How do you specify future transport provision when it is not clear what the future will be? A recent blogpost by Transport for the North got us thinking (Benefits of a ‘decide and provide’ approach to transport planning | Insight -Transport for the North). Can uncertainty be turned into an opprtunity to shape what happens instead of trying to predict? Traditionally predictions based on trends drove provision – predict and provide. Put crudely, that could mean “more people are using cars, let’s build more roads”. An alternative says decide and provide. What sort of future do we want in a better world after Covid? Needs will be different and unpredictable. But everyone will still want to travel. So how about setting out a zero-carbon, low congestion, healthy, sociable transport system, based on active travel and good public transport? You’d still have to win people over to the idea – including car users who are understandably hesitant.
“Today,” writes one of our commuters, “The 0807 was late, and therefore extra full. By Bradford it was heaving.” The 0749 Halifax-York should be 3-car but sometimes we get: “Only two carriages. Only just got on at Halifax. Several gave up trying. Delayed as last few tried to squeeze on. Will be standing all way to Leeds…” And more: “Only a handful could get on at New Pudsey – must have left more than 50 on the platform. A bit of swearing too.” No wonder people get angry. A phone picture conveys something of the nightmare. Arriva (Northern) promise 37% more peak capacity with new trains by 2020. But why is a train planned for three carriages at present so often only two? We fear worse before it gets better. Halifax-Leeds passengers at present have the 5-car 0728 using an intercity train hired from Grand Central. This highly successful service was not shown in the draft timetable circulated earlier this year for May 2018, leaving a peak-hour 23 minute gap in Halifax-Leeds departures from 0718 to 0741. In other words a reduction in service.
We made our views known in HADRAG’s response to the draft timetable and specifically asked for the GC train to be kept until all the new stock arrives.