Expert Bureau: What is the Future of Transport?
- John Higginson
- Kerry McCarthy MP, Shadow Minister for Green Transport
- Natalia Peralta Silverstone, Head of Propositions at Octopus Electric Vehicles
- Michael Hurwitz, Director of Transport Innovation at Transport for London
- Dominick Moxon-Tritsch, Director of Regulation and Public Policy at Bolt
- Jonn Elledge, Columnist for the New Statesman
The chair John Higginson kicked off the event highlighting the strain the coronavirus pandemic has put on our transport systems, and by asking the panellists what they thought the future of transport was now that the national lockdown was over.
The consensus from the panel was that infrastructure needs to improve to better accommodate changing transport trends. These include an increase in cycling, electric vehicles, and a rise of micro-mobility such as e-scooters.
The conversation moved quickly onto the importance for a green transport recovery in the wake of the national lockdown. For Kerry McCarthy MP, one of the most important steps is to bring forward the ban on the sale of Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles from 2040 to 2030.
Natalia Peralta Silverstone from Octopus Electric Vehicles agreed, adding that the government must throw its support behind the switch to electric vehicles (EV) in public and private transport. This means that if people cannot use public transport, they can at least still be traveling in an energy efficient way.
Dominick Moxon-Tritsch from Bolt and journalist Jonn Elledge identified a clear trend since lockdown of people avoiding public transport in favour of cars. While this makes people feel safer in terms of COVID, it is fundamentally unsustainable for the transport industry. Cars take up too much road space, they disincentivize cyclists and add to high emission levels.
To Michael Hurwitz from TfL, the solution to this is maintaining a good, reliable, safe public transport service. This will encourage commuters back to public transport post-lockdown.
Prompted by a question from Thomas McPhail from Pure Electric, the topic moved to e-scooters and micro-mobility as an alternative to car travel. Kerry and Dominick both flagged concerns about the safety of privately owned e-scooters, which are currently unregulated.
To Michael, the key to micro-mobility is controlling and regulating the market. If they become part of the mass market, then it is vital that e-scooters are treated as road vehicles and are not allowed on pavements.
To conclude the webinar the panel was asked how do we take the positive learnings of COVID and lockdown, such as being more aware of our impact on the world, into the future. They agreed that the public and private sector need to collaborate to improve infrastructure and educate the public on the importance of switching to EVs and/or clean fuel vehicles.
Thanks to all our panellists for their fantastic contributions, as well as to everyone who attended the webinar and asked questions.
If you are interested in continuing the discussion, or would like to find out more about Higginson Strategy’s Expert Bureau, please feel free to get in touch with Stephen Dillon ([email protected]).