Net Zero Targets and Decarbonising Transport — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:39 am on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Transport) (Buses) 10:39 am, 4th February 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point. I think that the issue is local accountability. Certainly, when we look at franchising in the country as a whole, it is clear that the franchising system has worked extremely well in London where it was retained. There is a widespread desire among Mayors and other leading figures in local government to expand franchising. I ask the Minister to allow all local authorities to consider both franchising and remunicipalising bus companies to improve services in areas such as the hon. Gentleman’s constituency and many others around the country, including rural constituencies.

I appreciate the pressure of time, Ms Nokes, and will be brief on my final point. As Alex Chalk pointed out, it is crucial that we do not address transport just through vehicles, but look at active travel. There is huge scope in this country to encourage walking and cycling. Points were made about the topography of some British cities, but they do not apply in many parts of the country. Many urban and many semi-rural areas are relatively flat, but we perform very badly compared with other northern European countries. We are way below the levels that we should be achieving. At the moment, the projected increases in walking and cycling are not taking place—we are clearly flatlining. When we look at the wider context of the lack of investment in this area compared with road transport, it is clear that greater capital investment is needed. That is why we would have committed substantial moneys to that, and I urge the Minister to do that.

In my own town of Reading, the simple measure of a bridge across the Thames specifically for walking and cycling has led to a transformation in the journeys made by commuters to Reading station. That is a simple example of the many benefits of capital investment in this sphere. That issue has been noted as regards London and Manchester, and I am sure that the Minister will address it in his closing remarks.

I am aware of the time, Ms Nokes, but I also ask the Minister, as he considers this, to please talk to his colleagues in other Departments and integrate policy with wider measures to tackle climate change.