Delivering Future City Transport - Manchester
February 24, 2014
The second in our roundtable series with the Smith Institute was held in Manchester on 30 January where the following central questions were explored: How can our cities deliver a better transport infrastructure and system over the next decade and beyond? And what key steps need to be taken now in order to realise our cities’ transport vision?
Manchester is planning for the long-term, with a 2040 horizon, and they are looking not just at transport solutions, but are taking a holistic view, asking questions of themselves such as: what kind of place does Manchester want to be and what do people want from their city? What are the social imperatives and what is needed to drive economic growth?
In other words, how do they create the type of city they envision and how does transport serve that vision?
Attendees felt that transport needs to reflect the new consumer behaviours that are being driven by a multi-destination economy and smart technology. People want convenience and flexibility at the best possible price; they don’t care who provides a particular train or bus service. And they want real-time information for all modes of transport.
From a funding perspective, there was consensus that transport shouldn’t be looked at in isolation, and that better outcomes might be realised if the funding pots were used differently. They spoke about the power of collaboration – particularly with the private sector - and the need for new funding models in relation to investment in the economic geography - which should be mapped to the city-region geography so that there’s a more joined-up approach along spending areas.
In addition, as journey-to-work areas are expanding, governance and delivery structures need to expand also. Attendees felt that the combined authority model in Manchester was working well to drive renewed investment in transport in addition to creating a decision-making organisation with a broader range of skills and capability within which to deliver their priority programmes. This led to a broader discussion about connecting the urban hubs across the North; attendees from Leeds are taking forward the combined authority and city-region model of Manchester and there was debate about how best to strengthen links across the Pennines.
Devolved decision-making can stabilise the funding necessary for long-term planning and deliver more than a centralised model. City/regional governance can work – providing better outcomes through joined-up policy and thinking.