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Transforming Travel – What Does the Future of Transport in Leeds Look Like?

· Ali Turner · Discussion

A new vision for transport in Leeds has been revealed and you can have your say.

Mass Transit Leeds

The Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy lays out a vision for Leeds where walking, cycling and green public transport become the most appealing, practical and best value choices. Complete the survey – it takes just 10 minutes!

It’s time to join the conversation and help to shape the future of transport in Leeds.

Over the last few years, millions of pounds have been invested in the city’s transport infrastructure. As a result, it’s now easier to walk, cycle and travel by public transport in Leeds, but we’re still very much at the start of this journey and our over-reliance on private cars continues to have a negative impact on our lives. So how do we fix it? That’s the question at the heart of the new Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy.

Where we are now

Cycle Super Highway

Transport is one of the hottest topics in Leeds – and it’s easy to see why. Like our Northern neighbours, we’ve suffered decades of under-investment as the bulk of funding has been directed to London and the South East. The effects of this are clear. A massive 61% of journeys in Leeds are made by car, our road and rail networks are at or near capacity at peak times and the resulting congestion costs millions of pounds in lost productivity.

The good news is, we’ve already made great strides. The city now has 172 kilometres of cycle networks, including the cycle superhighway between East Leeds and Bradford, and there are more routes on the way. We’ve also seen the completion of the new Southern Station Entrance and Kirkstall Forge railway station, as well as the addition of two successful Park and Ride facilities at Elland Road and Temple Green.

This, alongside major improvements to the city centre, including the transformation of the Headrow and the area around Leeds Corn Exchange, has helped us reduce our over-reliance on cars. But we still have a long way to go if we want to transform travel in Leeds, and we all have a role to play, which is why Leeds City Council wants everyone to have their say on the new Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy.

Where we want to be

Leeds Train Station HS2

The new strategy has three main objectives. The first is to tackle climate change. Leeds has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and transport accounts for up to 40% of all carbon emissions within Leeds, so they’re looking for ways to reduce car journeys, encourage active travel and improve the efficiency of the transport network.

The second is to deliver inclusive growth. That means improving productivity, supporting regeneration and helping people to access employment opportunities by investing in transport infrastructure. And the third? To improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in Leeds. Eliminating road danger is a big one here – they have an ambitious goal to have zero people killed or seriously injured on the city’s roads by 2040.

How we’re going to get there

Cycling Lanes

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Contakt Photography

The new transport strategy outlines six ‘big moves’ that will help us get where we need to go.

  • De-carbonising Transport. In order to meet our Climate Emergency targets, we have to change the way we travel. That means making it easier for people to walk, cycle and travel on public transport. It means exploring alternative fuels, installing electric charging points and switching to Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles. And beyond that, it means planting 5.8 million trees across the city over the next 25 years.
  • Creating healthier streets, spaces and communities. Too often, streets are designed for cars, not people, but what if they weren’t? What if we made active travel the easiest and best option wherever possible? That’s the plan. By developing a local walking and cycling infrastructure that’s connected to a wider integrated network for all modes, we can reduce car journeys and make travel better for everyone.
  • Transform the city centre. Moving the city centre from roads dominated by traffic to streets designed for people will require major investment, but it will create a world-class gateway that fuels growth. The new transport plan focuses on moving traffic around the city centre, rather than through it, something that will be made easier by their aims to close City Square to general traffic by 2022.
  • Better public transport. There’s an opportunity to improve existing public transport in Leeds by expanding the rail network, opening more park and ride stations and improving the reliability of buses. It’s estimated that up to 23% of car users could be tempted to travel by bus if they were quicker and more reliable, so the focus here is on upgrading key bus corridors and introducing new priority measures.
  • Adopting new technologies. Redeveloping the transport infrastructure isn’t enough, we need to adapt and innovate to make public transport easy and accessible for everyone. That means embracing new technology by introducing smart systems, shared mobility solutions and payment systems like London’s Oyster Card. And it means looking ahead, so the city is ready for automated vehicles when they arrive.
  • Deliver a mass transit network. Like any major city, our growth is restricted by a lack of transport capacity. Mass transit can help to plug that gap by increasing peak capacity in the city centre, making it easier for people to access jobs. This presents an unparalleled opportunity for Leeds, the city region, the north and the UK, so we need to work with our partners to secure the investment needed to deliver a mass transit network.
  • Have your say

    First bus

    The Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy will transform travel in Leeds, but before they start putting their plans into action, they want to know what you think. Check out the strategy summary, have your say and help shape the future of travel in Leeds!