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Reading

Reading is a city of 143,000 inhabitants, located at the confluence of the rivers Thames and Kennet, 58 km west of London. The town management has implemented measures for sustainable transport, for example the popular public bike system.

The City of Reading demonstrates a modal split of 28.1 percent for private car use, 2.6 percent for cycling, 31.5 percent for walking, 20.7 percent bus use and 17.1 percent for rail.

Its strategic approach to transport management is currently defined by the Local Transport Plan which covers the period 2006-2011. The main targets of the plan include tackling congestion, delivering accessibility, improving road safety, and addressing air quality. Measures and schemes that have been undertaken recognize the need to change travel behaviour in order to reduce reliance on car use and to increase the ability of residents and visitors to choose more sustainable travel modes.

The plan’s objectives are to:
• improve access to employment, education, health care and food shops;
• reduce congestion;
• improve personal safety on the transport network;
• protect and enhance the built and natural environment;
• develop Reading’s role as regional hub and gateway; and
• deliver transport solutions that make the best use of investment.

Achievements to date include innovative measures such as creating an intelligent transport management system, creating a network of “premiere routes”, and implementing a real-time passenger information system.

A special emphasis on clean vehicles and alternative fuels is demonstrated by the introduction in May 2008 of 14 EEV-standard bio-ethanol fueled, double-decker buses. These constitute the first large fleet of ethanol buses to roll out in the UK. The Reading Borough Council distributed a grant to pay for the fuelling station, which is available for other operators to use if they wish. The ethanol is produced from sugar waste from a sugar refinery that processes UK-grown beets. It doesn’t take away land from food production or affect rain forests and is therefore very sustainable.

The Reading Borough Council has identified a number of challenges. A major logistical challenge is that the main railway station will be rebuilt over the next three years. Interchange facilities for buses, bicycles and pedestrians as well as for taxis and cars will be completely relocated and rebuilt.

Regarding partnerships, the Reading Borough Council has worked extensively with local businesses, neighbouring councils, the regional development agency and the regional government office. It works with local stakeholders at all stages of the local transport plan. Uniquely, the Reading Borough Council has opened up its entire transport strategy for independent scrutiny by an Independent Transport Commission.

Summary finalized: July 2010

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