Road safety and the future of how our bus services operate were among the items discussed on Tuesday (16 November) when the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee met.
They were among several items discussed at length – and Labour councillors were pleased to support the “pedestrian crossing priority programme”.
Thankfully, road casualties have reduced in recent years, but we need to continue to strive to reduce them even further and more pedestrian crossings will help.
Almost all road deaths and injuries are preventable.
Labour supported a motion for an updated city road safety strategy in January. It would include road danger reduction measures and a plan for an increase in the number of pedestrian crossings by schools and parks.
This strategy is an overarching initiative and, in time, the pedestrian crossing priority programme may operate alongside its wider aims.
It will lead to a better understanding of the sources of road danger and how forward-thinking policies on active travel can be achieved in parallel with ambitious road safety objectives.
Another important issue that came up was buses. Labour is interested in franchising local bus services so that we can drive down fares and improve routes and regularity.
Sadly, adoption of bus franchising in Brighton and Hove would be impossible to implement immediately without government legislation.
It would also incur high potential costs to set up and monitor franchise arrangements with no guarantee that all its objectives would be addressed.
Local transport authorities are required first to establish an “enhanced partnership”.
It is therefore essential that this is set up and progress monitored in accordance with government reporting procedures before a review is undertaken as to whether to pursue franchising as the next step to achieve the objectives within our Bus Service Improvement Plan.
Labour colleagues asked many searching questions around how other local authorities are planning to make a franchising system work.
Greater Manchester has agreed to go ahead, meaning we can learn from their experience and keep an eye on their progress.
It was good to hear that the chair invited colleagues to the next bus partnership meeting to discuss bus improvements.
And I am looking forward to improved services, an increase in passenger numbers and reductions in fares – all key parts of our active and sustainable travel plan.
Councillor Carmen Appich is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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