Overall, UK cities are losing out on around £21 billion annually, with people across the country struggling to reach the economic hubs that are city centres, according to analysis from Centre for Cities.
Their number crunching found a productivity gap due to weak public transport accessibility of £2.8 billion in Leeds, and then a further £2.3 billion in Sheffield.
The analysts found that only four in ten people in cities outside of London can reach their city centre within 30 minutes, a stark contrast to the seven in ten in European urban areas who are able to do this.
The think tank say that the £5.7billion promised by the Chancellor in the Budget last week to improve public transport is not enough, and are now calling on Ministers to pump more money in to the system.
Centre for Cities say that they would like continued investment in new infrastructure in cities such as Leeds, as well as reforms to the planning system to make it easier to build in well connected suburban areas.
They also want to see more councils using Local Development Orders, which they say could help get more homes built in currently unused areas.
Centre for Cities’ Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “Last week the Chancellor promised an ‘infrastructure revolution’ and the money being given to city-regions is much-needed. However, it will not be enough to level up transport while suburbs remain so sparse and car-dependent. Just half of neighbourhoods built more than one home in the last decade.
“To maximise benefits of infrastructure spending, and make new routes and regular services more viable, the Government needs to commit to significant reforms to the planning system to allow our cities’ suburbs to grow.
“We know that planning reform is controversial, but without it the Government’s investment on urban transport won’t level up. On the other hand, coupling the investment with planning reform will add more £23 billion to the economy.”
Labour have accused the Government of “short changing” the public when it comes to their transport promises calling on them to deliver on projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.
Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon said: “More than a decade of stripping back services has left people cut off from vital transport links. The Conservatives talk a good game, yet deliver nothing.
“Until we improve transport connectivity across the country, growth, investment and opportunity in our regions will continue to be stifled.”
South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis said: “Building a world-class public transport service should be at the heart of the levelling up agenda. It would improve our quality of life, help people get to better jobs, boost our economy and safeguard the health of our children and our communities. And it’s vital part of our plan to reach our target of Net Zero carbon emissions.
"We’ve already invested millions in starting to build this transport system, but we need the government to match our ambition and back up their words about levelling up with action.
"Our region is still being held back by long-standing inequalities, and the government need to get on and give us the investment we need to unlock our huge potential.”