Campaigners have called on ministers to accelerate the shift to sustainable transport by introducing new charges for drivers and improving public transport, walking and cycling.
The Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) said that while the effect of Covid-19 on transport has been vast, the need for sustainable transport has only strengthened.
The UK‘s first CYCLOPS (Cycle Optimised Protected Signals) junction has been launched in Manchester
In a new report, Covid-19 Recovery: Renewing the Transport System, CfBT set out its ideas as to how the transport system can be ‘transformed as part of a recovery programme to create jobs, tackle social exclusion, improve the environment and people’s health, and aid economic recovery’.
The report calls for a ‘world-leading public transport network’ with improved connectivity; 100% zero-emission road transport and railway; permanent improvements to sustain greater levels of walking and cycling; and changes to the way transport is paid for, including new means to raise revenue.
CfBT chief executive Darren Shirley said: ‘As the UK begins the process of recovery, the Government must now focus its ambition on accelerating the shift to sustainable transport and the delivery of infrastructure improvements that facilitate this to ensure that transport better serves communities across the country.
‘By focusing its financial support and policy improvements on public transport, walking and cycling, the Government can transform our transport system to facilitate economic growth, meet legal obligations around carbon emissions and air quality, and tackle social exclusion.’
The report calls on ministers to:
- require local transport authorities to produce plans linked to future government funding to permanently reshape local transport networks around active travel, shared and public transport
- ensure local authorities and bus operators work together to replan bus provision, with better integrated, multi-modal networks
- not return to the previous franchises on the railway and place a greater focus on leisure as well as commuter travel and new industry structures with devolution of control to city regions
- accelerate the shift to 100% zero-emission road and rail travel, with support for UK-based manufacturing
- lock in the shift to active travel with permanent infrastructure changes
- prioritise infrastructure to support sustainable transport, such as rail re-openings, bus priority and digital systems.
- establish new sources of raising revenue, such as workplace parking levies and road use charges to support the shift to sustainable transport.
A spokesman for the Confederation of Passenger Transport said: 'A long-term funding settlement for buses and practical measures on the ground to tackle road congestion and boost priority for buses are essential to provide the right environment for more bus use and deliver a green recovery.'
The Welsh Government recently announced a further bailout for the bus industry that it says would ‘rescue’ operators but also lead to public sector funders beginning to regain control of the industry.
The July issue of Highways magazine looks in detail at the issue of 'reimagining the road' following the pandemic.