You probably haven’t heard about it, but there’s a consultation (yes, another one) on the region’s most important transport strategy document, the Local Transport Plan (LTP). Responsibility for maintaining it has passed from the county council to the combined authority. The mayor is rightly taking it back to the drawing board. Now it needs your input.
The LTP policies read like those in most local government strategy documents, saying the right things but in vague, aspirational language that studiously avoids quantifying outcomes or setting deadlines. On tackling pollution, the Combined Authority will be “supporting low emission zones” and “supporting industry to reduce emissions”. On responding to climate change, it will “take a sustainable approach”, “manage the risks”, “with climate change in mind”; it will “encourage” and “promote” sustainable practices.
This isn’t strong enough: we know pollution is killing people and we have little over a decade to de-carbonise transport. Any project that doesn’t take us closer to zero carbon and zero pollution should be ruled out. Projects that take us fastest towards those goals should be prioritised.
As for specific schemes for Greater Cambridge, several are underway already, such as “Waterbeach Station Relocation”, “Milton and Histon Road Improvements” and “Strategic Bus Review”. The biggest addition is the CAM ‘metro’. The could, in some form, be transformational, but it isn’t a total solution: better provision for walking, cycling and buses on normal roads is essential in any case. That requires interventions more ambitious than an “A505 Corridor Study”, conversion of the M11 hard shoulder into an extra lane, and “relocation of Newmarket Road P&R to Airport Way”.
The LTP will inflexibly determine what local authorities channel resources into delivering (at least until a new mayor is elected). Anything in the plan that shouldn’t be will probably go ahead regardless; anything that isn’t in it will struggle to secure resources and political backing.
So, if you care about the future of transport in the region, and its contribution to the health and wellbeing of you, your family and fellow citizens, make sure you let the Combined Authority know your priorities – head on over to the consultation site to take a look at what they’ve got now.
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 21 August 2019.