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Calendar showing month of July with a magnifying glass on top

A look at the transport industry in July

This month we saw the launch of the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan. The plan provides details on the way forward to create cleaner air, healthier communities and tens of thousands of new green jobs. Pledges by the government include a £2bn investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, 4000 new zero emissions buses and infrastructure, net zero rail by 2050, banning the sale of new petrol and diesel lorries by 2040 and consultation on ‘jet zero’ – steps to achieve aviation net zero by 2050.

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-Scoters
E-Bikes
Aviation
Air Quality
Diversity

Active travel

  • New statistics from cycling and walking charity, Sustrans show 44.8% of school children walk to school, however this is lower than the number doing so in 2008. Thenumber of children travelling to school by bus also fell to a low of 14.1% in 2020. As a result, a number of politicians and cycling campaigners say more should be done to make routes to school safer for those who want to walk or cycle to school.
  • According to official statistics, road journeys taken by cyclists surged during the first lockdown last year, reaching a high point of 38.4 times the normal level on 5th These figures have now declined to around pre-pandemic levels. Car journeys, which fell as low as 23% of the usual level, are now almost back to normal. 
  • Analysis of government cycle count data from March to July shows leisure time cycling trips were up 28% on Saturdays and Sundays across England and down 3% on weekdays against pre-pandemic levels. Cycling peaked at 300% above pre-pandemic levels on some days in 2020. Campaigners are warning that without investment in safe cycling infrastructure, more people will return to cars for everyday trips.
  • The Belfast Bikes scheme, introduced in 2015, has continued to grow in popularity, and currently has 400 bikes with 47 docking stations. Four new docking stations have been proposed as it further expands its network throughout the city.
  • Around 15 bikes recently fished out of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads by the Broads Authority have been donated to Bicycle Links CIC, where they will be refurbished for people in Norwich who need transport, including refugees, asylum seekers and those seeking work and in need of transport.
  • Volvo Car UK, together with plastic road company MacRebur and Leeds City Council have joined together to resurface a section of a popular cycling route in Leeds using a combination of recycled steel, 850kg of waste plastics and aggregate formed from slag steel. The road was opened by local triathlon heroes Alistair and Johnny Brownlee.
  • Kingston Council is adding a further two schools to its ‘School Streets’ scheme, banning vehicles from roads outside these schools during drop-off and pick-up times from September. The trial will run for at least six months.
  • According to the latest figures, the CityConnect cycle superhighway linking Leeds and Bradford has had more than 1.7m trips on it by bike since it opened in 2016.
  • Walking charity, Living Streets, has launched a campaign to rid Britain’s streets of clutter. An increase in e-bikes, e-scooters and on-street dining has seen more space taken away from pedestrians, with over a third of people (34%) saying they would visit their local High Street more if pavements were less cluttered.
  • Transport for London and Hounslow Council have published data which suggests a trial cycle lane in Chiswick has led to a significant increase in the number of people cycling, while also reducing road danger and improving air quality. Data shows cycling along the trial route increased by 72% on weekdays between February and April 2021. In total, up to 2,700 people a day are cycling along the route.
  • Londoners are being offered a monthly bicycle rental subscription from Dutch bike-hire giant, Swapfiets. Bikes are offered for rental from £13 per month, with London being the first UK city to offer this kind of scheme.
  • Up to 600 children will learn to cycle safely on the Isle of Wight this year as a result of a £14,575 grant from the Department for Transport to offer cycle training for children and their families across England. The Island’s five newly qualified instructors will teach children road safety skills, under the national Bikeability cycling proficiency scheme.
  • Transport for Greater Manchester has launched a new £800,000 funding package and interactive web portal to help businesses and employers embed sustainable travel behaviours, head off a car-led recovery and build back better from the pandemic. The new funding is made up of two pots:
    • £250,000 for SMEs for interventions such as cycle parking, pool bikes and changing or storage solutions.
    • £550,000 to help provide cycle parking for small businesses/organisations, NHS, Housing Associations and schools.

