Merseyside LTP3 : Building a New Mobility Culture Challenges and Opportunities for Future Transport Provision on Merseyside Responses to Consultation Questions The Merseyside Civic Society (MCS) welcomes this opportunity to contribute to the discussion of issues raised in the Building a New Mobility Culture document. In the responses set out below, we have not attempted to offer comment on every issue on which we might reasonably take a civic society view. We are aware that other individuals and organisations have made constructive contributions to the debate, in highlighting matters that might have been overlooked and compiling well argued cases to support specific proposals or courses of action. We would support many of these, notably those set out by the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, Merseyside & Warrington Group with respect to technical improvements in bus and rail system operation, repetition of which here would gain little. Instead, we restrict our principal responses to discussion of two sets of issues. Some are matters that have come to light in the course of LTP3 consultation events. Others reflect the fundamental position that we have adopted in response to earlier policy consultation exercises. This is based on a conviction that we must recognise the unique opportunity that the area has to take advantage of its enormously valuable inheritance of both transport infrastructure and associated economic potential that is attributable to its genesis as a port-based city region. Bold strategic thinking is required to rise to the challenge that this poses – thinking that embraces both transport and a broader spatial planning perspective that seeks to encourage the complementary re-configuration of the location and density of residential and other development that is to be served by public transport networks. We urge that a wholehearted commitment should be given to what, in the United States, is termed Transit Oriented Development (TOD), a concept to which American cities are belatedly waking up in an effort to reduce car dependency. Here we identify some of ways in which we argue this challenge should be faced up to on Merseyside. Q1:
Do you agree with the Government’s national priorities for transport?
MCS broadly supports the Government‟s commitment to the provision of modern and efficient transport systems as a means of supporting a wide range of other priorities in urban areas, consistent with the Government‟s national priorities, including the securing of healthier communities, strengthening the local economy, reducing inequalities and providing a high quality urban environment. As ever, the principal challenge lies in identifying ways in which these laudable goals are to be delivered. We note that sustainability has been added to the criteria that are given particular weight in delivery and welcome the fresh thinking that is being applied in encouraging the greater use of walking and cycling to reach locally accessible services, places of entertainment and employment opportunities. 1.1
MCS comments: LTP3 Issues for Discussion
Do you agree that they reflect local priorities? If not, please suggest what you believe these should be.
The priorities identified by Government clearly have local relevance but local circumstances dictate that some issues have greater local significance than others. Recognition is appropriately given to the critical role that transport plays in addressing inequalities, by providing connectivity between deprived communities and employment opportunities, and in securing continued economic development. 2.2
The traditional port-related underpinnings of the economy of Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region (LCR) have already undergone radical change. This change must continue in order to meet the new economic challenges of the 21st century and will be pursued through the further development of the Mersey Ports, Liverpool John Lennon Airport and the promotion of the „Liverpool Superport‟ concept. This, together with the other three „transformational activities‟ (p. 4) identified in the LCR Strategic Framework, provides a sensible basis for seeking to secure more jobs in the future. 2.3
Merseyside is in a unique position to benefit from the extensive rail network that was largely put in place in the 19th century. This advantage must be fully exploited in seeking to prolong the period for which the area continues to enjoy relatively low levels of traffic congestion in comparison with its competitor cities. In is in these fortunate circumstances that a commitment to Transit Oriented Development is essential to the achievement of low carbon sustainability goals. Q3:
Do you agree with the Government’s view of the importance of transport in supporting a wide range of other priorities?
This judgement is self-evident.
Do you support these goals for the next LTP? If not, what alternative or additional goals would you suggest?
We are pleased to support the goals set out for the LTP for the coming period. However, freight currently receives less consideration that it deserves.
