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Transport: Inclusive economies

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Transport plays a vital role in connecting people to jobs and learning opportunities. International development literature frames transport as both a social and an economic enabler.

More details of the role of transport in post-COVID-19 places can be found in the full report

"Public transport plays a key role in connecting people to economic and social opportunities"

With the implications of the COVID-emergency put to one side, England’s regions face various well-publicised challenges in relation to transport affordability and reliability. One criticism of many high profile transport schemes is that they offer little in the way of support for inclusive economies.

Investment in transport, especially in sustainable and active models, is also associated with improvements in physical and mental health as a result of greater physical activity, increased social contact, and reduced air pollution, often disproportionately impacting poor communities. Social policies and social deployment depend heavily on effective integration with transport policy and provision. The devolution of transport powers in England offers an important opportunity to achieve such integration.

However, this demands a strategic approach and a strong voice for social policy and inclusion in transport planning, with extensive cross-sector working and a willingness to break down barriers and reform funding and appraisal mechanisms.

There is an increasing recognition of the link between public transport and the inclusive growth agenda.

Case studies 


Key lessons

- COVID-19 presents significant challenges to public transport, but the Government’s actions give rise to an opportunity to significantly advance transport devolution, building on the existing direction of travel.

- Transport is increasingly seen through the lens of an inclusive economies issue, especially in areas with bus franchising powers.

- Public transport plays a key role in connecting people to economic and social opportunities but poor transport provision is predominant.

- A strategic approach to social policy and economic inclusion is required in transport planning.

- There are underutilised opportunities in national transport infrastructure projects to maximise place-based social value.

- Additional Government funding and measures provide an opportunity for councils to promote more inclusive uses of cycling networks.