Councillors have approved plans to ban private cars from York’s medieval city centre by 2023. The move has been welcomed by the city’s largest bus operator.
While those who rely on cars, such as disabled residents, would be exempt, City of York Council wants an end to “non-essential” car journeys within the city walls.
The proposal is part of the authority’s response to climate change. The council, which is run by the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, wants to make the city carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years ahead of the UK government’s net zero target.
“People’s first response might be to be a bit anxious about what we’re proposing,” said Labour councillor Johnny Crawshaw. Who proposed the initiative.
“That doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. The public mood is changing, particularly in relation to climate change.”
York is not alone in approving plans that will prohibit car use. Bristol City Council approved plans last November to prevent diesel cars from entering parts of central Bristol in 2021 in a bid to cut air pollution.
Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader at City of York Council and executive member responsible for transport, commented: “Our largely pedestrianised shopping areas have already transformed the city centre and we are looking at options to take this to the next level.
“A car free and thriving city centre – which is accessible to those with limited mobility like blue badge holders – is achievable but only through detailed planning and engagement with those most affected by the proposals.
“Responding to the climate emergency will be a city-wide effort and we will develop our plans with York residents and businesses in the next year as we work to become a cleaner, greener city.”
The city’s main bus operator, First York, is keen to engage with the council and help to deliver the vision of a car free and thriving city centre. In addition to its urban network, the company operates Park and Ride services from six sites that encircle the city.
“We welcome this proposal and are ready to participate in consultation about how it can be implemented and the role of buses in helping achieve continuing reduction in reliance on car use in York city centre,” said Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York.
“We are committed to advancing our partnerships with local authorities. Forward-thinking initiatives such as this can present new opportunities for working together with bus operators to consider how further investment can not only combat road congestion and improve air quality, but support local economies and ultimately help increase passenger numbers.
“In York and cities elsewhere the congestion caused by individual car journeys is an even bigger contributor to air pollution, and we know each of our double-deckers can take up to 75 cars off congested streets. This however requires bold action to be taken in York to make buses an attractive choice. Reducing journey times and increasing punctuality and reliability of buses through real bus priority measures is needed if we are to reduce congestion effectively and protect the environment.”
About the Author
This post was written by Robert Jack. Robert is Managing Editor and Publisher of Passenger Transport. He has worked as a journalist, editor and publisher in the passenger transport sector for 18 years. He has played a key role in many transport-related conferences and events.