Can Tackling Congestion Save the Yorkshire High Street?
Can Tackling Congestion Save the Yorkshire
While London was the first UK city to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) initiative, it’s unlikely to be the last if recent developments are anything to go by.
In fact, the Yorkshire city of Leeds is one of five fellow British cities that are looking to introduce a green congestion charge on older and polluting vehicles by the year 2020. It’s though that motorists could ultimately be charged between £12.50 and £50 each time they enter a designated CAZ with their vehicle, while the local authorities in Birmingham, Nottingham and Derby and Southampton set to follow suit.
But how will this measure be received, and could it also play a role in saving the stricken Yorkshire High Street? Let’s take a look!
How has the Announcement been Received?
If such a revelation had been made a decade ago, there’s no doubt that it would have been met with a huge public outcry.
However, with the number of cars on the road having increased incrementally over the course of the last 10 years and the underlying infrastructure creaking under the sheer volume of traffic, a growing number of motorists are expected to back the introduction of clean air zones.
This is certainly likely to welcomed in bustling central areas, where both motorists and passengers are sure to welcome reduced congestion.
Fundamentally, this new clean air zone in Leeds should trigger a rapid reduction in the number of dirty and old cars on the road, the majority of which have not been designed to meet modern emissions standards.
Why Introducing a Congestion Charge is Only Half of the Battle
While the decision to introduce a congestion charge may split motorists in the UK and be relatively well received, it may not be enough by itself to convince the British public or achieve the environmental goals that underpin the project.
To understand this further, we only need to look at the London model. After all, the London congestion charge has only caused the number of vehicles on the road to decline by 10% since its inception in 2006, which is well below the initial targets set.
However, it has generated in excess of £1 billion in funding for regional public transport and cycling lanes, which will prove crucial if the government is to provide a viable alternative for people who typically drive.
In this respect, the local authorities in Leeds need to adopt something of a “carrot and stick” approach when revolutionising their roads. This means combining a fixed congestion charge with a subsidised public transport network, and preferably that’s both reliable and eco-friendly.
The Last Word – Could This Save the Yorkshire High Street?
Given that this is likely to require the introduction of electric buses, the authorities in Leeds and the surrounding locations will need to raise significant funds if they’re to achieve their goals.
The return on such an investment could prove priceless over time, however, with some arguing that it could even help to save the Yorkshire High Street. After all, the deployment of strategic stops and transport links will make it easier for shoppers to reach busy hubs, while creating roads that are free from congestion will also be appealing to consumers in the modern age.
The decline in the Yorkshire high street has been pronounced in recent times, and this is having a huge impact on the local economy. The introduction of a congestion charge could help to reverse this trend, however, so long as it’s combined with subsidised public transport schemes and significant financial investment for small businesses.