Almost half (49%) of North East England’s businesses would be more likely to invest in the region if improvements were made to its public transport network, according to new research from the North East England Chamber of Commerce.
In the research, published today (30 March), the Chamber and Newcastle-based law firm Bond Dickinson finds that the cost of tickets, reliability of service and difficulty in making connections rank high among the concerns of Chamber members.
More than half (54%) say the current public transport system in the North East does not function well as a single network, and 4 in 10 say improving public transport would have the single biggest impact on improving North East connectivity overall.
Arlen Pettitt, policy adviser at the Chamber, said:
“As a region, we have more no-car households, and we travel further by bus than anywhere in England outside London, meaning public transport plays a crucial role in keeping North East England’s economy moving.
“Our members need a reliable, efficient public transport network to help them do business across the region and, importantly, to ensure they can reach the largest possible skilled workforce.
“Achieving that will mean championing investment in our region’s buses and trains – building on the good work operators are already doing – and promoting simplified, integrated ticketing alongside improved information provision.”
The research also identifies the need for the business community to take an active role in shaping the public transport network they want to see, recommending a forum is established to allow businesses, transport operators and local authorities to meet regularly.
None of the 200 businesses and employees surveyed feel they currently have a role in working to improve public transport in the region, presenting a huge opportunity for them to contribute to tackling the issues.
Kevin Bell, transport partner at Bond Dickinson, said:
“Public transport already takes more of the strain in North East England than it does in many other regions, so it is really important that we build on the positives and address the areas where there are still issues.
“Many of the improvements we need are already on the radar of the region’s transport operators, who have made extensive investments and have ambitious plans for the future. It is now vital the rest of the business community gets involved, as we continue to improve transport in the region and foster our transport links with our northern neighbours.”
Businesses who would like to make their voice heard on public transport are invited to get in touch with the Chamber to take part in the next phase of this work.