Response to M4 report findings: Building future communities with clean, affordable and accessible transport
“The debate around the future of the chronically congested M4 has been too much about the needs of the car and not enough about the needs of the people of South East Wales and our environment.
The South East Wales Transport Commission’s final report is a shift away from that – a vision of a properly integrated and properly funded public transport system which would make huge improvements to quality of life for communities in Newport, Cardiff and beyond.
New rail stations for places not served by access to trains, rapid bus and cycle corridors – these are exciting proposals and exactly the sort of vision set out by our groundbreaking Well-being of Future Generations Act.
We’ve long debated the impact on congestion from doing nothing along the M4 corridor – well now we have the chance to do something: to act and make change, to support the growth of one of Wales’ most important economic regions, to cut pollution and make this an even more attractive place to live and do business.
Critically, these proposals would remove thousands of car journeys not just from a log-jammed stretch of the M4, but from a regional road network already creaking under the sheer volume of traffic – traffic which was only set to grow and grow if we don’t give people realistic options to change the way they travel.
The Well-being of Future Generations Act allows us to make brave decisions to take us towards the Wales we want to see and this could be a landmark moment for Wales’ transport system and testament to the change that the Act is bringing about.
This must be the first of many redesigns of how we build the communities of the future with transport which is clean, affordable and – crucially – accessible.
It is critical that Welsh Government now establish and resource a joint delivery team empowered with a clear remit and budget to put these plans in place, as recommended in the report. This should include key local authority players and public transport, active travel and community experts to get these plans moving.”
Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.
Some of the South East Wales Transport Commission’s recommendations:
- Upgrading rail tracks, adding more train stops, increasing the number of stations between Cardiff and the River Severn.
- Coordinated ticketing and bus and rail timetables.
- A new governance model to create a ‘single guiding mind’ to organise the whole public transport network.
- Measures to reduce the need to travel, including superfast broadband-enabled remote working sites so people can work closer to home.
- A transport-focused approach to planning, ensuring developments are built around the public transport network rather than the motorway.
- Rapid bus and cycle corridors across the region, especially Newport.
Notes to editors
- The South East Wales Transport Commission was set up to recommend ways to reduce congestion on the M4 motorway without building a new relief road around Newport.
- First Minister Mark Drakeford rejected the proposals for the relief road in June 2019. The Future Generations Commissioner said the road, which would have cut into the biodiversity-rich Gwent Wetlands, was incompatible with the Well-being of Future Generations legislation.
- Not only did the project not align with Wales’ carbon reduction targets, she said, it also went against the Act’s well-being goals of supporting the resilience of ecosystems and a healthier Wales. It also did not take into account future trends such as increased homeworking – something which has been fast forwarded as a result of COVID-19 and research suggests is likely to become a new normal with the potential to reduce congestion on our roads.
Sophie Howe makes recommendations for more sustainable travel in her Manifesto for the Future. They include:
- A decrease on road infrastructure spending, and an increase on public transport and active travel spending, including the introduction of free public transport for young people in Wales.
- Investing in better ways to connect and move people through improving digital connectivity, active travel and public transport.
- Setting a national target for modal shift to enable people to adopt low carbon modes of travel
- Allocating at least 50% of capital transport spend on improving bus and train services. (Currently around 62% of the transport capital budget is being spent on building new roads)
- Investing in responding to the Climate and Nature Emergency – commit to increasing spend year on year
- Making broadband a critical public service.
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