Page last updated at 06:47 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Transport group's 350m blueprint

Traffic on the M4
Traffic congestion costs Wales 600m a year, the report says

Walking, cycling and public transport must play a bigger role in the future of local travel, a new report suggests.

Transport alliance Sewta makes its recommendations in a 350m five-year plan for a sustainable regional transport network in south east Wales.

Sewta said its findings were based on the "uncomfortable truth" that present transport trends could not continue.

Its plan would reduce social exclusion, promote health and prosperity and protect the environment, it claimed.

Sewta, the South East Wales Transport Alliance, is a consortium comprising the region's 10 local authorities working in partnership with public transport operators and users groups.

Its regional transport plan (RTP) for 2010-2015 calls for improved accessibility for all, a shift towards alternative modes of travel and reduced climate change emissions.

It recommends that as rail serves most of the key towns in the region, and provides a vital link along many of the main traffic corridors, investment should be continued in increasing rail capacity and frequency.

As more people travel by bus than train in Wales, it also aims to significantly improve the quality of bus services.

More investment in public transport
Improved accessibility for all to reduce social exclusion
Reduced climate change emissions
Improved regional connectivity
Improved integration, information and ticketing
Promotion of sustainable travel choices
Better use of the existing road infrastructure
Source: Sewta

Sewta's report, Moving People, puts dependence on the car as one of the main causes of poor health in the region, which it said has clear social, economic and environmental consequences.

"Over time an increasing dependence on the car has led to high levels of traffic congestion and an inefficient transport system overall. Traffic congestion costs the local economy 600m a year," said the report.

"Building more and more roads is not an effective solution to these problems, and providing a sustainable transport system which meets Wales' national, international, economic and social needs is the biggest challenge the RTP must tackle."

It said "effective and sustainable" transport connections to the rest of Wales and beyond were vital to the region's economy and people.

'Significant impact'

Walking was the most widely available form of exercise and accounted for one quarter of all journeys, but the report found men are walking 40% less than 15 years ago, and women 25% less.

It said that while cycling is a sustainable and practical means of making journeys, it currently accounts for fewer than 1% of transport forms.

Consequently, the consortium proposes a 'smarter choices' programme to provide better opportunities for people to walk and cycle, including as part of linked trips by public transport.

Sewta chairman Jeffrey James said the plan would have a significant impact on the way people in the area would travel.

"The threat of climate change must challenge the way our travel behaviour impacts on the environment," he added.

The report has been submitted to the Welsh Assembly Government, which will assess Sewta's plan and its request for funding, by March.

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