North Tyneside Lib Dem candidate vows to make public transport a priority
North Tyneside Lib Dem candidate calls for public transport commitments for constituents
North Tyneside Lib Dem General Election candidate Greg Stone has launched a 5 point plan to ensure public transport is high on the agenda for the constituency at the General Election on June 8th.
Greg, who was the Lib Dem leader on the former Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority before its abolition, is launching an action plan for public transport as part of his manifesto for North Tyneside constituents, citing concerns over the reliability of existing public transport infrastructure like the Metro, cuts to bus services, congestion and air pollution on key routes, and forthcoming major works which are set to disrupt commuters.
1 Restoring the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority
Greg is concerned that the North East Combined Authority is failing to ensure public accountability for public transport performance. The Combined Authority is struggling to achieve progress on joint working between the Tyne & Wear councils, with a breakaway North of Tyne devolution deal being mooted. This raises the prospect of separate structure for public transport north and south of the Tyne. If the Combined Authority is wound up and there is no elected mayor, the ITA must be restored, ensuring proper scrutiny and accountability of delivery of public transport, the road network, and the Tyne crossings. At present this simply isn't happening, with Nexus being responsible for both strategy and delivery without true accountability to the public.
2 Guarantees on Metro reinvigoration
The Metro system is increasingly elderly and the current rolling stock is likely to become increasingly unreliable and unserviceable as it reaches the end of its working life in the next five years. This raises the disturbing prospect of increased delays and disruption if new units are not introduced soon. Ensuring the continued reliable operation of the Metro is vital for thousands of North Tyneside constituents who use the system to commute to work and get about the Tyneside area. Greg wants to see firm commitments from Government to fund the reinvigoration of the network.
3 Greater focus on air pollution
There is increasing concern over air pollution levels on several key routes in the area, including the Coast Road and the Tyne Tunnel approaches. Greg wants to see a clear local strategy to improve air quality monitoring and address congestion hotspots
4 Protection of key local bus routes
Greg is campaigning against the forthcoming removal of the Stagecoach number 1 bus service between Four Lane Ends interchange and Coach Lane campus, removing access to a key bus service for residents of the Four Lane Ends and Longbenton areas. Greg has already collected dozens of signatures on a petition against the changes, which mean that North Tyneside residents will no longer have access to one of the major bus routes serving Newcastle city centre. Stagecoach are citing concerns and delays experienced to the service using the Four Lane Ends junction due to congestion. He is also concerned that further cuts to Nexus's subsidised bus services are likely in coming years as a result of funding pressures exacerbated by Nexus's wasting of millions of pounds on its failed bus quality contracts scheme.
5 Free Public Transport Day
Greg is advocating the introduction of a "Free Public Transport Day", as pioneered in Europe and cities in the US - and is calling for it to coincide with the first day of major works on Killingworth Road when the Metro bridge is replaced, which is anticipated to cause significant traffic problems. Commuters into Newcastle using Killingworth Road, or from Newcastle to the Quorum business park, are set to face major disruption in coming months from further junction works. Greg wants Nexus and bus operators to consider introducing the initiative to encourage drivers to switch to public transport for the day so that they can experience the convenience of public transport alternatives.
Greg says: "I believe public transport is a key issue for many North Tyneside constituents. Reducing the number of car journeys, congestion, and air pollution is an increasingly important issue. I don't want to restrict car use but I do think it's important to ensure quality public transport provision to encourage more people to leave the car at home if they don't need to use it. It's vitally important that concerns about availability and reliability are addressed, with a very real risk that the Metro system could grind to a halt in the next few years if new units are not introduced. I intend to make this a key priority for the North Tyneside constituency at the General Election."