Congestion Management Study - Further information
The study, ‘Gridlock or Growth – Choices and Challenges for the Future’, has been carried out by independent experts commissioned by all the West Midlands Metropolitan Authorities and the Passenger Transport Authority.
Published on Friday 22nd September as a Green Paper for Discussion, the study concludes that if action is not taken congestion across the area will grow by nearly a quarter (22 per cent) on current levels by 2021 with West Midlands roads filled by an extra 469,000 journeys each day. This additional congestion would cost local business and commuters an additional £205m every year.
The Green Paper also begins to examine the impact that different solutions, including car-sharing, home-working and road pricing, might have on congestion.
The study indicates that a combination of substantial public transport investment together with road charging could reduce the number of vehicle trips on West Midlands roads by 180,000 per day (2001 to 2021). But it points to the need for much more work and further consultation before any decisions are taken.
Cllr Ted Richards, Leader of Solihull Council and Chairman of the West Midlands Joint Committee said:
“When the Metropolitan Authorities formally receive this study on 29 September they will need to take time to absorb its contents and decide on next steps. At the same time, we want businesses and individuals to get involved in this critical debate. We know that congestion is one of the biggest challenges the region faces, and as local council leaders we have a responsibility to look at what choices are available.”
Coventry Chief Executive Stella Manzie, who chaired the study team steering group, said:
“The evidence of this report suggests that the status quo is not sustainable if we are to get to grips with congestion, which is increasingly damaging our competitiveness and quality of life.
“No decisions about the way forward have been made. We will now engage in consultation and dialogue with the people of the city region on the issues the report raises. Any decision on road pricing would require greater clarity on national policy and clear commitments to significant additional investment in public transport.”
EXPLORING ALL OPTIONS
The study team tested three future scenarios. Each scenario includes a package of different measures which have been modelled and tested for the impact they can make on future congestion levels:
Scenario A: The West Midlands carries on as it has done up until now, maintaining current funding levels and polices. The evidence shows this would lead to an additional 469,000 car trips per day on West Midlands roads (2001 to 2021).
Scenario B: Puts a greater focus on individual and collective ‘lifestyle choices’ as means of influencing traffic demand, e.g. car sharing, home working and greater public transport promotion. The evidence suggests this could slow the increase in congestion, but car trips would still increase by 317,000 per day (2001 to 2021).
Scenario C: This would involve building on the measures outlined in Scenarios A and B, but also includes a significant package of public transport investment and an element of road user charging. The evidence suggests this would reduce the number of vehicle trips on West Midlands roads by 181,000 per day (2001 to 2021).
For Scenario C, a number of different road user charging schemes were scoped out for the West Midlands to model credibly their impact on traffic. These models do not represent road pricing policy for the region.
The investment package (up to £2 billion to be spent before the introduction of any road pricing scheme and £2 billion after any road pricing were introduced), would include
- Investment in commuter rail services
- Midland Metro
- Innovative bus services such as Bus Rapid Transit
- Park and Ride schemes
- Enhanced bus networks
- Highway improvements, amongst other priorities.
More work will now be done, in parallel to the Metropolitan Authorities receiving the discussion paper, to better understand how different solutions will impact on congestion, on business competitiveness and the environment, and on local people.
Cllr Richards added: “No decisions will be taken without further public debate and discussion. We are committed to tackling congestion, but only with solutions that are workable and fair, and that can be shown to help, not hinder, the West Midlands’ competitive position.”