15 September 2010

Nottingham's lack of car dependency

Yesterday, Nottingham was named as the city least-dependent on the car of 19 surveyed in the UK, while Milton Keynes was at the opposing end of the same scale. The latter doesn't surprise me, not least because 50 years ago it didn't exist and was built with the private motorist in mind. Older - ancient, even - cities suffer from this lack of foresight(!) and have to adapt accordingly.

If one of the UK's largest New Towns is the most dependent on car usage, perhaps the narrow, meandering streets of our country's city centres positively encourage public transport usage through a form of natural congestion that the motor car faces.

There does seem to be something of an irony here. If Nottingham is least-dependent on the private car then how does it hope to gain the most from the proposed Workplace Parking Levy (WPL)? Surely something of this type ought best be applied to Milton Keynes, or indeed any city that has a very high car usage. The Campaign for Better Transport, who produced the findings quote Milton Keynes as being: "...designed for the car. Those with cars can get to work in under 10 minutes, but those without a car struggle to get around."

Apply the fruits of the WPL's labour to improving transport in Milton Keynes, then.

We've skirted round the main issue though. Nottingham's lack of car addiction comes from the excellent alternatives on offer. Not just the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) light rail network, which now carries in excess of 10 million people annually, but both major bus operators have won the Bus Operator of the Year Award on more than one occasion over the past decade or so. Council-owned Nottingham City Transport (NCT) and Wellglade-owned Trent Barton ensure Nottingham's streets are patrolled by very frequent buses, all very well turned out. Services along the relatively new Robin Hood Line, operated by East Midlands Trains operate reliably and to a regular pattern, as do the TOC's other services into the LEYTR area and further afield to London and Birmingham.

And who knows how many more cars could be left at home if NCT chose to drop its exact fare policy!!

We'll find out next month when the Spending Review is made known whether NET's extensions will be given the go-ahead (the clever money is on this being dropped, but we hope not). The forthcoming WPL was to part-pay for these additions to the existing network, in addition to many bus-priority measures in and around the city.

If Nottingham's projected revenue from the WPL is so high, despite the city now being named as the least-dependent on the private car, imagine the comparative revenues to be generated by cities that rely heavily on motorists being able to access and park in the central business districts.

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