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Earlier this month, the Chancellor announced his 2021 budget plans. Key areas for the transport and infrastructure industry included:

  • The ‘Build Back Better’ pledge to support economic growth through significant investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation. 
  • A £4.8bn ‘Levelling Up Fund’ to invest in infrastructure to improve everyday lives across the UK, supporting town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects and cultural and heritage assets. 
  • A new infrastructure bank based in Leeds, to drive at least £40bn of green investment across the UK in public and private projects to finance the green industrial revolution. 
  • Eight new freeports throughout England are due to enter operation later this year to help regenerate areas, encouraging employment and investment.

The Build Back Better pledge was followed a week later by the Prime Minister’s vision to boost connectivity across the UK with improved transport infrastructure following the interim report of Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review. 

Plans to drive green investment were echoed in the announcement of the second round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, where grants of up to £2m each have been made available to help the nation build back greener from the coronavirus pandemic.

In other news this month, on International Women’s Day parliamentarians from across the political spectrum called on government and the transport industry to challenge macho culture, following publication of new research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Transport and the industry group, Women in Transport.  The study fills a gap in knowledge about women’s and men’s perceptions and experiences while working in the transport sector. It identifies a perceived macho culture, and a mismatch between women’s experiences and men’s perceptions of women’s experiences. The report also shares best practice on the recruitment, retention and progression of women working in the sector. JFG Communications led the research and compilation of this report and we look forward to helping Women in Transport deliver the report recommendations and campaign for change.

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

Active Travel
Public Transport
Buses
Rail
E-mobility
Electric Vehicles
E-scooters
E-bikes
Diversity

Active Travel

  • Aberdeen City Council has announced it’s looking to bring new hydrogen-powered cargo bikes to the city, as part of its plans to lower emissions.
  • Work has begun to design ten Active Neighbourhood schemes across Greater Manchester city region to help promote cycling and walking as an alternative to car travel.
  • New research published this month by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed that School Streets (closing the roads around schools to traffic at drop-off and pick-up times) has reduced polluting nitrogen dioxide levels by up to 23% and is strongly supported by parents.
  • The Scottish Government has allocated £1.79m from its active travel budget to support 173 organisations across Scotland with improved cycling facilities. Delivered through Cycling Scotland’s Cycling Friendly Programme, facilities will include new showers, new cycle parking, and providing bikes to employees who may not have access.
  • Transport for West Midlands has officially launched West Midlands Cycle Hire with a bike hire trial in Sutton Coldfield. Bike hire will be rolled out to Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stourbridge, West Bromwich, Solihull and Walsall by the end of July.
  • The Welsh Government has pledged to spend £75m to get more people walking and cycling. Active travel schemes such will receive funding of £53m this year, with more than £20m to follow later.
  • A recent survey by market research firm, Redfield & Wilton Strategies, found that 47% of Londoners support the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, which have been designed to make streets around London easier to walk and cycle on by stopping cars, vans and other vehicles from using quiet roads as shortcuts.
  • A study conducted by Ipsos MORI shows 40% of respondents expect to walk more than before, even after pandemic restrictions are lifted. While a third of workers say they anticipate working from home more and doing their shopping locally.
  • A similar survey conducted by Transport for Greater Manchester has found that 47% of respondents plan to carry on walking and cycling more often in Greater Manchester once the pandemic is over.

Public transport:

  • Transport for West Midlands has introduced an initiative to encourage drivers of ageing, high emission vehicles to hand over their cars to be crushed for scrap, in return for £3,000 worth of alternative travel arrangements, including buses and trains, over two years.
  • A wide-ranging study by Imperial College London has found no traces of Covid-19 throughout Transport for London Tube or bus services.

Buses:

  • First Bus, Alexander Dennis and BYD UK are collaborating on a £9m investment to deliver 22 new electric single-deck buses to Glasgow in time for the COP26 climate change conference in November.
  • The government has announced a new £3m bus strategy, which will see passengers across England benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.
  • Brighton & Hove Council has been successful in a bid to receive £250,000 of funding to retrofit at least 17 of the city’s double-decker buses to reduce toxic emissions.
  • West Midlands Combined Authority has approved plans for Coventry to become the UK’s first All Electric Bus City. Under the plans, every bus in Coventry will be electric by 2025.
  • The Scottish Government has awarded £40.5m through a second round of the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. This will support operators in replacing 215 old diesel buses with new battery-electric models.

