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Transport policy is a ‘failure’ and ‘missed opportunity’

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A GOVERNMENT blueprint to encourage Islanders to choose more sustainable transport options is a complete ‘failure’ and a ‘missed opportunity’, according to a backbencher.

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Deputy Rob Ward was relentless in his criticism of the near-100 page Sustainable Transport Policy and said he had been left ‘speechless’ by the lack of detail and positive action in the document which government had six months to work on. He said: ‘I am genuinely at a loss as to why this looks as it does, there is lack of will to make significant change and this report will do nothing.

‘They have had, since June, a remit to produce a Sustainable Transport Policy and it was supposed to be produced before the end of the year. It was published on New Year’s Eve, I think that says a lot.’

The document outlines plans to create further reports into parking in the Island, the bus service and ‘active travel’. It also sets out actions to be taken this year in the 2020 Strong Start Delivery Plan.

Plans for this year include:

  • Piloting a shuttle bus from town to the St Saviour schools as well as a ‘walking bus’ from Liberation Station to the same area.
  • Improving cycle routes to schools, rolling out cycle proficiency to primary schools and creating covered cycle parking in town and rural parishes.
  • Trialling ‘traffic-free events’ in town.
  • Allowing free bus travel for carers of disabled people.

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  • Trialling bus lanes to speed up the exiting of buses from Liberation Station and to trial bio-diesel on buses and commercial vehicles.

Deputy Ward said the policy should have focused on free bus transport for under 18s ‘to create a culture of bus use’ among young people. The Sustainable Transport Policy was created after Deputy Ward brought a proposition to introduce free bus travel for all Islanders. That was rejected in June but an amendment was successfully made for Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis to create a transport policy that would focus on safer walking routes, cycling and provision for those with impaired mobility.

Deputy Ward, who also successfully proposed with a separate proposition last year that the Island declare a climate change emergency, added: ‘I am not at all impressed and I am genuinely struggling to find any genuine action that is going to happen that is going to make a difference given the context that we have declared a climate change emergency and our transport system is dysfunctional.

‘The issue is they had six months to come up with some plans and they are going to spend £470,000 on school transport and not a single part of that means free transport. They talk about a shuttle bus and talk about cycle proficiency but when roads are clogged up with cars parents are reluctant to let their children cycle.

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‘They have absolutely failed to provide a genuine alternative to the car. Someone needs to lead in this government and make real change. I would suggest offering a cheaper and more regular bus service. We have to focus on short journeys. If it’s raining and you only have to go a mile or so you don’t want to pay £2 to be on the bus for three minutes.

‘I will continue to push and campaign and will not stand for this notional effort at a Sustainable Transport Policy.’

Asked if he had confidence in Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis, who brought forward the policy, the Reform Jersey Deputy said: ‘I don’t think personality has any place in politics but this is a massive missed opportunity.’

A total of £1.55million has been allocated from the Climate Emergency Fund along with further money from the Public Realm Strategy and Island Plan Review to pay for sustainable transport policies this year.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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