Broken transport networks having ‘crippling effect’ on access to jobs, PM warned

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A Conservative think-tank has warned that the broken public transport network is having a “crippling effect” on access to jobs in cities and towns where Boris Johnson aims to “level up”.

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In a new report, Onward reveals areas where outdated transport connectivity leaves employment opportunities inaccessible and describes a “staggering transport gap” between north and south.

Supported by a “flattening” of the parliamentary workforce – comprising 65 Conservative MPs – claims that public transport in London nearly quadruples residents’ access to jobs and opportunities.


However, in Newcastle and Glasgow, public transport only increases access to jobs by a third, the report said, urging the government to prioritize transport in towns and cities as part of its “flattening” agenda. has gone.

It comes after the prime minister delivered a keynote speech at a Conservative Party convention on Wednesday that boasted about his election slogan to flatten the country – but criticized for being “empty” on the policy.

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Earlier this week, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham urged the government to accept its “flatten” deal for the region with a support package including a “London-style” transport system.

The Labor mayor suggested there was a “disgraceful” disparity between transportation costs in the capital and elsewhere and would not wait until the prime minister struggled to define his leveling project.

Ahead of the long-promised government white paper on “flattening” – expected before the end of 2021 – the Onward think-tank said that in some regions, including Stoke-on-Trent and Bolsovar, workers only reach three-quarters of the time. can. of local jobs within an hour on public transport.

“This compares to some cities in the hinterland of London, such as Redbridge, Barnet or Epping Forest, where an hour on public transport unlocks access to seven times more jobs than jobs existing locally,” the authors said. .

The think-tank claims that the findings suggest that the government should “ruthlessly target transport investments for intra-city networks of regional cities – in particular Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham”.

“Outside the south of England, poor public transport is stifling opportunity and growth,” said James Blagden, the report’s author and Onward’s senior researcher.

“Improving connectivity within city areas and between city centers and outlying towns will be the key to leveling success”.

“All our major cities, except London, lag behind the national average for public transport connectivity. Mass transit increases access to jobs by 51 percent in Birmingham and 35 percent in Newcastle, but in London it rises to 270 percent.

Will Tanner, Onward’s director and former No. 10 consultant, said: “The leveling up should be far greater than transportation projects alone. But this report reveals the serious impacts that the breakdown of public transport networks can have on many regional towns and cities. are falling on access to jobs in the state, which the government expects to level up.

“A job seeker in Halifax or Mansfield today can access half the number of jobs as someone in Aldershot or Horsham – not because the local labor market is bigger, but because outdated public transport makes them more isolated. .

“It lowers wages, lowers regional productivity and also worsens social outcomes. If the government wants to increase economic opportunities, this is where transportation investment should go.”

High Peak MP Rob Largan welcomed the report, saying: “If leveling is anything to go by, it should be about fixing it and reducing transportation disparities between regions. I sincerely hope that the government will take this step.” Will take the report on the board carefully.


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