The Department for Transport published the latest connectivity statistics in July 2015. Access to transport hubs is one of the simplest conceptions of transport geography. There are some places where average journey times have fallen, such as where new infrastructure has been built, and other places where journey times have risen. Travelling for longer on average to reach either local services, or international connections increases the ‘overhead’ transport imposes on our businesses and lifestyles.
Where journey time to reach a major rail station or airport has risen, there seem to be several common factors involved. The first is that congestion may have increased on the road network or new speed limits added or better enforced which reduce the average speed of vehicles measured on each road link.
However more important than any transport network changes are the land use changes. Where new housing estates have been completed, the new housing is most likely located further from major transport nodes. Town and city centres often developed around transport nodes, so with the most accessible locations already taken, it is not surprising that new development brings the average connectivity down.
Rather than accept that connectivity will get worse, the new statistics emphasise the importance of good decisions about which land should be developed and what transport changes are needed. If each planning authority optimises access to transport nodes and other local services in its land use planning, and invests in transport infrastrcuture to ensure lower travel times for the local population, then the country will become better connected over time.
Measures of accessibility and connectivity are rarely reported consistently across the country in planning and transport appraisals, but the new statistics can help to change that. All authorities can ensure that decisions are informed by the national statistics, so that each change to land use and transport contributes to planning frameworks for better access and connections. Behind the national statistics is a lot of complex analysis so for further details about how we help DfT with this get in touch. We also have handy interactive maps to make the statistics easier to use.