Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, recently released his new transport strategy and – in short – it looks fantastic. Crucially, the strategy recognises that transport is – literally – a means to an end and it really focuses on the question of how transport in London can contribute to that city being a great place. Here’s a snippet from the executive summary:
The Mayor’s Transport Strategy is the statutory document that sets out the policies and proposals of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to reshape transport in London over the next 25 years. It builds on the vision for a better London that the Mayor outlined in ‘A City for All Londoners’, and takes forward the approach set out in ‘Healthy Streets for London’. It is an ambitious strategy that puts people’s health and quality of life at the very heart of planning the city’s transport. Along with the new London Plan and the Mayor’s other strategies for economic development, the environment, housing, health inequalities and culture, it provides the blueprint for making London a city that is not only home to more people, but is a better place for all of those people to live in.
The challenges facing London are in many ways similar to those faced by Auckland. Rapid growth, limited space for building more roads, a need to reduce pollution and have the transport network play a much greater role in supporting great places – “healthy streets”. But unlike strategies in Auckland, which often seem apologetic (yeah we want to improve public transport but we don’t want to say that too boldly) the London transport strategy is unapologetic in its boldness:
What’s great about the strategy is how it clearly cuts to the point – modal shift towards public transport, walking and cycling. Such a strong, singular goal permeates throughout the plan and it is clearly explained how a modal shift is crucial to achieving all the goals of the plan.
The other core part of the strategy is its focus on the broad role of streets in supporting a healthy, vibrant city – not just as ways of shifting cars. This “healthy streets” focus is certainly something Auckland could learn a lot from:
There are also some great concepts for what a healthy street looks like. Cars are still welcome but definitely “put in their place”:
The big new project sitting at the heart of this plan is Crossrail 2 – a major new southwest-northeast rail corridor across Central London. Like the Elizabeth Line (formerly known as Crossrail) the scale of the project is immense (projected cost somewhere around £30 billion), putting some of our own investments into perspective:
There are some great goals embedded in the plan, including a strong “Vision Zero” commitment:
The obvious question is “how applicable is this to Auckland?” Obvious London is of a completely different scale in terms of its size, density and its extremely extensive and well developed public transport system. Yet much of the plan is really talking about what happens at the more local level, about considering streets as places and not traffic sewers and about recognising the outcomes of a good transport strategy are broad – supporting a healthy city, a safe city, reducing emissions, providing good travel options for all and supporting growth. It’s perhaps the clarity of the strategy which stands out – an over-arching goal of 80% of trips being by PT, walking and cycling.
Auckland’s most recent exercise in strategy transport planning – the Auckland Transport Alignment Project – is interesting to compare against this London Transport Strategy. On the one hand ATAP was incredibly conservative and full of compromise (unsurprising given its role). Road projects were still included, even though analysis said they probably weren’t necessary, the strategic direction seemed to think some of our arterial roads can become mini-motorways and it had a weird obsession with greenfield growth. But on the other hand it locked in a massive expansion of our strategic public transport network, confirmed the motorway network is now basically finished and proposed an extremely comprehensive form of road pricing.
Later this year a review of the Auckland Plan will update Auckland’s strategic approach to transport. We will follow its development closely and certainly hope it will be as bold and clear as London’s new transport strategy.