This morning it emerged the Cardiff Business Partnership (CBP) have called upon the Welsh Assembly Government to invest a total of £2.5 billion over 10 years in order to construct a new metro system connecting Cardiff with Newport and the South Wales Valleys.
The report "Connecting Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys - a Metro for Wales's Capital City Region" outlines how commuters would be able to reach the capital from the Heads of the Valleys in just 40 minutes by 2025.
At a time when we are all feeling the pinch as a result of the recession, it is safe to say finding the resources to fund the project will be difficult. However, this proposal can only be viewed in a positive light, and should be welcomed with open arms by the Assembly at once.
The new metro network will provide the strategic development needed to boost this area's economic situation, which has admittedly been in decline for the last 10 years. City regions such as Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Edinburgh are currently beavering away at developing their public transport systems in an attempt to boost their local economies, and it is proving successful.
The metro system will tackle the unemployment which has been crippling parts of the capital region since the dawn of the financial crisis, not only through providing construction work, but also establishing a more efficient connection to the city, where jobs are more readily available.
It currently takes over an hour to reach Cardiff by bus from Merthyr Tydfil, an area which particularly bears the burdens of unemployment. It is also impossible to reach Swansea from Cardiff on a Sunday before 11am, for trains do not start until 10. This is simply unacceptable. How can South Wales possibly compare to other capital regions when a basic service such as public transport is disjointed, irregular and unreliable?
The metro will allow South Wales to be better connected, more efficient, and more coherent. It will boost the morale of the local people with a joint vision of an improvement in Wales's economic fortune, as well as emphasise the need for devolution - particularly when it comes to the Assembly's money raising powers.
In this current climate, economic growth and community morale should be a priority for the Assembly. The Bay politicans should grab this opportunity with both hands, and create a more cohesive, positive South Wales community.