A transport vision designed to transform Cardiff and South East Wales' transport network has been unveiled by Cardiff Council.
The council's Transport White Paper lays out an ambitious 10-year plan to tackle the climate emergency, reduce congestion and improve air quality in the Welsh capital.
It lists a series of projects which could revolutionise public transport options in Cardiff and the region, including:
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport said, "Cardiff's current transport network was designed half a century ago for a city of 200,000 people. Today, once commuters, shoppers and visitors are taken into account our city has a daily population of almost half a million. No wonder our transport network is creaking - it's no longer fit for purpose.
"If you look at it from the point of view of the average Cardiff resident driving within the city to work every day, struggling for their bit of road space with the 80,000 other car commuters from outside the city's boundaries then absolutely, traffic congestion, traffic pollution and a public transport system which struggles to adequately serve the people who live and work here are all issues of major concern - and so they should be.
The Council says the right scheme could simultaneously and immediately do four things:
Cllr Wild added, "One option might be a simple, universal, £2, low-charging system applied to non-Cardiff residents who drive into the city which could reduce congestion, whilst raising money towards paying for improvements to our transport network. We need to get people out of cars and on to public transport. To do that we need to give them the best public transport options. And to do that we need to raise money to pay for them.
"As part of a robust decision making process we will consider a number of options. Our preferred option would include an exemption for Cardiff residents from any charge and we ask you to consider the ambitious proposals in this document fully.
"Road user charging isn't the only option available to raise money and we will be looking at other options in a business case I am recommending we undertake over the next year. No charge will be put in place until that business case is completed and all options have been reviewed, including possible parking place levies and congestion zones. Crucially, we also recognise that a significant number of interventions would need to be in place to provide alternative travel options for people before any charge could be introduced and we have outlined some of those in the White Paper itself. "
The cost to deliver the ambitious programme set out in the White Paper - which includes new park and rides, new train/tram lines and stations, rapid bus routes and segregated cycleways - is estimated at £2bn. Any income generated from a charging scheme would be ring-fenced to help deliver the projects.
Fiona Kinghorn, Executive Director of Public Health for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said, "If we are serious about improving air quality, getting people more active, and tackling the climate emergency, ambitious action is required. This White Paper delivers that, and we fully support its ambition to increase walking and cycling in Cardiff, provide major enhancements to the public transport network in the City, and reduce harmful air pollution. These actions will contribute to major improvements in health in the short and long-term to residents and visitors to Cardiff, and for future generations, and we look forward to continuing to work with Cardiff Council and partners as the plans progress."
Sophie Howe, The Future Generations Commissioner, said, "I am pleased to see Cardiff Council is thinking and planning long-term, creating a transport strategy that looks to improve the health and well-being of people and wildlife in Wales. Creating low-carbon, integrated transport infrastructure, investing in active travel and identifying future trends in the growth of the city's population and new technology available for moving around the city, are exactly the kind of things our cities need to be doing in the interests of future generations.
"I expect to see other public bodies moving in the same direction as Cardiff Council and working to implement their duties under the Well-being of Future Generations Act."
The White Paper highlights, “Cycling and walking are the greenest and healthiest ways to travel; they generate less pollution and help keep us fit. Active travel can even improve children's performances at school. Currently the active travel network of safe, attractive and convenient cycle and pedestrian routes is fragmented and incomplete.”
The White Paper outlines how the Council will build a high-quality, fully segregated cycle network by 2026. This will include a complete cycle loop around the city centre which will connect to each of six cycleways, which will be built through a number of districts across the city.
The nextbike hire scheme will be expanded to at least 2000 bikes and new regional nextbike opportunities will be introduced to give more people the opportunity to join the scheme.
The Council will also roll out the ‘Streets for Health Initiative', so that streets are reclaimed as healthy public spaces for the public to enjoy.
Active travel plans will be launched in schools across the city to promote walking, scooting or cycling and speed limits on Cardiff's roads will be set to 20mph by default.
The Future Use of the Car:
The Council will significantly increase the number of electric charging points across Cardiff by 2025 to encourage the take up of electric vehicles. The Council's fleet of vehicles will be fully electric or ‘zero emission capable' for 2025.
Car Clubs giving members access to vehicles 24-hours-a-day will be expanded to reducing the need for residents to own their own car.
Infrastructure to support the wider region will be improved, Cllr Wild added, "We want to give everyone the opportunity to rethink how they get to work or travel into Cardiff and there is a move away from the car already happening.
"We now need to try to speed up this change in behaviour. We need to encourage people to consider alternative travel options, to get them out of their cars or to think about car sharing.”
You can view the White Paper in full here.
Information Source: Road Safety Wales