Dear Editor, Birmingham’s recently heralded transport plan for the future (Post November 11) appears to be completely at odds with its aspiration to achieve global status. Modern transport infrastructure is an essential prerequisite for any city wishing to compete on the international stage.
For a city the size of Birmingham, this implies a reliable underground system, or at the very least, a modern, comprehensive light rail network. Birmingham has spectacularly failed to achieve either. This much sought after status cannot and will not be afforded a city where public transport is little better than third world.
This is the context in which Birmingham appears to have abandoned its quest for a modern rapid transit network in favour of a few extra buses.
Research has shown that buses do not encourage commuters to abandon their cars in favour of public transport, neither do they bring the economic benefits associated with rail and light rail.
They will not impress the hoped-for influx of international passengers for whom high-quality rapid transit networks have long been accepted as the norm in their own towns and cities.
National Government – largely responsible for persistently denying the region appropriate funding for transport during the years of plenty – will no doubt be happy to continue to support cities like Manchester and Newcastle, which do have world class transport networks, while continuing to deny Birmingham.
The nation’s second city is not being offered the best, nor even second best in terms of its public transport.
Comfortably overtaken by cities in countries like Venezuela and Cambodia, Birmingham’s reputation as the city with the most backward public transport in the developed world would appear to be secure for the foreseeable future. Its aspirations must, unfortunately, now be downgraded from global and international to provincial and commonplace.