Cashing in on the Metro?



(Title Image: BBC Wales)

The Issue

Following on from yesterday’s statement by the Economy Secretary on the Welsh Government’s transport strategy, backbench AMs used the final member’s debate slot of the year to outline their own thoughts on the direction of travel.

The Motion

The Senedd:

  • Recognises the importance of a modern public transport network to relieve pressure on Wales’ road network.
  • Notes the evidence that a fully integrated public transport system—including walking & cycling —is needed to provide a practical and attractive alternative to car use.
  • Welcomes the commitment to the first stages of a south Wales metro.
  • Endorses the commitment to develop a vision for a north-east Wales metro, and development of an outline case for a Swansea Bay metro.
  • Believes Transport for Wales must have the power to act as a development corporation—with the ability to capitalise on rising land values in areas close to metro stations—in order to lever in further funding to expand the metro network.

Key Points

Lee Waters AM (Lab, Llanelli)
For (the motion): Let’s think long-term.

  • People will use buses and trains if they’re run on a “turn up and go” basis; buses in his area sometimes stop running after 4pm.
  • Plans for the proposed three metro systems in Wales need to be “ambitious” and have the whole door-to-door journey in mind (i.e. getting to a bus stop or train station).
  • Land values rise near metro stops with businesses and people attracted there, so Transport for Wales should be able to act as a development corporation to take advantage of this and not let profits drain away when they could be re-invested in the network.

Nick Ramsay AM (Con, Monmouth)
For: Embrace new technology.

  • He accepts there’ll be some journeys where a car is always necessary due to patchy public transport services in rural areas.
  • New technology can play a part (i.e. virtual ticketing) but those challenges need to be dealt with otherwise problems on the roads will get worse.

Jenny Rathbone AM (Lab, Cardiff Central)
For (in principle): Capacity and higher service frequencies are needed to get people out of their cars.

  • In urban areas like Cardiff, public transport has to be the default option to taking the car for those unable to walk or cycle; there has to be greater capacity on the rail work with the new franchise.
  • Where’s the money? She’s concerned a huge chunk of the Metro budget in south Wales will be taken up by electrification costs.
  • Prefers converting the Valley lines to trams as you can run more services due to signalling differences.

Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinefwr)
Mixed views

  • Transport in Wales has always been something done for us not by ourselves; Wales’ transport map has all the hallmarks of a colonised economy – mine to coast or farm to market.
  • To get to Cardiff from Aberystwyth requires “Herculean effort” and you can rarely travel west-east across the valleys.
  • We’re less metropolitan than most countries but the focus by the Welsh Government is on metros in three semi-metropolitan areas.

David Rowlands AM (UKIP, South Wales East)
For (in principle): Remember the buses in all this.

  • Wales’ topography is a barrier to creating a properly integrated transport system.
  • Buses carry 80% of the people who use public transport; Transport for Wales should be able to plan a properly integrated bus network that connects rural areas to major transport hubs.

Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North)
For: Cut down on short journeys by car.

  • Overcrowding on trains is a major source of complaints from constituents.
  • The number of car journeys of under 1 mile is increasing, it’s vital train stations are easy to get to on foot and by bike as well as address people’s fears and concerns about cycling or walking so it doesn’t become the preserve of “middle aged men in lycra”.

Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly)
For: Make sure we have extra capacity.

  • Geography/topography is what it is and has hampered transport connections but there’s little that can be done about that.
  • The car is still a very big draw as proven by problems caused by roadworks at Pwll-y-Pant roundabout in his constituency; public transport needs the capacity to make people think otherwise.

Welsh Government Response

Economy Secretary, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South)

  • The quality of public transport in rural areas should be no worse than in urban areas.
  • There’s a focus on improving accessibility to public transport by the disabled as they’ve often complained that there’s a lack of consistency between transport providers on things like extra wheelchair spaces or low-floor vehicles.
  • He doesn’t envisage Transport for Wales becoming a development agency but does see it working very closely to achieved joined-up planning with developers to make sure the best use of land around Metro stations.
  • The Welsh Government are entering into a joint venture with Cardiff Council to redevelop Cardiff Central bus and rail stations into a “world-class transport hub”.

Vote

I have no idea for the reasons why the vote went like this, but here you go:

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