The Latest from Lord Burns

Lord Burns’ South East Wales Transport Commission has published its Emerging Conclusions.  Here are extracts from the Summary of a lot of information available at

Congestion on the M4 is largely a peak-hours problem, predominantly associated with commuting. A relatively small increase in traffic leads to a disproportionate increase in congestion. Many people do not have good transport alternatives to the motorway. The combination of the rail, bus and active travel networks do not accommodate the range of the journeys that people are undertaking, particularly commutes. All of the rail, bus and active travel networks are offering insufficient services. The individual modes are also poorly integrated, in relation to interchange, timetables and ticketing. This limits the value of each part. There is insufficient regional coordination. Land use decisions with respect to homes, offices and retail parks have contributed to congestion and, on the current trajectory, this looks set to continue. At the same time, the population of the region’s cities is projected to rise considerably. Without action, this will place additional pressure on the motorway.

If we are to alleviate congestion, we need to create attractive and viable alternatives for people. Until these exist, it is very difficult to solve the problem sustainably. Of course, the COVID-19 epidemic has radically changed the situation – the question is for how long. Traffic is at a much lower level and we expect congestion to be less problematic while social distancing is in place. In the long term, a substantive and sustained increase in remote working could have a meaningful impact on reducing traffic. However, our view remains that in order to function efficiently, the region requires additional, non-car transport options. Overall, a key emerging recommendation is a ‘Network of Alternatives’ for South East Wales. A network approach puts a focus on integration, allowing for flexible journeys, reflecting the diversity of types of trips that people want to make. When the different parts work together, its value can be greater than the sum of its parts. Our final report will make specific recommendations to the Welsh Government. These will cover all modes of transport, as well as wider policy on land use, governance and charging.