Taking a Different Approach to Transport Planning – Let’s Start with People: TRANSPORT Smart Class, North of England 2024 Retrospective


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Transport for the North (TfN) has recently prepared its second Strategic Transport Plan, which is the North’s pan-regional transport strategy.

Strategy Director and Deputy Chief Executive, Katie Day, joined us at TRANSPORT Smart Class, North of England 2024 to explain in her opening keynote presentation how working together with the North’s political leaders, business representatives and other partners has enabled TfN to develop this new plan, setting out the economic, social and environmental ambitions for the North to achieve transformational change through better connectivity.

“Lets start with people!” was Katie’s message. It is a plan focused on outcomes for people and places, is based on evidence, and will set the framework for TfN, as a sub-national transport body, to provide advice to government.

It was also a pleasure to have one of our previous TfN keynote speakers, Head of Connected Mobility Matt Smallwood, with us to add his expert knowledge during the roundtable sessions.

Summary of Katie’s keynote highlights:

  • The North of England is home to around 16 million people – 51.0% Male, 49.0% Female; 57.3% economically active, 42.7% economically inactive; 1,839,020 have Level 3 qualifications and 3,817,924 have Level 4 qualifications; 86.8% White, 7.8% Asian, 2.0% Black, 2.0% Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, 1.4% Other ethnic group; 90.1% Heterosexual, 3.1% LGBTQ+; 2,144,395 One-person households, 4,164,352 Single family households, 350,999 Other household types; 5.4% Aged 4 years and under, 5.9% 5-9 years, 7.2% 10-15 years, 4.7% 16-19 years, 6.2% 20-24 years, 13.1% 25-34 years, 18.5% 35-49 years, 20.0% 50-64 years, 10.4% 65-74 years, 6.3% 75-84 years, 2.4% 85 years and over; 49.5% Christian, 36.3% No religion, 6.9% Muslim;
  • However, the transport system is unequal:
  • 3.3 million people in the North live in areas with a high risk of social exclusion because of transport issues. This equates to around 21% of the North, compared to 16% elsewhere in England;
  • Transport inequalities and TRSE are not inevitable but reflect policy decisions. The most at risk populations (low income, disabled, carers) have been poorly represented in the transport decision-making process for decades;
  • We need to consider the social impact from the very beginning in transport planning. It should shape where we invest and what we invest in, rather than being ‘bolted on’ later in the process;

  • And…more recent data shows:
  • 44% faced at least one form of social exclusion specifically because of transport issues, and 21% faced multiple forms of social exclusion;
  • 26% said that the money they spend on transport makes it difficult to afford other essential items, like utility bills and food shopping;
  • 23% said their everyday journeys caused them significant stress and anxiety. This was particularly common among disabled residents;
  • 31% of those with a disability that has a major impact on their everyday life had not travelled for leisure purposes at all in the last month, compared with 4% of non-disabled respondents;
  • The vicious cycle of social exclusion – Poor active travel conditions in car-dominated environments; High levels of car dependency and forced car ownership; Fragmented, unreliable & unaffordable public transport;
  • Transport for the North’s commitment to keeping communities connected:
  • To confront the social inclusion challenge in the North of England, TfN devised a TRSE reduction strategy;
  • In this TfN set out actions they will carry out to help local partners identify and target areas and communities most at risk;
  • This includes creating and then sharing new evidence into TRDE. A strong, robust and diverse evidence base allows TfN to better grasp the challenge and gives greater confidence to local partners;
  • In August TfN published a paper looking into the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis in relation to travel behaviours and patterns for those most at risk. This was one of many TfN research committments;
  • TfN are also refining existing data tools whilst developing new tools to expand their evidence base into new areas. Again, diversifying understanding of social exclusion in the North;

  • Northern Transport Voices:
  • TfN’s citizens’ panel gives a voice to a diverse group of Northern residents about their experience of transport;
  • Strengthens evidence building and policy making with new insights on issues such as electric vehicle infrastructure, the cost-of-living, and last-mile deliveries options;
  • The online community currently stands strong at over 500 members, which TfN hope to increase to include even more diverse groups;
  • “We are determined to make all of our rail stations as accessible as possible. To deliver a fully inclusive transport system, we need public transport, including rail travel, to be more affordable, more reliable, safer, better integrated with other modes of travel, and more accessible to all population groups” – Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive, Transport for the North:
  • 5 principles of TfN’s Strategic Transport Plan:
  • 1) Evidence led – Grounded in robust evidence;
  • 2) User centric – Recognising people and businesses have different needs;
  • 3) Outcome-focused – Being clear on the outcomes needed to achieve the vision;
  • 4) Place based – Recognising the unique and diverse geography of the North;
  • 5) Systems approach – An innovative and collaborative approach to implementations.

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at The Stoller Hall, Manchester, for the live in-person event on June 6th, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Katie’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, programme managers and planners from local authorities (e.g. city, borough, metropolitan, district and county councils); public transport operators; regional transport partnerships, sub-regional transport bodies, combined authorities, integrated transport authorities and passenger transport executives; highways authorities and road operators; government and supporting national transport agencies; non-governmental organisations; fleet operators, parking operators, prime contractors etc.

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TRANSPORT Smart Class, North of England 2024

On June 6th we will be casting a spotlight over the North of England, hosting our speakers discussions on how the latest digital innovations, strategies and best practices can help overcome the transport and mobility challenges faced by city-regions of the Northern Powerhouse and beyond.


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