Mass transit plans could affect Spen Greenway

By Chris Young
Local Democracy Reporter

THE CASE for a mass transit system which could affect the Spen Valley Greenway is being formulated by local transport bosses.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority recently proposed a ‘City Region Transit Network’ that would create new public transport links in local towns and cities, including some areas that currently have no rail links – such as Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton.

The plan is a long-term one, unlikely to be completed until the 2030s, but the Combined Authority is preparing a case to submit to the Department for Transport (DfT) later this month that will show the benefits of such a network.

The case will include details of how such a system would benefit the local economy and ease traffic congestion and pollution.

The authority says that while any such transport system would be costly, the “scale of the benefits which it delivers are also high.”

One of the lines that will make up the proposed system links Dewsbury to the university area of Leeds and Bradford city centre via Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton. 

The only clear route through the area is down the former rail line which is now used as the Spen Valley Greenway, a popular traffic-free route for cyclists and pedestrians.

The Authority’s Transport Committee is due to be updated on the case today (Friday) – just a few days before the DfT deadline.

A report going to the committee says: “Based on the forecast levels of demand, our future transport network is likely to require some form of mass transit system including Park and Ride, which is capable of transporting larger numbers of people than bus, bikes and cars can accommodate.

“The mass transit vehicles would be just one element of integrated future pipeline; the system would need to be integrated within the wider public transport offer, for example through bus services feeding the mass transit services.

“However lessons learnt from elsewhere suggest that there are also significant challenges associated with delivering mass transit.

“These include, for example, the scale of costs involved, integration with buses within the deregulated market, engineering/deliverability challenges, as well as ensuring value for money for both users and investors.

“Funding and financing is a major challenge both for development and construction – early identification of the funding strategy is essential. 

“Whilst the cost of implementing mass transit can be high, the scale of benefits which it delivers are also high.”

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