The future of local economies in the UK has been given a boost with the launch of a new UK government-supported Transport Knowledge Hub to assist with transport spending decisions that drive growth.
The new free online tool equips Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), local authorities, and other local decision makers with the tools and expertise to make cost-effective, impactful decisions for local transport. Launched this week at the LEP Annual Conference in London, the Hub offers best practice guidance relating to the selection, development, and delivery of transport investments, as well case studies of successful transport projects. Functioning as an online community, and hosted through Local Partnerships’ website, the Hub will provide a platform for sharing advice on investing in transport infrastructure for growth, and helping local decision makers to find the evidence they need to make important decisions on capital spending. It will also have a news and community section featuring a weekly updates, ensuring that local decision makers are kept informed about relevant transport issues.
With an estimated underspend by LEPs on Local Growth Fund projects of £85m (US$106m) in 2015-16, the Transport Knowledge Hub will play a vital role in ensuring LEPs have access to information that will support them in making important decisions about local investment.
Local transport projects can be transformative, with effective investment in local bus infrastructure, for example, delivering up to £7 (US$9) of economic benefits for every £1 (US$1.25) invested. The Hub, is funded jointly by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Greener Journeys, a coalition of the UK’s major public transport groups, dedicated to encouraging people to make more sustainable travel choices, reducing the number of vehicles on the country’s roads.
“The launch of the Transport Knowledge Hub marks a new dawn for investment in local transport projects,” noted Claire Haigh (above), chief executive of Greener Journeys. “The scale of issues facing our transport networks is vast. From minimizing congestion to improving air quality, quality local transport policy has never been more essential. The Hub is a timely development, designed to encourage investments which will drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Through information sharing across the country, and the creation of a centralized resource, the Hub will facilitate better investment, better collaboration and better journeys.”
Andrew Jones, Buses Minster at the DfT, said, “The Hub will play an important role by offering local decision makers guidance on best practice, while enabling them to share advice on investing in transport infrastructure. The government has supported this with investment, as we support local decision makers creating the transport schemes to make a difference in their areas.”
Hilary Chipping, deputy CEO of the South East Midlands LEP, commented, “The Hub is a fantastic resource and I’m really excited about the opportunity to explore how we can maximize its use among transport stakeholders. The Hub offers a formal framework for sharing expertise with decision makers around the UK, as well as learning from the experience of others. This will enable more investment to be directed towards local and sustainable forms of transport.”