Regional transport bodies, or sub-national transport bodies as they are officially known, are relatively new bodies that are being set up in the regions, to coordinate transport policy and spending. They can bid for a variety of powers, including bus franchising, but in general, much transport infrastructure will continue to be delivered at the local level.
The best known regional body is Transport for London (TfL) which has been around for some time and was established under different legislation. It stands alone in its own right unlike its metropolitan equivalents, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) (the executive arm of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority) and Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) (the executive arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority, centred around Birmingham) which confusingly are not regional transport bodies but are members of Transport for the North and Midlands Connect respectively.
Since 2016, the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 paved the way for a new wave of regional transport bodies to be set up:
- Transport for the North – received its statutory status in 2018.
- Midlands Connect held a consultation on its powers some time ago but hasn’t published the results or taken its case further at present
- Transport for the South East – currently bidding for statutory status
- England’s Economic Heartland – currently bidding for statutory status
- Transport East was launched in March 2018
- Peninsula Transport is in shadow form
- Western Gateway is in shadow form
Recognising that regional bodies appear to be back in favour, it makes sense for transport groups and people or organisations with an interest in transport issues to get involved with these new bodies. Given that it can be difficult for an organisation covering a small geographical area to engage with a regional body, we are keen that where possible and where people want to do so, they work together to form a network (informally or formally) to help give the issues important to them a voice at this strategic level. Otherwise, there is a danger the regional transport body will end up focusing on the big infrastructure road and rail projects to the exclusion of much else.
If you are working in a region and would like to hook up with others or would like some help setting something up, please get in touch.
Regional Round Up
See our summary of the regional transport bodies for brief details on each of the regions, their status, the places covered and where they have got to with developing a transport strategy.