Workers in Halifax 'can only reach half the number of jobs of peers in Hampshire by public transport'

Workers in parts of Yorkshire can reach just half the same number of jobs by public transport as their counterparts in the South, new research has found.

Halifax bus station. Poor public transport links in the area have been highlighted in a new report.
Halifax bus station. Poor public transport links in the area have been highlighted in a new report.

A report by the Onward thinktank found that workers in Halifax can potentially reach 580,000 jobs within 90 minutes via public transport - compared to 1.2m positions in the similarly-sized Aldershot in Hampshire.

Aldershot is 30 miles from London, while Halifax is eight miles from Bradford and 14 miles from Leeds.

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Onward said its wider findings reveal “a shocking transport gap between North and South” and have called on the Government to prioritise regional transport improvements in its levelling-up decisions. Their report, Network Effects, is being back by the influential Levelling Up Parliamentary Taskforce of 65 Conservative MPs.

Its findings are based on a brand new dataset that for the first time reveals the number of jobs accessible by car and public transport from every local area in the country.

The report states that public transport is so poorly connected in some parts of England that people can access fewer jobs within an hour on public transport than they can reach within a five-miles radius of their local area. In Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Bolsover, workers’ can access only around three-quarters of local jobs within an hour on public transport. This compares to some towns in London’s hinterland, like Redbridge, Barnet or Epping Forest, where an hour on public transport unlocks access to 7 times more jobs than exist locally.

Will Tanner, Director of Onward, said: “Levelling up must amount to much more than transport projects alone. But this report reveals the crippling effects that broken public transport networks are having on access to jobs in many of the regional towns and cities that the Government hopes to level up. A jobseeker in Halifax or Mansfield today can reach half the number of jobs as someone in Aldershot or Horsham - not because the local labour market is bigger but because chronic public transport leaves them more isolated.

"This undermines wages, reduces regional productivity and leads to worse social outcomes too. If the Government wants to level up economic opportunity, this is where transport investment should go.”

James Blagden, Senior Researcher at Onward and report author, said: “Outside the south of England, poor public transport is holding back opportunity and growth. Improving connectivity within city regions and between city centres and outlying towns, will be key to the success of levelling up.”

“All of our major cities, except London, lag behind the national average for public transport connectivity. Mass transit boosts access to jobs by 51 per cent in Birmingham and 35 per cent in Newcastle, but this rises to 270 per cent in London.”

Regional variation in connectivity also creates a clear dividing line outside the core cities. For residents of Bath, there are 10 times as many jobs located within a 90-minute commute as there are for people in Telford, despite the latter’s proximity to Birmingham.”

Rob Largan, MP for High Peak and Committee Member for the Levelling Up Parliamentary Taskforce, said: “This report does an excellent job of demonstrating how disparities in public transport affects life chances and employment opportunities. If levelling up is to mean anything, then it must be about fixing this and reducing transport inequalities between regions.”

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