Rail:

  • The Department for Transport has announced the introduction of flexible rail season tickets from July. The tickets are designed to be used two or three days a week and could save hundreds of pounds for commuters no longer needing to commute five days a week.
  • The Scottish Government has announced Scotland’s railways will be nationalised next year, when the Scotrail franchise, currently run by Abellio, expires in March 2022.
  • The Railway Industry Association has called on the government to set out its plans to decarbonise the UK’s railways ahead of COP26 conference in November. The campaign is calling for a specific commitment to decarbonise the rail network through further electrification work and fleet orders of low carbon, self-powered rolling stock.

E-mobility:

The government has announced a £20m fund available for innovative electric vehicle projects.  Innovative ideas for zero-emissions vehicles could benefit from a share of £20m in funding. 

Electric Vehicles:

  • The government has announced it will provide grants of up to £2,500 for electric vehicles priced under £35,000, in a bid to allow the scheme’s funding to go further and help more people make the switch to an electric vehicle.
  • Tidal energy provider, Nova Innovation, has announced that cars in Shetland can now be fuelled by the power of the sea, using a tidal energy source. The first-of-its-kind electric charge point uses power from Nova’s tidal turbines which have been powering homes and businesses in Shetland for more than five years.

E-scooters:

The following UK towns and cities have either announced, launched or are consulting on trials this month:

  • Bristol and Bath (trial extended to include Kingswood, Hanham, Hillfields, St George, Mangotsfield, Downend and Staple Hill)
  • Wokingham
  • Wellingborough
  • Rusden
  • Higham Ferrers
  • Portsmouth
  • Southampton
  • Slough (trial area expanded to Langley, Britwell and Wexham)
  • Braintree
  • Brentwood
  • Chard (South Somerset)
  • Crewkerne (South Somerset)
  • Oxford (trial area expanded to Cowley and East Oxford)
  • Great Yarmouth

E-bikes:

  • 30 Beryl e-bikes are now available to hire from bays across the city of Hereford.
  • Bike hire company ShareBike is teaming up with The Big Issue to operate Aberdeen’s new electric bike hire scheme. The scheme will see 450 bikes initially being installed at various locations throughout the city.

Diversity:

  • New research published by the government-backed Behavioural Insights Team and jobs website, Indeed, shows offering flexible working explicitly in job adverts would increase applications by up to 30%.
  • Scotland to London rail operator, London North Eastern Railway has vowed to significantly increase its female train driver applicants to 40% by 2025. The total increased from 7% of applications in 2017, to 17% last year.
  • The government has announced the creation of a new advisory council to lead the UK’s gender equality work at the G7. The council will produce recommendations to drive women’s empowerment across the world to ensure women are at the heart of the build back better agenda.
  • A poll of UK women by internet forum, Mumsnet, has found that more than half of its respondents expect gender equality to go into reverse over the next few years. The study found that 70% of mothers with male partners were responsible for home schooling and three-quarters said during lockdown it was easier for their partner to work uninterrupted.
  • Professional Services firm, PwC’s latest Women in Work index, which studied a range of factors including the gender pay gap and female unemployment, showed progress for women is expected to fall more than two percent between 2019 and 2021. This will represent the first decline for almost a decade.
  • Figures from the Scottish Government have revealed the gender pay gap for full-time employees in Scotland has decreased 7.2% in 2019 to 3.0% in 2020. The gender pay gap for all employees in Scotland decreased from 14.4% in 2019 to 10.9% in 2020, the lowest since the series began in 1997.
  • The Royal College of Physicians has announced Dr Cathyrn Edwards has been appointed as its new registrar, the first female to be appointed in over 500 years.
  • British Transport Police has announced Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi has been appointed as its first female Chief.

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.