Calls have been made to create an integrated transport system of buses and trains across Kent.
Kent’s Labour group has lobbied the Conservative administration at Maidstone County Hall to draw up proposals for a joined up travel service, adopting the Transport for London (TfL) model.
This would include lower fares, more frequent services and a Kent oyster card that enables travel on multiple modes of transport, such as buses and trains.
Margate county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab), shadow cabinet member for transport, told the panel: “Let’s have Transport for Kent. That should be the way forward.”
A Kent County Hall report, which was published to the committee last week, outlined the early stages of a new county-wide transport plan.
The aim is to meet the needs of Kent’s 1.85million residents, visitors and local businesses travelling in and out of the 12 districts over the next decade.
Key priorities include the delivery of large infrastructure projects, namely the £8 billlion Lower Thames Crossing and £34 million Thanet Parkway Station in the village of Cliffsend, connecting residents to London in just over an hour.
In addition, Kent County Council (KCC) is seeking further government funding for new bus services, walking and cycling schemes and more electric vehicle charging points, contributing to Whitehall’s net zero emissions target by 2050.
KCC’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr David Brazier (Con), said: “There has been such enormous change in the county over the last five years that we feel we must bring powers to bear to review and update what we did before.”A
Speaking to Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green party colleagues in the online debate on Wednesday, he added: “We are already transferring fossil fuels to electric power while the Lower Thames Crossing will be a real entity.
“There is unprecedented growth of housing in the county and there have been numerous changes in freight patterns arising out of Brexit.”
However Cllr Lewis has called for the authority to go much further, including introducing more rural bus services, suggesting the creation of a new bus connection alongside the Thanet Parkway station development in Cliffsend.
After the meeting, Cllr Lewis added: “In Kent, we need a joined up bus and train service that compliments each other.”