A new report from think tank IPPR North – Connecting Lines – has said that the incoming mayors for newly devolved city-regions need to consider innovative new approaches to local taxation and the integration of transport services.
The study, which was sponsored by Keolis UK, puts forward a series of recommendations on investment, integration and leadership, for both the future crop of directly elected Metro Mayors and central government.
Newly devolved English city-regions will be granted powers over local taxation - such as Business Rates, workplace parking levies and congestion charging - and the IPPR North report says these should be fully exploited in order to help fund investment into transport.
Calling specifically for the expansion of the number of tram networks, Connecting Lines draws on the example of Nottingham’s NET network, operated by Keolis, where its construction was funded by a new workplace parking levy.
Commenting on the study, Keolis UK chief executive, Alistair Gordon, said: “This report provides bold new thinking on the future of municipal transport in the UK and we’re proud to have supported its development.
“Transport is fundamental to the economic development of our city regions and this makes it essential to realising the gains that the devolution agenda is setting out to achieve.
The IPPR North study also recommends that the new mayors should better integrate public, private and commercial providers of transport in their cities under a ‘Total Transport’ model that consolidates spending by different public bodies from the same area. Writing in the report, the think tank argues that the forthcoming Buses Bill, which will give local authorities the power to franchise their own bus networks, should be the starting point for this approach.
The study’s third set of recommendations centred on leadership and how Metro Mayors should leverage their new democratic powers to enact change while balancing the needs of all their communities.
Mr Gordon added: “Connecting the Lines provides a roadmap for metro mayors and central government on how to capitalise on the opportunities created by civic devolution and what governance models we need to make any changes successful.”
The report was launched at a special event at Manchester’s Central Library on 10th March. Tony Lloyd, the interim mayor for Manchester, delivered a key note address ahead of a panel debate featuring Keolis UK’s chairman, Sir Mike Hodgkinson, Cllr Sean Antsee, the leader of Trafford Council, Isabel Dedring, deputy mayor of London for transport, Simon Warburton, head of policy and strategy at Transport for Manchester, and Richard Koch, head of policy for the UK Cards Association.
A copy of Connecting Lines can be downloaded here