By Aliraza Manji
A £2 a day congestion charge could be part of a £2 billion investment package to develop Cardiff’s transport infrastructure.
These changes are part of Cardiff Council’s White Paper unveiled on January 15, 2020 named “Transport Vision to 2030”. This follows on from the Green Paper in 2018 seeking input from the public identifying their transport priorities and how to make Cardiff’s air cleaner.
On January 30, a vote to note the Transport White Paper passed comfortably with 49 for, 3 voting against and 20 abstaining.
These proposals have four aims: to tackle the climate emergency; reduce congestion in Cardiff; improve air quality; and improve public transport infrastructure. This initiative came about following a report by the World Health Organisation in May 2018 which listed Cardiff in a list of 30 towns and cities in the UK with high levels of air pollution, verging on exceeding the limit of 10 milligrams per cubic metre. Furthermore, Public Health Wales estimated that 220 deaths of people aged 30 or over could have been attributed to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution.
Councillor Huw Thomas, Cardiff Council Leader said: “The future success of Cardiff hinges on getting transport right in the city. There cannot be anyone who is happy with the current state of affairs which is why we are bringing forward this ambitious ten-year vision”.
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning & Transport, believes that this ambitious project will solve the transport issues in Cardiff as the “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”.
He also said that “the climate emergency is changing how we feel about our future. It is beginning to shape our behaviour and point towards the action we will all have to take to save the planet for our children and grandchildren. Getting our transport system right is so important for our city’s future and our children’s future too.”
These proposed changes will drastically change the way Cardiff’s network operates and hopes to reduce car usage from 49% where it currently stands to 25% by 2030 while aiming to increase the respective uses of walking to 43% and buses, railways and trams to 33%.
Some of the key proposals include:
- The Cardiff Metro: This will be an extension of the currently developing South Wales Metro. The new metro will deliver a Crossrail tram-train line integrating the Bay and City lines with up to four services per hour in both directions, this will then be extended to the new communities in the West and East of the city by 2030. A Cardiff Circle line will complete an orbital route around the city, this will include a new Mainline Train Station at Cardiff Parkway, in St Mellons.
- Rapid Bus Services: A new electric bus network, linking up the new metro system. The new network will utilise SMART bus corridors and will be given priorities at traffic lights. These buses are aiming to be an efficient and affordable mode of transport with £1 journeys. The new bus interchange is set to be opened in 2022.
- Citywide Cycleways: The creation of new cycle routes will be central to the future of Cardiff, with the creation of 6 new cycleways looping and linking the city centre with the wide outreaches of Cardiff, including the Bay. This will include the expansion of the Nextbike hire service creating 2000 new available cycles across the city, to increase safety there will be a 20-mph limit in the city. This aims to be completed by 2026.
- Integrated ticketing system: There will be a new ticketing system which will be usable on all modes of public transport in Cardiff; including the metro, bus and Nextbike.
- Congestion Charge: This proposed charge aims to reduce congestion in Cardiff as in 2018 it was found that 143 working hours were lost to congestion. This charge will be applied to non-Cardiff residents at a rate of £2 a day, the money raised will go towards the new transport network.
The project is set to complete over the next decade, with Metro Phase One completing in 2022 along with a new Cardiff Central Bus Station. Crossrail Phase One is expected to be completed by 2024 with the opening of a line linking Radyr and Cardiff Bay. The full cycle network is expected to be completed by 2025 and the new Metro network opening in 2028.
While many questions remain among the public about whether this ambitious project can be followed through, it seems the Council are looking to address long-standing public concerns with this project.
To find out more about the Council’s white paper click here.