Effective and efficient digital and physical connectivity and capacity will underpin, and are essential to, unlocking the full economic potential of the Tay Cities region. Improved connectivity will assist us to realise the opportunities and deliver our ambitions for economic growth.
The region lies at the heart of Scotland’s strategic road and rail networks, connecting Scotland’s 7 city regions with each other, with the UK and internationally. Despite its central location the region currently suffers from congestion and unreliable journey times as a result of hotspots on the strategic road network, particularly around Dundee and Perth. Poor connectivity impacts upon the competitiveness of businesses in our region and those who access markets through the region. Issues of network and train capacity, lengthy journey times and overcrowding, limit the attractiveness and effectiveness of rail for commuting, business and leisure travel and also constrain the potential for movement of goods by rail. In addition road and rail connectivity to key economic drivers such as ports and visitor attractions are also sub-optimal, as is air and international connectivity through Dundee and Edinburgh Airports.
The majority of people (82%) live and work within the region and connecting the workforce with employment opportunities across the Tay Cites region is vitally important. Lack of mobility, excessive journey times and availability of viable and affordable public transport options contribute to a mismatch between where vacancies exist and where people live. Given the projected timescale associated with delivering significant numbers of new job opportunities within the region, it also remains important that residents of Angus, Dundee, North East Fife and Perth & Kinross are able to access employment opportunities outwith the region.
Improved digital connectivity will be a critical factor in the development of knowledge intensive businesses across the Tay Cities region. It is also integral to the development of more business innovation, internationalisation and in supporting inclusive growth. Currently the Tay Cities region lags behind others within Scotland and the UK, and performs well below other international comparators in terms of high speed broadband, fibre to premises provision, mobile coverage, and in terms of access to Public Wi-Fi.
Through the implementation of this strategy we aim to:
- support the development of ultrafast broadband in the main urban areas
- support the delivery of superfast broadband in the wider region
- provide improved solutions for improved 4G coverage and develop a roadmap for 5G coverage
- improve the provision of free public Wi-Fi___33 across key settlements.
Connectivity is also needed to ensure that businesses are able to access markets, customers and suppliers more easily and cost-effectively. Improved connectivity will make our region more attractive to investors and tourists. Consequently, improved connectivity to the major transport hubs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and other European cities is a vital part of this strategy.
Our approach will focus on improving connectivity to and between key business and tourist locations. However major investment is also required in improved road, rail, port, air and digital connectivity, infrastructure and capacity across the region and beyond. We will develop a range of proposals to invest in both digital and physical transport infrastructure to help to unlock the full economic potential of the Tay Cities region, its people and businesses, and to increase our contribution to the economic growth and wellbeing of Scotland.
We will work together as a partnership of four local authorities, Regional Transport Partnerships, Highlands & Islands Airports Limited, ScotRail Alliance, bus operators, Transport Scotland, BT Openreach and mobile phone operators to invest appropriately in the essential physical and digital connections that will help our economy grow and thrive.