Oxford needs a 'gear change' to tackle congestion
Transport in Oxford needs an ambitious approach if growing problems of congestion and poor air quality are to be tackled effectively in the future, according to Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council.
Councillor Hudspeth announced new research about travel in Oxford that will provide vital information that could help transport planners manage transport demand in the future as the number of journeys is expected to continue to increase.
Job growth within and outside Oxford could result in a 25% increase in journeys made from 2011 to 2031. Without improvements to the transport network and changes in travel behaviour, this could result in approximately 13,000 more commuter car trips each day. (Source: Oxford Transport Strategy 2016)
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Proposals to manage this demand include a rapid transit transport system and better separate provision for walkers and cyclists. Businesses and major employers are being asked about their transport investment priorities. Locally controlled funding options could include a congestion charge for Oxford and levy on workplace parking spaces.
“Oxford has a particular problem managing traffic due to its compact size, historic buildings and growing economy,” said Councillor Hudspeth. “Doing nothing is not an option. Some of the ideas we will be putting forward may not be popular with everyone, but unless we find a way to change gear, the city faces more and more congestion in the years to come.
“As a driver, I am well aware that I am part of the traffic problem every time I get in my car. We have to act now if we are to ensure the city and whole of the county continue to prosper with better transport choices in place in the future. We want to look at new ways for buses, cars and cyclists to share road space, and improve pedestrian routes.”
The need to find new ways to fund ambitious public transport improvements through schemes such as a workplace parking levy was highlighted in the Oxford Transport Strategy, published in 2016. The strategy was developed as part of the Connecting Oxfordshire public debate on the future of transport in Oxfordshire.
The aim is to consult residents, businesses and other stakeholders in early 2018 once options have been developed, based on the research. Transport planners will look at ways to share road space differently, with greater priority given to pedestrians, buses and cyclists.
Around 1500 local businesses will be asked to take part in a survey to understand car parking use at their workplaces. Businesses will be given the opportunity to take part in research that will gather initial views on transport, congestion and managing demand for roads.
Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have been working on a vision of how transport in Oxford could be developed to 2050, including rapid transit, cycling, and improvements to the major routes into the city.
A workplace parking levy was introduced in Nottingham in 2012 to fund a new tram system and electric buses, which became the first place in Europe to introduce such a levy.
The council will be using highway modelling over the next few months to estimate the transport impacts of the demand management options being considered as part of the research work.