£2 congestion charge proposed for motorists driving into Cardiff

A £2 charge could be applied to non-Cardiff residents who drive into the city as part of a 10-year plan to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Cardiff Council unveiled its plans today following a consultation with thousands of city residents, health and transport experts.

It listed a series of projects designed to revolutionise public transport options in Cardiff and the region, including new tram and train routes, £1 bus fares and improved cycle networks.

The proposals suggest the £2bn cost could be part-funded by charging motorists who drive into the city, but could include an exemption for Cardiff residents.

Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport said: “Cardiff’s current transport network was designed half a century ago for a city of 200,000 people. Today, once commuters, shoppers and visitors are taken into account our city has a daily population of almost half a million. No wonder our transport network is creaking – it’s no longer fit for purpose.

“If you look at it from the point of view of the average Cardiff resident driving within the city to work every day, struggling for their bit of road space with the 80,000 other car commuters from outside the city’s boundaries then absolutely, traffic congestion, traffic pollution and a public transport system which struggles to adequately serve the people who live and work here are all issues of major concern - and so they should be."

  • What do the plans include?

Cardiff Metro

  • The creation of a Crossrail tram-train connecting east and west Cardiff via the new transport interchange at Central Square

  • The extension of the Cardiff Circle tram-train opening up new city routes

  • A new tram-train connecting Cardiff Central station with Cardiff Bay by 2023

  • Delivering phase 1 of Crossrail - a new tram-train service of minimum 4 trains per hour from Radyr to Cardiff Bay, via the city line and a new link south of Central and across Callaghan Square, by 2024

  • Deliver new stations at Loudon Square (Butetown), Cardiff Bay, Crwys Road and Roath Park by 2024

  • Deliver new stations at Gabalfa by 2028 as well as Victoria Park, Velindre, Roath Dock and Splott thereafter

  • Establish a new mainline station at Cardiff Parkway in St Mellons

  • Deliver station improvements at all existing train stations including extensive regeneration of Queen Street Station

  • Integrated ticketing system for public transport in Cardiff - including the Metro, bus and Nextbike - allowing one ticket to be used across the whole transport system

The proposed 'cross-rail' route Credit: Cardiff Council
The 'Circle Line' plans Credit: Cardiff Council

Bus transport

  • Establish a new cross-city bus network linked to the new METRO. This would include a new circular bus loop around the city centre which will mean passengers will no longer have to travel into the city centre to get to their destination. New bus stations will be built in the east and west of the city.

  • Technology to prioritise buses at traffic lights and junctions and access to regional destinations, such as Newport, Pontypridd and Penarth will be improved.

  • Working with bus operators to reduce all fares to £1 across the city.

  • New Park & Ride facilities to be built at Junction 32 and Junction 33 off the M4, with a new bus lane being built down the A4232 Link Road.

  • Bus and taxi operators to offered incentives to move towards electric vehicles and cleaner engines.

Active travel

  • Build a fully segregated cycle network by 2026. This will include a complete cycle loop around the city centre which will connect to each of six cycleways, which will be built through a number of districts across the city.

  • The Nextbike hire scheme will be expanded to at least 2000 bikes and new regional Nextbike opportunities will be introduced to give more people the opportunity to join the scheme.

  • Speed limits on Cardiff’s roads will be set to 20mph by default to encourage walking and cycling.

Fully segregated cycleways are included in the plans Credit: PA

Car travel

  • A universal, £2 fee applied to non-Cardiff residents who drive into the city which could reduce congestion, whilst raising money towards paying for improvements to the network.

  • "Significantly" increase the number of electric charging points across Cardiff by 2025 to encourage the take up of electric vehicles.

  • The Council’s fleet of vehicles to be fully electric or ‘zero emission capable’ by 2025.

  • Car Clubs giving members access to vehicles24-hours-a-day to be expanded, with the aim of reducing the need for residents to own their own car.

  • Lobby to complete the Eastern Bay Link Road and put infrastructure in place to better connect residents living in the east of the city.

  • SMART technology to monitor and respond to transport, traffic and parking data, in a bid to ease congestion

The plans include an increased number of electric vehicle charging points Credit: PA

The wider region

  • A new bus network to connect towns across the city region directly to the centre of Cardiff.

  • Work to improve accessibility for the communities of Llantrisant and Talbot Green to and from Cardiff. Work has already started to build a new transport interchange at Waungron Road which will link to a new Park & Ride facility at Junction 32 off the M4.

  • A SMART corridor will be piloted on a section of the A470 between Coryton and Gabalfa and is expected to be introduced in 2020.

  • A number of options are being explored to reduce congestion between Cardiff and Penarth, including a pilot electric bike scheme, interchange facilities at Cogan train station, investigations into the feasibility of walking and cycling facilities around the Penarth headland and a Cardiff Barrage bus link between Penarth and Cardiff.

Cllr Wild said any congestion charge would only be introduced after improvements had been made to public transport, to give people a viable alternative to driving.

He said: “If a charge is to be introduced, and it won’t be considered until a full business case is completed, then the Council would give a commitment that new infrastructure will be built in advance to make sustainable public transport a viable option for people."

He added: “Anyone who has been stuck in traffic in the city knows that something has to be done. Inaction will only lead to more gridlock, more pollution and more damage to our health and the environment. Our White Paper poses some difficult questions and makes clear the challenges we face as a city, but crucially it points towards solutions which can revitalise our transport network. None of us are happy with the way things are now and none of us want it to get any worse which is why we are looking at radical steps to transform the way the city works.”

Haf Elgar, Vice Chair of Healthy Air Cymru said: “It’s promising to see a road user charge being put forward in today’s transport white paper from Cardiff Council. This was a crucial element we felt was missing in the clean air plan and we are relieved to see that a long-term commitment to improving air quality features in the council’s transport vision.”