West Midlands mayor says modal shift from cars to public transport is the long-term answer, but in the short-term he promises better co-ordination

 

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and newly appointed director of network resilience, Anne Shaw

 

West Midlands mayor Andy Street has launched an action plan aimed at combatting congestion. He has committed to a “step change in investment in public transport infrastructure to reduce the region’s dependence on cars”.

The West Midlands Combined Authority estimates that congestion costs the region billions of pounds every year in lost productivity. The authority has already secured £4.4bn from government to improve connections to HS2. In the shorter term, work is taking place to tackle congestion hotspots across the region and ensure there is greater coordination to avoid disruption.

To continue this work, a director of network resilience has been appointed. The role will be taken up next month by Anne Shaw, who is currently assistant director of transport at Birmingham City Council. She has 26 years’ experience working closely with many of the stakeholders involved in the region’s transport.

“It is no secret that we have a major issue with congestion in the West Midlands, a situation which is brought into even sharper focus when we have major infrastructure repairs or improvements that require roads and junctions to be closed,” said Street, who became the first directly-elected mayor of the West Midlands last May.

Clearly, the long-term approach has to involve moving people out of cars and this will require a revolution in investment in rail, buses, trams and cycling

“Clearly, the long-term approach has to involve moving people out of cars and this will require a revolution in investment in rail, buses, trams and cycling … But this will take many years to fully deliver. In the meantime, this congestion busting action plan will take simple but effective steps to overcome some of the issues that rightly frustrate commuters.”

Street continued: “The number one point of frustration tends to be a lack of coordination. At times roadworks appear badly planned and poorly communicated and this is sometimes a fair criticism.

“That’s what this action plan will seek to solve immediately as we know future investments in motorway enhancement and HS2 will put even more pressure on the road network.”

The action plan focuses on the ‘Key Route Network’, a number of important non-motorway roads across the region for which the mayor has responsibility.

WMCA has secured £5.8m of government funding through the National Productivity Investment Fund to tackle congestion at 10 locations, including ‘intelligent’ traffic signal technology. WMCA has requested a further £40m to tackle congestion elsewhere.

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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