What next for Peterborough’s transport network? Fewer cars and better bus services
Ahead of local elections on May 6, which will see 23 seats on Peterborough City Council being contested, the Peterborough Telegraph is offering party leaders the chance to have their say on some of the biggest issues. This is part 2 of a spotlight on what the city’s transport issues and how each would tackle them...
In part two of this feature Labour and the Liberal Democrats outline what they would like to see next for transport in Peterborough ..
RELATED: What next for Peterborough’s transport network? The Green Party and Conservatives have their say...
Shaz Nawaz (Labour Party):
We need to start by stating the seemingly obvious… that transport is under the authority of the metro mayor. This means that we are not the masters of our destiny at the moment.
So, what are we planning to do, offer and provide for the people of Peterborough in terms of transport policy?
Whilst everyone has, and is entitled to, an opinion, let us start with the facts. Despite having one of the fastest average rush hour speeds in the country, a tribute to the design of the parkway system by the late Wyndham Thomas, and the Conservative administration’s assertion that Peterborough is a car city, Peterborough needs less, not more, combustion engine cars in the city centre.
We are blessed with flat land, easy cycling and electric bicycles so let us take advantage of that and make the city centre more cycle friendly and stop cars entering that area.
We, therefore, need to improve and enhance the cycling routes. Let us also learn from the pandemic that has seen cycling and walking increase exponentially which, in turn, leads to people feeling safer. If there is less traffic, people are more likely to walk and cycle.
Bristol is cited as being a leader in this, based on a Department of Transport report where speed limits were reduced and traffic excluded to create areas where people were encouraged to get out of their cars.
We need to improve not only the buses (electric buses are on the horizon) but also the bus routes. There is a cross-party working group that is looking into the feasibility of better routes that are commercially viable.
There is a part for cars to play as more people look to electric-powered cars which are Greener, and we need more charging points for them.
The Labour group was immensely disappointed when the city plan to 2035, just 14 years away, did not make any reference to a tram or rapid light transport system. Is there an unmet need that can be revealed by carrying out a feasibility study, perhaps?
Should Peterborough introduce a congestion charge like London? Or, should we increase parking charges and reduce the amount of off-peak free parking like Manchester which is, in effect, a pay as you go model? Let the frequent users decide which they feel is the greater contributor to the health and wellbeing of the city via a referendum maybe.
In summary, we, as a city, need to start thinking the previously unthinkable and look at ways we can reduce the dependency on motor vehicles and incentivise Greener communities where there is less need to travel by car as we shop, work and socialise.The Labour group is already conducting research and will do so with everyone with an interest in the city and the drive (pardon the pun) for a Greener future locally, regionally and nationally.
Nick Sandford (Liberal Democrat):
Liberal Democrats believe that our city council needs to get serious about tackling the climate emergency. Transport is the number one source of our carbon emissions: so action on transport is needed urgently.
Here are some of the transport improvements we would press for if Liberal Democrats have a position of influence in the city council that is elected on May 6. Some things the council could do themselves but others may involve working with the combined authority and/or Government and all are dependent on funding being available.
To improve air quality we believe it is important that we cut harmful emissions from traffic as soon as possible. The Lib Dems would increase investment in our bus network to ensure that more residents have access to a reliable, regular, bus service and explore options for introducing park and ride.
In the urban area, we would improve the frequency of evening and Sunday buses and protect and improve the network of buses subsidised by the council. In rural areas, a mix of scheduled and demand responsive services may be more beneficial.
We need a modernised bus fleet where vehicles are all hybrid, electric or other low emission buses as soon as possible together with similar improvements to taxis in the city.
We would press the Cambs mayor to introduce smart ticketing and bus franchising as done by the Mayor of London.
We would investigate financing new transport investments by raising income from workplace car parking charges, thereby encouraging people to make use of alternative means of transport.
We would like to see new railway stations in the north and south of Peterborough to make it easier for residents to use the railway and cut traffic travelling through the city centre to the railway station. While Conservatives argue it can’t be done, Lib Dems in Cambridge have successfully campaigned for and won two new train stations for their city.
We would examine mass rapid transit options Peterborough in the next decade so that our city does not fall even further behind. We believe that ultra-light rail is a possible low carbon option for Peterborough with zero emission vehicles and low impact construction similar to that being developed in Coventry.
We believe that increasing the numbers of residents who travel by bicycle will cut pollution levels in our city. That’s why we would safeguard the Green Wheel and develop a purpose-built cycle highway network to make it easier for people to cycle from residential areas into and through the city centre for work and leisure. We would seek to end the ‘pothole culture’ which has left our many of our roads and pavements in a dangerous state.
The Lib Dems would invest in protecting our grass verges and keep our pavements safe for pedestrians by discouraging parking on them. Where there is evidence of public support, we would make grass verge and pavement parking illegal and use simple measures such as tree planting to discourage cars from ploughing up grass verges.