Public transport needs to serve the whole community not just workers, according to Tracy Brabin, the mayor of West Yorkshire.
Speaking at the Transport for North conference this week, she said: “Care-givers, a burden often carried by women who need to travel from A to B to C and then on to D on any given day, end up paying so much more than others because their fare isn’t capped and they don’t have an employer who can offer them a season ticket loan.
“And there are far too many stations that our fellow citizens cannot access. Seventeen percent of all stations in West Yorkshire have no step-free access. “All that needs to change.”
She said unding cuts for transport infrastructure in the North in next month’s Spending Review would be “devastating” for the region.
Ms Brabin went on to say that passengers are currently getting a “raw deal” as they “stand in the rain waiting for delayed trains and cancelled buses”.
The current transport system in the region was “no longer sustainable”, she said, adding: “We need and deserve a better alternative.”
The scale of the task is so huge, she told delegates, because of decades of underinvestment by central Government and because private companies have been allowed “to put profit before people” meaning that the north needs £58bn just to catch up with London and the South East.
Transport for the North has created a charter or road map for working towards more devolution and funding control that it says would “make levelling up real”, including how people living and working in the region can “speak with one voice”.
In a call for more devolved powers over transport, she said: “As a vibrant north, we speak as one. We know what we do on transport will impact on skills, our economy, our desire to be the most inclusive place to live and perhaps most importantly on our ambitions on climate change.
“We need to be empowered and given the resources to get on with what needs to be done without having to go through endless rounds of beauty contests to compete for small pots of time-limited cash.”