The new strategy aims to encourage people out of their cars, with a new target for 45% of journeys to be by sustainable means across Wales by 2045, up from 32% currently.
‘Llwybr Newydd – New Path’ commits to reducing transport emissions as part of efforts to tackle the climate emergency. Currently transport makes up 17% of Wales’ carbon emissions.
The range of measures include a road-user charging scheme, a new national default speed limit of 20mph in residential areas, tackling pavement parking and closing roads for vehicle traffic to free up more space for walking and cycling.
It also reiterates the Welsh Government’s opposition to the M4 relief road around Newport, and instead “work with the UK Government to develop the rail element as part of the wider solution to congestion on the M4”. This is alongside a commitment to press-on with the three metro rail schemes in South East Wales, Swansea Bay and North Wales.
New bus legislation is also proposed that gives the public sector more control over local bus services.
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said: “Llwybr Newydd is a landmark moment and will help to fundamentally re-shape transport in Wales. It will encourage new and greener infrastructure and change the way we make decisions about investment in transport right across the country.
“The climate emergency is very real and it means we must take urgent action to reduce the carbon footprint of the transport system in Wales. That’s why we have set bold new targets for more sustainable transport forms like walking, cycling and public transport. This will help reduce reliance on the car by making the sustainable alternatives more appealing.
“Doing this means investing in high quality public transport alternatives and that’s why we are providing more than £210m in transport schemes that will contribute to ambitions in our new plan.
“We’ve made a good start, with major investment in things like Metro, but we know we need to go further and faster and Llwybr Newydd sets us on the path to a transport system genuinely fit for future generations.”
Lee Waters, Deputy Economy and Transport Minister, added: “A greener transport network will only be achieved if we can provide people with convenient alternatives to the car. Investing in trains, buses and cycle routes will not only help people get around but will make it easier to take choices that protect our planet and contribute to social justice.
“We are delivering this strategy in a pandemic but that isn’t going to stop us being bold. In fact it only makes it more important – high quality public transport will be critical to a fairer, greener and more equal recovery after Covid.
“The rise in remote working highlights the major changes underway in our economy. Local journeys are particularly well-suited to cycling and walking and we’re building a transport network that meets the needs of the future, not the needs of the past.”
As part of the £115m investment being announced in local authority funding, nearly £47m is being spent on active travel schemes, helping develop routes that support walking and cycling.
A further £6.4m is being committed through the Safe Routes in Communities fund, with a particular focus on school routes. Another £20m will be confirmed through the Active Travel Fund later in the financial year, taking the total dedicated active travel spend to £75m – up from £5m at the start of this Senedd term.
The Local Transport Fund will commit £28.9m to projects to support Wales’ transport network. Applications were assessed against the sustainable transport hierarchy set out in Llwybr Newydd, with emphasis given to improving public transport reliability and journey times.
A further £9m has been allocated to local authorities to move to zero emission vehicles and to roll-out charging infrastructure. Next week the Welsh Government will also publish its Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy to boost confidence for drivers wanting to use electric vehicles.
The Roads Resilience Fund, worth £17.4m, is in place to address disruptions caused by severe weather to the highway network, especially to the public transport network.
Another £3m is being committed to the North Wales Metro, helping to create an accessible, integrated transport system for people in the region.
Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner said: “This is a transport strategy with people, climate and the Well-being of Future Generations Act at the centre of how we’ll move and connect in Wales.
“It’s good news for people who want to enjoy greener and better-connected communities, good news for people suffering with the ill health effects of traffic-induced emissions and pollution, good news for jobs and the economy, and good news for our children and grandchildren.
“I’m pleased that Welsh Government has accepted my Future Generations Report and Manifesto for the Future recommendation and set a target for a modal shift to sustainable transport. As we move to 45% of journeys to be made by public transport, walking and cycling by 2040, we need to remove social barriers and address equality issues so everyone in Wales can enjoy the benefits of this change, particularly those without access to a car and those living in rural areas.
“Together, these new priorities on improving digital connectivity, supporting local services and home working, and encouraging people to use better, sustainable transport will improve our health, tackle poverty and open our transport system to all.”
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