Tag Archives: transport

Manchester re-enforces its bid to become England’s second city

As a (near-)Brummie, I can vouch there there has always been a rivalry with Manchester and Birmingham, vying for the position of England’s second city. Well, I think Manchester may well have clinched it yesterday by bagging £1.5bn of central Government funding from the Transport Innovation Fund, which unlocks a £3bn improvement programme for Manchester’s transport system. This enables a pretty comprehensive programme of modernisation funding to develop a world-class transport system. The list of planned improvements is impressive, covering tram, bus (including a fleet of dedicated yellow school buses), trains, park & ride, cycling, smart card technology, eight new transport interchanges etc. etc.

But, at what cost? As the press widely reports, this funding is only enabled because Manchester is considering a dual-ring congestion charging zone, in part to fund the transport investments but also to limit demand and encourage behavioural change.

This is a big step for national policy and a huge step for Manchester itself. Formally, the situation is that Ruth Kelly was annoucing on the 9th June that Manchester had achieved a stage-gate called “programme entry”. This means that the Government support the package in principle, have provisionally made the money available and commit themselves to working closely with Greater Manchester as it develops its proposals in the coming months.

You can find out what Ruth Kelly actually said in her annoucement to parliament at the wonderful theyworkforyou.com, or watch it as a video. You can also see the actual responses from the various local MPs.

Sir Richard Leese, as leader of Manchester City Council, was of course at the centre of the annoucements.


The power of unreasonable people

The definate highlight of the Innovation Edge conference, hosted by NESTA at the Royal Festival Hall yesterday, was Sir Bob Geldof. The whole theme of the morning was about hearing from people who have actually changed the world. Sir Bob was preceeded by Tim Berners-Lee – who else could casually say “I invented the worldwide web because ….”.

I can’t resist a few sound-bites from Sir Bob (or George Bernard-Shaw):
– “Never under-estimate the power of unreasonable people … they have a restlessness to change the world”
– “Every idea has its time, a perfect syncronicity with their need at a moment in time”
– “Everything is running out: water, oil, time, …”; and of course:
– “Poverty is shit” .

Bob Geldof has enough on his plate with solving poverty and I was left thinking who is our champion for actually doing something about climate change and facing upto the fact that, not only is the transport sector the largest end-use category of emissions in the UK, but also it contibutes the most significant increase in our carbon foot-print year-on-year. Eddington predicts twice as many cars on our roads by 2050, Stern says that we need to reduce our carbon foot-print by 60-80%. “Do the math” as the Americans would say … How are we going to sort out this fine mess?

P.S.> I should have mentioned that the Prime Minister was there as well, so atleast there is is some top-cover for the innovation agenda in Government circles.