Election 2019

General election 2019, Your Questions Answered: How can congestion be reduced in Leeds?

Image caption "In Leeds, more of our outdoor air pollution comes from the exhausts of diesel and petrol vehicles than from any other source," said Leeds City Council

Congestion on the roads of Leeds is a problem that can spill over into gridlock, as it did recently when a road was closed at Armley gyratory. The city had been due to get a Supertram and then a trolley bus but the schemes were scrapped in 2005 and 2016 respectively. What could be done to get the city's roads moving?

Terry Locke, who lives in the city, used the BBC's Your Questions Answered to ask: "As a bus driver working in Leeds I would like to know what the government is going to do to unlock the gridlock and congestion in Leeds?"

Mr Locke, 63, whose routes take him across central Leeds said he experienced the city's congestion at first hand.

"In an ideal world we should all be whizzing along but all it takes is one traffic light out or a breakdown and it all gets snarled up.

"Look at Sheffield, Edinburgh, Nottingham, all smaller cities, but they have their own trams

"Every day this week traffic has stopped; some day it is going to grind to a halt completely."

Image copyright Terry Locke
Image caption Terry Locke, who drives for First Bus, said: "I am used to getting a sense of frustration from back in the bus, I can hear the passengers all talking"

Mr Locke said on some days his route could be as much as 90 minutes behind schedule and the traffic had worsened since 1997 when he had a previous spell as a bus driver.

"There is not an easy answer but it must be a long-term fix. Congestion is unhealthy, costs money and makes people more unhappy."

What do Leeds Central's parliamentary candidates have to say on the issue?

Image caption Leeds has been described as lagging behind other European cities when it comes to public transport

Hilary Benn - Labour

"We need a tram system in Leeds and publicly run, integrated transport covering cycling, buses, park and ride, Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.

I am campaigning for Leeds to be able to run its own bus services and for integrated ticketing. All of these things can help get us out of our cars and so reduce congestion. We also need to improve air quality and cut CO2 emissions by moving quickly to electric vehicles."

Ed Carlisle - Green

"I'll push, again, for a mass transit system (like a tram network) - but that'll take 15 years minimum to build, and we can't wait that long. So I'd establish a city centre workplace parking levy, which has been hugely successful in Nottingham and plough the profit into subsidising the buses.

"Another short-term solution would be pushing hard to drive up numbers of people car sharing.

"In the mid term, we'd create a network of back-street cycling routes and cut VAT on bicycles. We'd also fund upgrades to local and regional train lines - much better value than the ridiculous High Speed 2 project - then reopen railway stations on established lines."

William Clouston - Social Democratic Party

"Traffic congestion and transport problems in Leeds have two prime causes. First, successive governments have failed to construct the rapid transit system which Leeds evidently needs. The absence of such a system is an indictment of a political class whose focus is hopelessly short term and who regard planning as a dirty word. Regrettably, the solution - public sector infrastructure investment - will take years to bear fruit for the people of Leeds.

"Secondly, funding for bus transport has been cut massively since its peak in 2008. We urgently need to invest in local bus services,which is a key SDP priority."

Peter Fortune - Conservative

It was the Labour Council here in Leeds that developed the current failing transport strategy. Their destructive plan has wasted millions on feasibility studies for a mass transit system, and more than £20m on a cycle lane that is hardly used because it was not fit for purpose. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, wrote about transport in Leeds in our Conservative manifesto.

In it he promised a "transport revolution" and noted Leeds is the largest city in western Europe without a light rail or metro system. A majority Conservative government, having delivered Brexit, will deliver on this commitment to drive the necessary change to ensure Leeds has an effective transport infrastructure fit for a vibrant city.

Jack Holland - Liberal Democrat

"We will support the development of an integrated transport system in the city, which has been a long-term aspiration here. Currently, the lack of that network has created a gap in the market filled by Uber, adding more cars to the roads.

"Walking my young son to nursery every day, I worry about the impact of traffic fumes on his health. Leeds needs to be far more proactive in how it tackles the problem. That might mean a congestion zone, or banning high-polluting diesel vehicles from the city centre, as we move towards a decarbonised economy. It definitely means building an integrated transport system, investing more money in safe cycle lanes, and learning from cities that have managed to get this right."

Paul Thomas - The Brexit Party

"I think one of the most pressing road-transport initiatives must be to widen more lengths of some of the major roads into Leeds - like Dewsbury Road (which has recently been narrowed in parts), and Kirkstall Road all the way to the Ring Road. As for Otley Road, how about tunnelling from the Outer Ring Road into the Inner Ring Road, A64(M)?

"All would be major schemes, involving some compulsory purchase and demolition, but without some big, bold action congestion will worsen."

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