At its latest meeting on September 17th 2020, the Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority (RTA), which comprises elected transport portfolio leads from the ten local authorities in South-East Wales, has announced a series of updates on the Metro Central, Metro Plus and ULEV Schemes.
The investment in Metro Central aims to create a sustainable, integrated transport hub that significantly enhances access to central Cardiff as well as being a positive catalyst further across the region.
Development and funding of the programme involves a partnership between the public and private sector organisations. The Welsh Government (WG), Cardiff Capital Region, Network Rail, Cardiff Council and private developer Rightacres Property, collectively known as the Metro Central Development Partnership (MCDP), are all fully committed to working together to deliver the programme.
Currently £113m has been allocated by a combination of Department for Transport, Welsh Government and the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal funding, and work in currently progressing on the Programme Full Business Case (PFBC).
The process will bring together core requirements around transport and the economy, along with wider partners and stakeholders that form part of the wider Delivery Partnership, all of which have a clear interest in the commercial, economic and societal benefits that must emerge from this programme.
Arup, Atkins and PA Consulting were appointed in July 2020 to undertake the first phase of the PFBC work. Expectation is the first part of this work will be completed by mid-October.
Cllr. Huw David, Leader, Bridgend County Borough Council and Chair of the CCR RTA said: “This is our Flagship Transport scheme and I am pleased that in close partnership with Cardiff Council, TfW, DfT and WG we are making good progress on development that will bring significant benefit to the whole region.
“It is essential that we proceed at pace to deliver a modern public transport system that is capable of delivering the requisite service levels to our communities and our businesses.”
The question of a potential post covid-19 impact on demand supply was discussed at length, and it was confirmed that a study is being commissioned to look at the various scenarios and their implications. However, despite the fact that there is predicted to be a permanent increase in people working from home, an effective public transport system is a prerequisite for achieving our wider ambitions around connectivity, accessibility and for reducing congestion and air pollution caused by the extremely high car usage in the region.
Kellie Beirne Director CCR City Deal said: “We need to effect a modal shift from car to public transport usage. To achieve our ambitions around a “green recovery” we need to significantly change the balance from its current 80% car usage versus 10% public transport and 10% active travel. That is not going to happen unless we improve our transport infrastructure on a pan regional basis. That is why I am delighted to be able to report significant progress on this business case which is taking us ever closer to being able to commence development on this pivotal programme”
Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV)
Subsequent to the CCR award in June this year of £1.3m from the Welsh Government Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Transformation Fund, to assist with the ambition to transform the network to ULEV and help reach the targets of zero emissions from buses and taxis by 2028, the RTA is pleased to report that substantial progress has been made.
WSP Consultancy has been appointed to provide support and advice on the installation of electric vehicle charge points at taxis ranks and at transport hubs across the region.
Local authorities have agreed potential locations for siting ULEV infrastructure, and these are being assessed with a view to formulating a programme of initial charge point locations at taxi ranks, car park, on-street and at transport hubs across the region. The site review work to date has included discussion with Western Power Distribution, the local Distribution Network Operator to carry out feasibility and seek costs on the installation of charge points in South Wales.
The next stage will include engagement with each of the local authorities and the output will be a list of locations (taxi ranks and transport hubs) confirmed by all interested parties.
In parallel, work has commenced on the procurement of a supplier for the charging points. This has involved consultation with both Cardiff City Council and Gwent who have had experience of such procurement. The intention currently is to tender by the end of September with appointment taking place in the autumn.
Cllr. Huw David, Leader, Bridgend County Borough Council and Chair of the CCR RTA said: “It is heartening to see such progress being made in an area that is so critical to our plans for a greener future. The shift from petrol to electric is a fundamental part of our vision for improved air quality and reduced pollution across the region and the Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority is totally committed to making this programme a success.”
Achieving the aims however will require the winning of hearts and minds of our taxis and transport operators and this has been made difficult by the restrictions Covid-19 has put on the organisation of roadshows and events.
Cllr Geraint Thomas from Merthyr County Borough Council reinforced the point that it is critical we demonstrate just how cost effective it can be to make that switch and that financial support packages will be available to assist that process.
There are plans to stage a number of roadshows just as soon as we are able to where we will be able to discuss supply chain concerns, insurance implications, loan option as well as introducing taxi users that have made the switch and be able to hear about their experiences first hand.
In the interim it was confirmed that despite no incentivisation funding being awarded for transitions, a further submission was under consideration by WG and that this would potentially include supporting leasing schemes or try before you buy arrangements to allow taxi drivers to get experience of a Ulev vehicle prior to making the switch.
Cllr. Huw David, Leader, Bridgend County Borough Council and Chair of the CCR RTA said: “I must reiterate how important it is we take a regional approach to this programme. We need a consistent approach for the delivery of charging infrastructures and standardisation of design and payment to make it easy for our communities to embrace. It is great to see the level of collaboration taking place across the region and I am confident this programme will go from strength to strength and deliver real benefit to us all.”
All Metro Phase 1 projects, a £50m programme of 10 Local Transport initiatives across each of the 10 LA’s, are progressing in line with expectations. However, the delivery of the projects has been affected by a few months due to COVID 19.
Delivery highlights include:
- Pontypool & New Inn Park & Ride. This Scheme is now out for tender with start date anticipated February 2021
- Barry Docks Interchange. Production of the full business case is on target and in line with plans for scheme delivery in 2021.
- Porth Interchange design. This is on target with a truly integrated approach with Transport for Wales, where the building will offer share facilities for bus and rail.
- The project being delivered in Cardiff has opened up the opportunity for a much larger bus and active travel scheme around the City Centre, which levers a much improved offer not just for the residents of Cardiff, but for the Region and its visitors, to enjoy the facilities that our City has to offer.
Cllr. Geraint Thomas from Merthyr County Borough Council noted that this programme in aggregation is a significant infrastructure enhancement programme that will bring significant business and social benefit to all our communities across the region and that it represented an excellent example of what can be achieved through collaborative working.
Cllr. Caro Wild from Cardiff Council acknowledged the great work that had taken place to date and expressed a desire to see a healthy pipeline of further local transport initiatives geared around creating sustainable modes of transport across the whole region
Cllr. Huw David, Leader, Bridgend County Borough Council and Chair of the CCR RTA said: “I am delighted to see our Metro Plus programme is demonstrating continued good progress. We are delivering in every one of the 10 Local authorities to ensure that the benefits are seen across the region. I commend the team for the excellent work to date keeping all these projects moving forward through what has been an extremely difficult time.”