gates, Morley and Horsforth rail stations and car park expansion at New Pudsey to increase its park and ride capacity
- Connecting with city centre plans to create modern transport interchanges, enhanced public spaces and maximising the benefits from the remodelled Leeds Station and the arrival of high-speed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (formerly HS3).
Together with the £173.5m, additional support from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private sector stakeholders including £71m investment from First West Yorkshire to provide at least 284 new low-emissions buses for Leeds by the end of 2020 increases the total funding package available to in excess of £270million of investment (JPG 2.1MB).
The first improvements expected to come forward are the new park and ride service at Stourton and additional bus priority measures, with the measures outlined aiming to double the number of bus passengers in the next 10 years from the current 250,000 bus journeys made every day in Leeds.
The strategy also looks to encourage more walking and cycling on people-friendly streets, promoting a healthy Leeds through better air quality and reduced carbon emissions due to more use of public transport.
Leeds Transport Strategy
The new Leeds Transport Strategy (PDF 3.7MB) is in response to the findings of the biggest-ever transport conversation held with residents, businesses, stakeholders and visitors to the city, which resulted in more than 8,000 people taking part in the survey. Feedback from the conversation was for deliverable improvements through better rail and bus services, a clear demand for additional park and ride services, congestion issues to be addressed along with improved accessibility to bring communities, businesses and jobs closer together to boost connectivity and the overall economy and productivity of Leeds.
The plans were supported and guided by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds transport advisory panel. The panel is chaired by the Director of Strategy for Transport for the North Nigel Foster, the advisory panel (PDF 77KB) includes leading transport experts and senior figures from transport bodies and organisations, along with representatives from the worlds of business, education, planning, accessibility, equalities and campaign groups.
The transport improvements form part of the wider Leeds City Region economic plan which aims to deliver up to 35,000 new jobs and an additional £3.6billion of economic output by 2036. The broader transport conversation will continue this year on the longer-term transport strategy for Leeds.
Mass transit ambition
Leeds City Council is continuing to press for funding for a viable mass transit system to be put in place as soon as possible. It was not possible to use the NGT money available for this as mass transit systems are considerably more expensive (up to £80m per kilometre to build) and take a long time to deliver, (the government has said the NGT funding must be committed by 2021). There was a clear direction from those who took part in the transport conversation for actions and improvements to happen as soon as possible rather than waiting for a much longer-term single project to be delivered.
The council is calling on all key partners and everyone in Leeds to work together to secure the funding required so that a plan to provide a mass transit system to benefit all communities and the wider region can be taken forward as quickly as possible.
Cycling and walking
To encourage more cycling participation, Leeds is committed to continuing to improve cycling infrastructure in the city, with £35m being invested in the mostly government-funded City Connect cycling superhighway in the city. Development of the Leeds core cycle network is also ongoing. Through reducing congestion and improving air quality and public spaces, the proposals also aim for a more people and family-friendly approach to encourage more walking.