We welcome the commitment that has been given, outside the discussion document, that freight matters are to receive greater prominence in LTP3 than its predecessors, noting that this is not apparent in currently drafted statements. However, we are pleased that it is acknowledged that more attention needs to be focused on issues that are specific to freight movement, especially in the light of the dramatic rise in white van (LGV) use, noted as a specific challenge to be addressed. 4.3
In addition, there is the prospect of welcome opportunities for the removal of HGV traffic to/from the port that will eventually be opened up by the proposed post-Panamax barging of containers etc. between the new Seaforth facility and Port Salford. However, in the shorter term, there are more immediate issues to deal with in pursuit of making more effective use of the rail capacity that is available to shift more boxes and other traffic through the port. The nonsense of the apparent continuing lack of communication between Freightliner operation in Garston and the operations at Seaforth needs to be sorted out at a high level. Meanwhile, every effort should be made to bring forward the date for the commencement of work on the development of the post-Panamax facilities at Seaforth. MCS comments: LTP3 Issues for Discussion
The role played by the HGV Freight Priority Route (FPR) road network should be revisited to ensure that it is appropriately designated and fit for purpose. The bullet needs to be bitten to resolve remaining ambiguities, including, for example, the fizzling out at Aigburth Vale, of the section of the FPR from the south along Aigburth Road (i.e. the line on the map mysteriously stops), thus avoiding the potential sensitivity of the designation of Riverside Drive as part of the network that meanwhile continues to serve de facto as a vital link to and from the port. 4.5
There seems to be ample scope to take more positive steps towards increasing the efficiency of freight vehicle fleet use by adopting more widely the Delivery and Services Plans (DSPs) approach that, for some time, has been so successfully promoted by Transport for London (TfL). A DSP provides a framework for the management of all types of freight vehicle movement to and from individual buildings and is, essentially, the equivalent of a workplace travel plan for freight. To quote the promotional TfL leaflet, a plan of this type can “help to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of deliveries ... and... identify unnecessary journeys, and deliveries that could be made by more sustainable modes, to help reduce congestion and minimise the environmental impact of freight activity”. Plans need to be tailored to the requirements of individual sites, and there is scope for the local authority to choose to enforce them as a planning condition, if appropriate. 4.6
We are pleased to learn that the Merseyside and Halton Freight Partnership has already examined how some aspects of this approach can be taken forward as part of a standard Transport Assessment. We would welcome the more widespread adoption of the DSP philosophy. In our view, a prime virtue of the approach is that it places a responsibility upon the operator of a site to assess the site‟s performance with respect to a range of criteria, many of which are likely to point to potential economies and efficiencies from which the operator can expect to benefit – thus securing a critical buy-in to the process. Q5:
Do you support our view of a new mobility culture? Are there any other aspects which should be included?
We are happy to endorse the way in which the new mobility culture concept has been conceived as a way of capturing the main dimensions of the problems to be faced in bringing about fundamental changes in both behaviour and attitudes to how travel choices are made and can thus be influenced by policy. 5.2
As part of the new mobility culture there needs to be more explicit recognition of the scope to reduce the overall demand for travel through the active promotion of mixed use development, where local employment opportunities are encouraged within any substantial residential development. A high proportion of favoured target industries or business sectors can be readily accommodated in areas that are predominantly residential (at least in the Liverpool LDF, including financial and professional services; media, creative and cultural industries; high value-added knowledge based industries; plus some forms of leisure activity). The continued promotion of employment growth points that are remote from residential areas, will only increase distances travelled and exacerbate our current problems. 5.3
Mixed use development, however, is only part of the philosophy that should underpin the way in which the future development of transport networks
MCS comments: LTP3 Issues for Discussion
should complement, and be complemented by, the way in which the wider planning regime influences the location, and ultimately, the density of activity. If greater reliance is to be placed on public transport in securing access to opportunity, more positive efforts must be made to ensure that the density of development is maximised in corridors or near nodes that are, or will be, better served by public transport, consistent with the principles of Transit Oriented Development. Logic demands that this should be a fundamental influence on the spatiality of any strategy for determining the location both of new housing and other forms of development. 5.4
In commenting on the Liverpool LDF Core Strategy Preferred Options report, we have argued that inadequate recognition persists of the inevitable variability in the degree to which different parts of the city (and wider city region) can benefit from convenient access by public transport. The geography of transport networks, especially their strongly radial orientation, means that there is greater scope to achieve choice of travel mode along radial routes and near existing nodes. This is coupled with the continuing lack of recognition of the relationship between the density of development, and especially resident population, and the feasibility of frequent and effective public transport operation. 5.5
We went on to argue that this recognition needs to be complemented by a more explicit strategy of restoring population densities in specific areas. This is required to redress the enforced losses (clearance) of the last half-century (added to so unnecessarily in recent months!), with a particular emphasis on locations that are well served by existing transport nodes and radial routes – especially rail and bus, but also, eventually, tram. 5.6
Although perhaps beyond the brief of the LTP, it is crucial that the central importance of this relationship is at least grasped and ideally acted upon by those making what should be complementary decisions affecting the operation of the transport networks and the economic and other activities that they serve. 5.7
Where the LTP can have an important role in achieving this complementarity is in taking steps to ensure that the stations and stops on the principal routes provide convenient and readily negotiated access to the densest possible patterns of development that should surround them. A major challenge is to undertake a thorough assessment of the potential for improvement at all locations that serve as transport nodes – including the identification of potential bottlenecks, barriers to movements, inefficient use of neighbouring sites, inadequate signage, etc. This „scope for improvement‟ activity in the vicinity of stops/stations should not be separated from the efforts made to achieve efficiency in operation of the services on the routes concerned as the ease of reaching and passing through these terminal facilities is all part of the traveller experience that colours the ultimate mode choice judgement and thus the potential to realise desired rates of modal switch. 5.8
What are your views on the figures and trends that we have highlighted above? Should we have highlighted anything else?
