CambridgePPF Transport and City Deal
Cambridge’s chronic traffic congestion risks jeopardising the future prosperity of the city. Key staff for our expanding high-tech sector will not want to work in Cambridge if they are forced to live way out of town where house prices are more affordable if this means spending hours every day sitting in traffic jams trying to get to work. Resolving this problem will require creative thinking. With the £500million from the City Deal, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something really original and innovative. Unfortunately such high aspirations do not seem to be on the City Deal’s agenda.
The funding is to be targeted mainly at engineering projects designed to improve the traffic flow at bottlenecks, when evidence shows all this does is simply to move the congestion further down the road. CambridgePPF believes that what is needed is a fundamental re-think of the balance between the demand for road use by drivers and the capacity of the road network to accommodate this demand. The City Deal approach focuses on increasing capacity with the bulk of the funding allocated to engineering projects. We doubt whether on its own this will make the long-term difference we need. Instead we argue that investment in capacity must be accompanied by measures to reduce demand as part of a balanced package. We believe that drivers will give up their cars only if there is a reliable, efficient, and cheap (preferably free) public transport alternative, and that the best way of providing this alternative is for those who wish to continue using their cars to pay.
Some form of user charge could provide a sustainable source of funding to subsidise an efficient P&R bus service. This payment would need to include both internal city dwellers as well as external commuters. By combining with an emission charge so that bigger cars pay more, this will help make the charge more socially equitable whilst improving the city’s air quality. This approach and a number of other recommendations are set out in our statements below. The following button will take you directly to the Greater Cambridge City Deal website.