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In this blog we take a look at events in the transport industry over the last few weeks.

Concerns over air pollution have been making headlines in recent weeks. Measurements taken from the BT Tower in London by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at the University of Reading show the second national Lockdown had no further impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions in central London. 

Further studies reveal similar patterns for cities throughout England. With a study of 49 cities and large towns showing nitrogen dioxide levels having now hit or exceeded pre-pandemic levels in around 80% of places studied. 

Furthermore, research on behalf of fleet management company, LeasePlan, shows almost half of respondents in the UK are concerned about increased congestion and pollution from delivery vehicles as a result of a boom in home deliveries.

Below we take a look in more detail at what’s been happening in our core policy areas of transport and diversity.

Active Travel
Buses
Rail
Emobility
E-Scooters
E-Bikes
Electric Vehicles (EV's)
Diversity

Active Travel

  • In December, Transport for Greater Manchester announced it will be using almost £16m from the government’s Active Travel Fund to deliver 24 miles of permanent walking and cycling routes throughout the city.
  • A report by Transport for London found Londoners were travelling by foot or on bike 29% more than they did before the pandemic. Even as restrictions were eased, walking and cycling accounted for an estimated 37% of all journeys in the capital between May and September.
  • The operator of London’s Santander Cycles has been appointed by Transport for West Midlands to offer bikes for hire in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Walsall from the Spring, following the failure of a similar scheme last year.
  • Aberdeenshire Council has received an award from Cycling Scotland for its commitment to making it easier for people to cycle. The Council encouraged people to travel by bike through a number of initiatives including improved facilities, a cycle to work scheme for its staff, and producing cycling maps and active travel information.
  • The Scottish Government has awarded more than £22m to projects in Ayr, Hawick and Broughty Ferry designed to encourage more walking and cycling. 
  • The Co-op’s annual ethical consumerism report has found that over half of public transport users in the UK say they will continue to avoid buses and trains in favour of cycling or walking, even after the pandemic is over.

Buses

  • In Northern Ireland, a new contract has been awarded to local firm Wrightbus, for 145 zero and low emission buses. This represents an investment of around £66m by the Department for Infrastructure.
  • In Glasgow, the City Council has been awarded £1m to develop seven pop-up bus lanes with the objective of reducing bus journey times during morning and evening rush hour.
  • 32 electric double-decker buses supplied to Stagecoach have contributed to better air quality in Greater Manchester during the region’s pandemic lockdowns, with 600,000 zero emissions miles operated to date. This is the UK’s largest fleet of zero-emission double decker buses outside of London.
  • In London, Siemens Smart Infrastructure, working in partnership with bus provider Tower Transit, has provided charging infrastructure for 37 new fully-electric double-decker buses. Westbourne Park garage is now the operator’s first depot in London incorporating fully electric routes with power infrastructure, maintenance and charging facilities.

Rail

  • Network Rail has laid out its preliminary plans to decarbonise the rail network by 2050. Plans involve finding alternatives to diesel trains and electrifying more than 7,000 miles of track.
  • Crossrail stations will welcome round-the-clock trains for the first time when engineers begin 24-hour testing of the new tracks in March.
  • Hitachi Rail has announced an Intercity passenger train will be converted to run on battery power on the line between London and Penzance, for the first time in the UK. Trials are expected to begin in 2022.
  • Meanwhile, a stretch of railway in Sussex will become the first in the UK to be powered by community generated solar energy. After a successful pilot, it’s now ready for a wider rollout.
  • Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland, and the Hydrogen Accelerator have appointed Arcola Energy to help deliver Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train. 

E-mobility

E-scooters:

The popularity of e-scooters continues to grow, and demand continues to rise despite it remaining illegal to ride one in public unless part of one of the rental trials. Retailer Halfords is calling for legislation of e-scooters as they report a 184% rise in sales in the first half of the financial year. 

During December, the following places either launched, or announced plans/consultations for e-scooter trials:

  • Southampton
  • Winchester
  • Portsmouth
  • Chester
  • Kettering
  • Newcastle
  • Isle of Wight
  • Bournemouth
  • Christchurch
  • Poole
  • Birmingham (expanding trial zone to north and south-west of city)
  • Hounslow
  • Sandwell
  • Kettering
  • Chester
  • Taunton
  • Liverpool (expanding outside of city centre due to growing popularity)
  • Scunthorpe

E- bikes:

  • Electric bikes will be launched across Cambridge and Peterborough city centres from January.People will be able to hire the bikes through a partnership between Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority in collaboration with Voi Technology.

Electric Vehicles (EVs):

  • In December the government introduced green number plates to help raise awareness of cleaner vehicles. All zero-emissions vehicles are eligible to be fitted with a green number plate. This will help owners benefit from local initiatives such as cheaper parking and cost-free entry into zero-emissions zones. 
  • Private hire operator, Bolt, has launched a new initiative in London to help mini-cab drivers transition to electric vehicles. The pilot will feature various financial, educational and environmental initiatives that address the most commonly held barriers to electric vehicle usage.
  • The Welsh government published its strategy to achieve a substantial increase in the number of electric car charging points throughout the country. A proposed investment of £30m over 5 years will be set aside to help achieve the vision that ‘by 2025 all users of electric cars and vans will be confident they can access electric vehicle charging infrastructure when and where they need it.
  • Data from automotive marketplace Auto Trader, reveals a noticeable spike in engagement with electric vehicles on its website, following the government’s announcement to bring forward the date to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030.
  • The UK’s first forecourt for only electric cars was opened in December by clean energy company, Gridserve. Up to 36 cars can be charged simultaneously at the new site in Braintree, Essex. There is a waiting room, meeting room pods and electricity generating exercise bikes for motorists to use while they wait on their car batteries charging. 
  • Recent data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows sales of pure electric cars between January and November 2020 has more than doubled from 2019 figures. Diesel car sales were down 58% in the same period.

Diversity:

  • Gender equality campaigner, The Fawcett Society has published a new report highlighting the devastating impact of the coronavirus on equality in the workplace. It shows 43% of working women say they are worried about their job or promotion prospects due to the pandemic. On a more positive note, it shows that since the pandemic, the amount of time fathers spend caring for their children has doubled and many want to play a greater role in parenting.
  • Unconscious bias training is being discontinued for civil servants in England, with ministers saying it doesn’t work. This training has been used to tackle patterns of discrimination and prejudice throughout workplaces, however the government says there is no evidence it changes attitudes.
  • An independent review has found structural barriers are the main reason for pay disparities in medicine. The report found the gender pay gap between men and women in medicine is highest for hospital doctors, with women doctors earning 18.9% less an hour when adjusted for contracted hours. As a result, the government has committed to tackle the gender pay gap among doctors, making the NHS a more equal place to work.

We hope you found this roundup interesting and informative. Please contact us if you would like further information, or to find out more about the public affairs and diversity services we offer. Or sign up to our blog for up to date news, opinions and advice.