We have no comments to offer on the figures and trends highlighted – but see below in response to Q8 for concerns raised about the specification of models used in the assessment of likely policy impacts. 6.1
MCS comments: LTP3 Issues for Discussion
Do you believe that previous Local Transport Plans (2001-2006 & 20062011) led to a general improvement in the area’s transport network?
LTP1 and 2 have succeeded in delivering some very worthwhile benefits for both the travelling public on Merseyside and the business community that relies upon the networks to serve retail, office and other commercial and industrial developments throughout the area. Little will be achieved by listing the principal achievements here other than to note that many successful schemes have finally been implemented but taken much longer to implement than originally envisaged. 7.2
A continuing frustration remains at the failure to secure the completion of Merseytram Line One according the intended schedule, a project to which we have been pleased to lend vocal support in the media and elsewhere whenever the opportunity has presented itself. The extension of the Transport and Works Act powers for a further three years, as a consequence of commencing the park and ride facilities at Page Moss, is welcome but represents poor compensation for denial of the benefits of the trams running on the city‟s streets, largely as a consequence of failure to secure essential local political support. It is here that we must learn a lesson from our neighbours in Greater Manchester, where the unanimous voice of MPs in support of favoured projects has proved so critical in ensuring their delivery. Q8:
Do you agree with views on the forecasts that we have set out above?
Substantial progress has been made in assembling the data required to calibrate the models that are used to assess the sensitivity of forecasts of future patterns of travel demand, both to changes in the assumptions underlying those forecasts and in the examination of the likely effect of alternative policy measures. The crucial issue, to which much modelling effort is usually devoted, is establishing the likely impact of a variety of such measures on future modal split. However, our ability to do this rests on confidence in the appropriate specification of the models concerned in satisfactorily representing, both the behaviour of different groups of travellers to whom policy initiatives are directed, as well as the specific modes between which a choice is to be made. 8.2
Elsewhere reference has been made to the rapid rate of growth in the use of both hackney and private hire taxi services, especially in more deprived areas, into, through or near which conventional public transport operators are reluctant to venture on a commercial basis. As a phenomenon of increasing importance, it is critical that confidence can be demonstrated in the ability of the models concerned to be sensitive to this issue. 8.3
A traditional distinction has been made simply between those who are captive to public transport and those who are choice public mode users, typically with a car available, with bus and train taken to be the further available options. A step in the right direction would be to recognise that this simple distinctive is no longer adequate. At the very least, the „captive‟ group needs to be subdivided to distinguish between those living in areas which benefit from different levels of public transport service, each of which is likely to require a different model specification. Another requirement is likely to be the explicit treatment of taxi as a distinct choice option, maybe even distinguishing further between hackney and private hire, if data availability, for model calibration purposes, permits. MCS comments: LTP3 Issues for Discussion
Do you think there are other factors we need to take account of?
We believe that serious consideration should be given to how the longer term prospect of high speed rail connectivity can be most productively exploited in Merseyside. We appreciate that the prospects for extensions of HS2 beyond Birmingham are likely to lie buried for some time somewhere in the long grass. However, while awaiting the eventual outcome of the mower‟s efforts, we suggest that attention should be given to exploring and advocating alignments for a new link that will route the west coast high speed line via Liverpool, coupled with its inevitable role as a terminal point for the already long-overdue trans-Pennine high speed line. 9.2
In our view, the new high speed station should be located in the northern part of Liverpool – the area that lost its former role as a consequence of changing cargo handling technology in the port. Linked via effective public transport services to/from the Liverpool Waters waterfront development, as well as the city centre, we believe that this proposition would contribute enormously to the restoration of the area‟s fortunes, driven, perhaps a touch ironically, by the influence of an even newer generation of transport technology, primarily for the speedy movement of people. Q10: Do you agree with our assessment of the Challenges & Opportunities? What other suggestions would you make for inclusion or deletion? 10.1
Q11: Do you agree with our initial assessment of priorities for assessment? If not, what should we have included? 11.1
We are pleased to support the continuing commitment to the eventual development of the Merseytram network, especially Line One which will both serve a corridor that is without the benefit of a Merseyrail service, as well as facilitating convenient movement around the central area, including more effective connectivity between Liverpool One and the King‟s Waterfront developments. Q12: Do our tentative assessments of likely outcomes seem realistic and appropriate? 12.1
No comment at this stage.
MCS comments: LTP3 Issues for Discussion