Young Voices Steer the Future of Public Transport in Northern England

The project enabled over 100 students from schools across West Yorkshire to engage with leading employers and develop skills while providing insights on the proposed mass transit system. Eight standout students represented their peers at a prestigious conference panel, confidently sharing their visions for an accessible, sustainable transit system that expands opportunities for young people in the region.


Mott MacDonald, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and West Yorkshire Mayor, in conjunction with leading ESG partner, Ahead Partnership, recently hosted eight young people from schools across West Yorkshire at UKREiiF. The young people took centre stage at a panel session on Thursday, showcasing their visions and insights on the region’s proposed mass transit system.

In total, over 100 year 12 students from Brigshaw High School, Beckfoot School, Shelley College, Brighouse High School and Leeds City College took part in this interactive project, which has been adapted to be as inclusive as possible, providing maximum opportunity to the region’s young people and prompting consideration on key issues such as how impacted mobility can affect access to public transport.

Students from each school who went above and beyond in their presentations were invited to represent their peers at the prestigious UKREiiF conference during an exclusive panel co-hosted by Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, and Steven Adams, a graduate transport planner from Mott MacDonald. The panel was introduced by Georgina Johnson, Programme Manager at Ahead Partnership, who provided an overview of the programme’s achievements to date, emphasizing the importance of youth consultation in major regional projects such as mass transit.

Having developed their public speaking and presentation skills during the initial project, the young leaders confidently responded to a range of questions, including “What do you think needs to be done to make more people aware of mass transit?” and “What opportunities will mass transit create for you as a young person in the region?”.

Key findings were that young people felt that mass transit would provide them better access to jobs and work experience, and wanted maximum accessibility and safety to be provided when travelling on public transport, to ensure that everyone is provided equal opportunities. Sustainability was also frequently brought up, with a number of different students noticing the positive impact it would have on air quality and reducing reliance on cars.

Following the session, the eight young people also had the opportunity to network with a range of built environment and infrastructure professionals gaining first-hand insight into this industry-leading event.

Sponsored by WYCA and Mott MacDonald, the project has enabled young people to engage directly with leading industry employers on the opportunities that mass transit will bring, developing their leadership and communication skills, as well as learning more about the positive impact that improved public transport will have on themselves and their communities.

Stephanie Burras CBE, Chief Executive at Ahead Partnership, said: “The vision for mass transit is set to bring profound benefits to many across the region and beyond, but in order for it to be truly inclusive and accessible, it’s important that we seek the views of all who are set to benefit, including young people. We’ve been so impressed by the insights and suggestions of all the young people who have been involved, and were incredibly proud to welcome them to one of the industry’s most prestigious conferences to share their views with key stakeholders and sector leaders.

“Thank you to each of our partners for realising this opportunity to engage young people in exciting developments within their region, enhancing their skills and confidence, and opening their eyes to the multitude of career opportunities that projects such as mass transit can offer them.”

Lisa Littlefair, Leeds City Lead at Mott MacDonald said: “From community engagement and transport planning, to sustainability and engineering, the vision for mass transit will require skills and expertise across a number of disciplines to create a public transport system that is accessible, sustainable and inclusive. That is why we are proud to be supporting young people explore future career opportunities that will help drive the growth and prosperity of the region. The creativity from the students has been incredible and it demonstrates the strength of skill and talent we have on our doorstep.”

To find out more about Ahead Partnership, visit: www.aheadpartnership.org.uk.

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