Road and Local Transport Minister visits Nottingham’s excellent public transport network

Group stood outside tram

Road and Local Transport Minister Richard Holden visited Nottingham yesterday (Monday 31 July) to see for himself how the city’s award-winning sustainable transport system is bucking national trends.

Representatives from the Department for Transport joined the Minister to tour locations for an insight into Nottingham’s award-winning sustainable transport including the tram, wider public transport network and other transport initiatives, and to hear about the city’s plans for the future, including the redevelopment of the Broad Marsh area which has already seen a range of transport improvements.

The visit also gave an opportunity to discuss and lobby for Government funding to support tram systems like Nottingham Express Transit (NET) after a post-Covid fall in passenger numbers, along the same lines as additional funding that’s been provided for buses.

Nottingham has a high-quality, integrated public transport system, which has seen consistent growth over two decades, bucking national trends. It has the second highest trip rates per person outside London and the 2022 National Highway Survey ranked Nottingham as first out of 111 authorities for public transport. Its pioneering approach, including the UK’s only Workplace Parking Levy, has helped to constrain congestion growth by 47% and contributed towards a reduction in CO2 emissions since 2005.

NET is a fundamental part of the city’s public transport network, accessible to 30% of the Greater Nottingham population. The tram serves 20 of the 30 largest employers in Greater Nottingham which are all within 800m of a tram stop, widening the catchment area for employers in accessing their potential workforce.

There is also a stable bus network, with two major bus operators including the City Council-owned Nottingham City Transport (NCT). The network is very comprehensive, with over 95% of residents within 400m of a bus or tram stop, and subsidised local link services fill the gaps, operated with electric vehicles.

The council received £11.7m from the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan and this is being used to fund several initiatives including:

  • Additional bus lanes and traffic priority – on top of the 25kms of bus lanes already in place in Greater Nottingham
  • Support to maintain services on the network following the pandemic
  • Discounts for under 22s (from September) and support for care leavers.

The Government provided considerable support to the bus sector during the pandemic, and this has continued subsequently, with the £2 single fare cap and support for services expected to continue until at least 2025. However, this has not been extended to tram systems and the council has asked the Government to consider similar additional funding for NET and other UK tram systems.

Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport and Planning, Councillor Angela Kandola, said: “Nottingham is a renowned leader in excellent public transport – a city where it’s easy to get around in a green and affordable way. I was pleased to show the Road and Local Transport Minister the great things we already have in place here and highlight the amazing projects we are working on.

“I took the opportunity to raise our concerns that tram systems which are providing vital links in cities like Nottingham have not been given the same Government support as buses. We will continue to lobby Government, along with other UK cities with trams, to secure the funding support tram systems deserve.”

Road and Local Transport Minister, Richard Holden said: “Nottingham is one of the many cities which has benefitted from the Transforming Cities Fund, seeing over £169 million of Government investment shared with Derby. It was great to visit the city to see their transformational and innovative transport network and hear their plans for ongoing development – championing sustainability for the city.

“It was clear to see the benefits our funding has given to the city, alongside £11.7 million of bus improvement funding, providing a reliable service across the city.”

Chris Wright, NET, Managing Director said: “We were pleased and honoured to welcome the Minister onto Nottingham’s tram and at the Wilkinson Street depot yesterday.  His visit has provided NET with the opportunity to highlight the success of the tram network for the city of Nottingham and the wider region, through the economic and social benefit it provides to our thriving community. And just as importantly, we were also able to discuss with the Minister some of the key challenges our city faces to maintain the network’s success both now and into the future.”

Alistair Gordon, Keolis CEO, UK, Middle East and India said: “Keolis is proud to be a major partner in the daily operations of NET and to provide its global expertise and experience in support of Nottingham’s burgeoning tram network. I welcome the Minister’s visit and hope that it has provided him with further evidence of the significant role that public transport has to play in the future growth of UK towns and cities.”