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Councillor calls for Transport for London style system in Kent

Calls have been made to create an integrated transport system of buses and trains across the county.

Kent's Labour group has lobbied the Conservative administration at Maidstone County Hall to draw up proposals for a joined up travel service, adopting the Transport for London (TfL) model.

A Southeastern train
A Southeastern train

This would include lower fares, more frequent services and a Kent oyster card that enables travel on multiple modes of transport, such as buses and trains.

Margate county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab), shadow cabinet member for transport, told the panel: "Let's have Transport for Kent. That should be the way forward."

His comments were made on Wednesday (Sep 8) during a virtual meeting involving more than a dozen councillors and senior officers, who sit on KCC's transport committee.

It came alongside a County Hall report, which was published to the committee last week, outlining the early stages of a new county-wide transport plan.

The aim is to meet the needs of Kent's 1.85million residents, visitors and local businesses travelling in and out of the 12 districts over the next decade.

The proposed view looking north from the A2 to the Lower Thames Crossing. Image from Highways England
The proposed view looking north from the A2 to the Lower Thames Crossing. Image from Highways England

Key priorities include the delivery of large infrastructure projects, namely the £8 billlion Lower Thames Crossing and £34 million Thanet Parkway Station in the village of Cliffsend, connecting residents to London in just over an hour.

In addition, KCC is seeking further government funding for new bus services, walking and cycling schemes and more electric vehicle charging points, contributing to Whitehall's net zero emissions target by 2050.

KCC's cabinet member for transport, Cllr David Brazier (Con), said: "There has been such enormous change in the county over the last five years that we feel we must bring powers to bear to review and update what we did before."

Speaking to Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green party colleagues in the online debate on Wednesday, he added: "We are already transferring fossil fuels to electric power while the Lower Thames Crossing will be a real entity.

"There is unprecedented growth of housing in the county and there have been numerous changes in freight patterns arising out of Brexit."

Buses and trains would be linked up better in the plan
Buses and trains would be linked up better in the plan

However Cllr Lewis has called for the authority to go much further, including introducing more rural bus services, suggesting the creation of a new bus connection alongside the Thanet Parkway station development in Cliffsend.

After the meeting, Cllr Lewis added: "In Kent, we need a joined up bus and train service that compliments each other."

In London, the city operates integrated transport services, including buses, trams, rail, overground, DLR and the London Underground.

Passengers can invest in Oyster and contactless card payments that help them move around the capital using different modes of travel.

There are around 9,300 buses operating 675 routes while the Tube covers 402km and serves 270 stations, handling up to five million commuters a day.

Cllr Barry Lewis
Cllr Barry Lewis

At the meeting, Cllr Lewis also said: "If we do a plan for Kent we should be independent of the south east.

"If you want the model, look what's across the Dartford Tunnel and see what happens in London. Transport for London works."

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