Thomas Edison famously said, “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”
Well I’m saying, we will make public transport so fast, so reliable and so comprehensive that people will choose to leave their cars behind. I will make public transport faster, more reliable, and more comprehensive. I’ll make sure the whole fleet is upgraded and easier to use for disabled people; stations too. Everyone from 8 to 80 should feel safe on public transport. This will mean having guards on trains. I’ll take a firm line on anti-social behaviour and ban repeat offenders. Click on the bullet points above for more.
The North East invented powered public transport. The Rocket and Locomotion1 were built at the Forth Street works by the Tyne. Yet since deregulation in October 1986 our transport system has declined and fewer people use it. It’s time to turn this around and build a transport system to be proud of.
In the North East, our two million people spend £3 billion a year on private transport – most of it on owning and running cars. On average that’s £1500 a year for every man, woman and child. 96.4% of our cars are still fossil fuelled.
We have 861,000 cars in the North East and 186,000 households own two cars. If you can get to work or to college easily; if you can get your goods delivered, if you can go on a night out without needing a car – why would you own two?
I’ve been a public transport policy geek since I wrote a dissertation on an environmentally friendly, fully integrated public transport system back in 1993, as part of my degree. As Mayor I represent our region on Transport for North. I’ve shaped our North East Transport plan. And I’ve had dozens of meetings with transport ministers to get us this new funding. So when I say we can build a low-carbon transport system that is so good that thousands of people will voluntarily give up owning cars, I’m confident we can do it.
Under my leadership every town and every village in County Durham will be part of the Total Transport Network from the first day it’s set up.
Durham joined the devolution deal late, after the LibDem led coalition explored a county devolution deal. Durham will benefit in the next capital funding round, and immediately from the bus improvement money. Durham will be a major beneficiary from reopening the Leamside Line. Under my leadership Durham’s transport will fully integrate with the rest of the North East without any delay.
If Durham had struck a county deal instead of joining the North East, there would be no transport money now or later, just as there isn’t in Cornwall or North Yorkshire’s county deals.