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Combined Authority to consider congestion-busting plan

A congestion-busting plan to keep the West Midlands moving while billions of pounds of new road, rail and tram schemes are built will be considered by the West Midlands Combined Authority this Friday.

If approved, roads and public transport across the West Midlands could be monitored 24 hours a day at the region’s first Regional Transport Co-ordination Centre.

As a rapidly growing region with a fast-paced economy, the West Midlands is seeing unprecedented levels of investment in its public transport system and roads, with more than £3.4bn committed over the next 10 years. This is in addition to the construction of the HS2 high speed rail line between London and the West Midlands.

The Congestion Management Plan to be considered on Friday details how transport bosses plan to use the centre to keep passengers informed and moving during major construction projects, so public transport can continue to keep people connected to the best education, training and employment opportunities in the region. Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said:

“We know that 58% of people in the West Midlands are dissatisfied with the current level of information provided during travel disruption. The Congestion Management Plan is our blueprint for changing that.

“The plan sets out how we will make best use of our new devolved powers to manage congestion, air quality and road safety and how we will build capacity on our network. Working with partners we will also create a Regional Transport Coordination Centre to give people information in real time, so they can make informed choices about their journeys.

“My renewal plan for the West Midlands clearly set out a plan to get our transport system moving again and tackling congestion is the first step towards achieving this, so I look forward to discussing the plan on Friday.”

Expected to be in place by 2019, the RTCC will provide a single view of the whole public transport and road network for organisations like Highways England and Transport for West Midlands, which is part of the WMCA. This will enable them to provide passengers with travel advice in ‘real time’.

It’s hoped the plan will encourage more people to use public transport and consider travelling outside traditional peak times. Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, added:

“This plan is a joined-up approach to tackle a regional problem and we’ll be working with Highways England, public transport operators and West Midlands Police to make it happen.

“Through the Congestion Management Plan, we will make sure that journey planning advice is available on any routes which are affected by big construction projects such as HS2, the Metro tram extension and preparation for the Commonwealth Games, and we will make sure it is all available in one place on the Network West Midlands website.”

The plan also details how new bus lanes and intelligent traffic light technology will be introduced on busy roads, alongside plans for a new website where traffic and travel disruption is displayed in real time.

Also included in the ten-point Congestion Management Plan are proposals to make better use of the M6 Toll during peak times, utilise drone technology to help emergency services when responding to car accidents and extending the Swift Card to include cycle hire, taxis and Electric Vehicle Charging. 

Local businesses are also being called on to play their part in the Congestion Management Plan, by encouraging staff to make more sustainable journeys such as cycling, walking and car sharing or even re-timing their journeys outside of peak hours.

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