Friday, 25 May 2018

Casework's all about trains, buses and pedestrians...

A busy morning catching up on Council emails after my teaching week. The key theme today seemed to be transport.

Got in touch with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority about the new rail timetable between Saltaire and Bradford. A resident is worried about the longer gap between trains during the morning rush hour. It turns out that the number of Shipley-Bradford services remains the same, but that the gap between the peak trains has grown from 35 to 40 minutes. WYCA acknowledge that the gap should ideally be only 30 minutes, but that they are trying to accommodate additional Leeds services to meet rising demand. The good news is that they will ask Northern to reduce the Saltaire-Bradford gap when the timetable is refreshed in December.

Contacted the Area Managing Director of Yorkshire Tiger to find out more about their plans for services to the Higher Coach Road estate, where residents are concerned about their new bus timetable. Found out that the new service is secure for at least three years and that there are no plans to cancel it, which is great. But still trying to assess the extent to which the new bus service is less frequent than the old one. Will meet with residents in early June to chase this, and have contacted the transport authority for more info in the meantime.

Got hold of data from the wonderful Friends of the Earth that confirms illegally high levels of NO2 traffic pollution at the junction of Otley Road and Bradford Road, near the Branch Hotel. The pollution is also worryingly high in the playground at Shipley CE Primary School. The problem, of course, is high levels of traffic and diesel-powered vehicles, the result of decades of unsustainable transport policies from both Conservative and Labour governments. It's all about economic growth, with air quality and the health of our local communities very much sidelined in the list of priorities.

Have written to City Connect and the Canal and River Trust to ask them to upgrade the canal towpath in Saltaire for the benefit of walkers and cyclists - again, in response to concerns expressed by Shipley residents. There is a popular stretch near the mill that regularly becomes waterlogged and muddy, yet nothing has been done there for years. I've also asked City Connect if they are going to get around to dealing with the two unimproved parts of the towpath between Shipley and Apperley Bridge that were not upgraded as promised three years ago. I've asked before and they have done nothing about it, but thought I might as well pester them again. Tellingly, the money being wasted on demolishing the Branch Hotel would more or less pay for all these towpath improvements if our local decision-makers had the requisite vision and ambition.

Ultimately, of course, it all comes down to political priorities. We can continue to widen our road junctions, create more space for more traffic, pursue growth at all costs and allow vehicles to be sold in the UK that pump out pollution into our communities. Or we can invest more in better mass transit, clean, reliable train and bus services and attractive walking and cycle routes while quickly phasing out dangerous technologies like diesel engines (2040? Don't make me laugh).

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