Piccadilly Traffic

Regional cities top congestion table

Manchester suffers the worst traffic congestion of any English location outside London, according to the National Infrastructure Commission, with Liverpool close behind in second.

While cities dominate the upper end of the congestion league table, the highest location otherwise is Accrington & Rossendale, at 26th.

Chairman Sir John Armitt said that the fact cities hold the first 25 places of the whole league table demonstrates the clear need for major new investment in the UK’s urban transport networks.

To achieve this, the first National Infrastructure Assessment includes recommendations that greater powers be devolved to metro mayors and local leaders to improve urban transport, backed by an additional £43bn funding in the years to 2040.

Armitt has written to leaders of more than 50 cities offering support from the Commission – set up as an independent body to work with the Treasury – which plans to work directly with a small number of cities.

He said: “From Manchester to Bournemouth our cities are facing gridlock – creating misery for people trying to get from A to B.  Trying to tackle this from London won’t work. Our metro mayors and city leaders need to be in the driving seat to develop local solutions.

“In our National Infrastructure Assessment – the first of its kind for the UK – we’ve called for powers and increased funding to be devolved from Whitehall to local leaders.  This will give the people who know their cities best the tools they need to improve urban transport and support the delivery of new employment opportunities and homes.”

The NIC ranking comes at the same time as Manchester was claimed to be suffering from the worst air quality in western Europe, with the Liberal Democrats calling on the Labour administration to take action.

A report by thinktank IPPR in June had warned that poor air quality, principally caused by transport emissions, is affecting health in the city, with central and north Manchester having the country’s highest rate of emergency hospital admissions for asthma. In response, Transport for Greater Manchester is developing its Clean Air Plan, a finalised version of which is expected before year end.

The NIC’s congestion study compared the ease with which people could drive from one part of an area to another at peak and off-peak times differing, it said, from most studies in that it uses comparisons of these journey times rather than average speeds to calculate congestion.

Those areas where the experience of travellers at different times varied considerably were ranked the most congested, while those where the experience was broadly similar ranked the least congested.

Based on this, the top 10 most congested parts of England outside London are:

  1. Manchester
  2. Liverpool
  3. Birmingham
  4. Portsmouth and Southampton
  5. Nottingham
  6. Leeds
  7. Bristol
  8. Brighton
  9. Leicester
  10. Bournemouth

The National Infrastructure Assessment looks ahead to 2050 and offers recommendations for infrastructure improvements across a range of sectors, including transport, energy, digital technology, waste, floods management and water supplies.

A key recommendation from the assessment is that by 2021, metro mayors and local leaders should develop and implement long-term and integrated strategies for improving local transport and employment opportunities, and the delivery of new homes to support the growth of their cities.

This would also require Ministers to devolve powers to local leaders to deliver them – including giving metro mayors the ability to make decisions on major housing development sites, and devolved transport budgets for all cities, which would mean regular, direct funding allocations from Government, guaranteed through new legislation.

On top of this, the National Infrastructure Assessment recommends that the Government agree significant new funding for major infrastructure programmes in the fastest-growing and most congested cities.

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Hardly surprising when TfGM only looks at things from a purely Manchester perspective. Until they start to work co-operatively with areas like Cheshire next door there will always be tons of traffic as there simply is no public transport alternative. 1 Cacky train per hour to Mcr from Chester / Northwich / Knutsford which is so slow and unreliable is pathetic.

By A Developer

So, let’s tackle London’s congestion first, as that will have the greatest impact on GDP, then, er. stop spending money elsewhere that could be better spent on improving London’s whatever, as that will have the greatest impact on GDP.

By Northern Bitter

Perhaps the council should also look at their policies, closing roads, making them buses only etc etc, Manchester is a nightmare to drive through and a lot of this is because cars are being forced down certain routes that then get clogged up, one day last week it took me 30 minutes to drive from King street to Portland street …. my business is such that I rely on a car and can’t use public transport and buses because I am constantly moving around the greater manchester area for various meetings throughout the day and public transport won’t allow that. Manchester is now such a joke for car users that I am almost at the stage of refusing to meet a client if they suggest Manchester as a venue. I now suggest first thing in the morning or after work at an out of town venue. Thats not very business friendly for a city!!!

By not a cyclist

Too many people now, Manchester is far too busy

By Trig

This shouldn’t come as a surprise consideration how appalling transport links are in the city particularly those who live to the west of the city. A tram those goes as far west as Eccles when you have trams running to Manchester Airport and Bury? We have no choice other than to drive in, especially since Northern Fail are so unreliable. They’ve tried to force the guided busway on some but that is already so overcrowded and the spaces at the park and ride at full capacity.

By Anonymous

The ridiculous bus lanes don’t help That would relieve congestion if there was actually space for people to drive,rather than half of the roads sealed off for one bus an hour.GM should do what Liverpool did and get rid of this pointless fleecing scheme which serves no purpose.

By Elephant

Sorry Elephant (and perhaps also others) but if you are looking at improving the number of people who can be moved around in cities (rather than the number of vehicles), then giving road space over to cars is pretty inefficient – see e.g. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Corridor-capacity-of-different-modes-of-transportation-people-hr-on-a-35-mile-wide_fig8_262030493 (typo in caption though – should be a 3.5 metre wide corridor rather than a 3.5 mile wide corridor).

By Dennis Nails

I agree with you Dennis but until they provide efficient cheap alternatives they will not stop people using their cars.Dirty buses,trams which break down every single day and a train service which is so bad it had become a standing joke.Who ox going to leave a warm door to door car for that?

By Elephant

Public transport or the lack of it can be discouraging and intimidating for various members of our communities. Shift workers who seem to be the majority of the workforce(not working 9-5) and people who feel vulnerable for different reasons are reluctant or totally disenfranchised by rigid and non-comprehensive transit systems. That’s why many people travel by car, or the housing situation has forced many commuters to travel further and longer because of this. Unless a 24/7 fully co-ordinated safe to use network is operating in our cities, more congestion will occur

By Man on bicycle

Surprised to see Nottingham high on the list as it’s the only city to have raised money for public transport from the workplace parking levy. These powers exist but it seems councils are reluctant to use them for fear of upsetting the “motor voter”.

By Geoff Kerr

Enough is enough, Chris Grayling needs to go

By GraylingOut

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