Public Transport

  • Despite nearly all Covid-19 restrictions being lifted in England earlier in July, Transport for London has confirmed mask wearing will remain compulsory on the Tube and other TfL services.
  • The Mayor of Greater Manchester has announced passengers on Metrolink – the UK’s largest light rail network – will have to continue wearing a face covering unless they are exempt.
  • Research from transport watchdog, Transport Focus, shows three in five people have stated they will not use public transport services unless other passengers are wearing masks. A further poll from YouGov showed 71% of people think face coverings should continue to be mandatory on public transport.
  • According to research from professional services network, PWC, 50% of 2000 people surveyed from across the UK are willing to pay more for travel costs to help protect the environment and reduce the UK’s carbon footprint. Lower earners and the self-employed are more supportive of paying more than those on higher salaries and in employment throughout the pandemic.
  • Five projects using technology to support disabled travellers have received funding from the Department for Transport. Almost £600,000 from this year’s Accessibility Transport Research and Innovation Grant has been awarded to projects focused on removing the barriers disabled people face when using public transport.

Elsewhere in public transport this month:

Buses

  • Transport for London has launched England’s first set of hydrogen-powered buses. The 50 hydrogen buses will join an existing fleet of 500 electric buses in a bid to turn the city’s buses net-zero by 2030.
  • Essex County Council is working in partnership with Essex bus operators to develop a package of measures to transform the network over the coming years, with a long-term goal to grow the county network, reduce carbon and air quality emissions from car traffic, reduce congestion and support jobs and the local economy.
  • Norther Irish bus manufacturer, Wrightbus has presented its first battery-electric vehicle in its portfolio. The StreetDeck Electroliner has capacity for 94 passengers with up to 200 mile range.
  • Logan Energy is to design and supply one of the largest capacity hydrogen refuelling stations in Europe. A £1.6m Belfast refuelling station is set to be installed in Newtownabbey Bus Depot and will supply a fleet of 20 purpose-built Hydrogen Fuel Cell buses.
  • Bus operators across England will benefit from £226.5m in government funding to help ensure they continue to run vital services as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. The funding will run from September 2021 to April 2022 and will support operators across England, outside of London.
  • The Scottish Government has launched the first £50m phase of a new Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund. The fund replaces previous funding streams and is designed to encourage the market to agree and implement new and innovative ways to finance zero emissions buses.
  • The trial of a driverless shuttle bus in Cambridge has been hailed a success, with almost all passengers saying they would travel on the vehicle again without hesitation. 304 passengers travelled just over 1,000km aboard the autonomous shuttle as project leaders Greater Cambridge Partnership, Smart Cambridge and engineering firm Aurrigo, sought to see how the technology could be included within public transport networks in the future.
  • Family business, Pelican Engineering, has delivered the first vehicles in its largest single UK order. Bus operator, McGill’s Group has received the first vehicles in an order for 55 Yutong all-electric buses, which will be used on routes throughout Glasgow and Renfrewshire, including during the forthcoming COP26 climate change conference.
  • A new On Demand bus service is being trialled in Coventry as part of plans to make the region’s travel greener. It will operate between the city and Warwick University Campus, and will allow passengers to call a bus using a smartphone app.

Rail

  • Funding has been made available by the government to develop the Rail Data Marketplace (RDM), a collaboration between the government and the rail industry to provide the tools and frameworks to open up rail data through a new single-access platform. The RDM will unleash new opportunities for developers and tech companies to collaborate with the industry and integrate rail data into passenger-facing apps and develop new services.
  • Winners of the 2021 First of a Kind competition were announced by the Transport Secretary, with the focus this year being on making railways cleaner, greener and more passenger friendly. Thirty ground breaking projects will share £9m of funding, including the development of an overhead conductor system specifically designed for UK freight terminals which currently rely on diesel shunters, a system to monitor people flow, congestion points and behaviour at stations so operators can remove bottlenecks and deploy countermeasures, and a scheme that provides an interchangeable interior train carriage for quick deep cleaning and allows operators to rejig seating layouts at short notice.
  • Earlier in July HS2 launched Cecilia, the second of two enormous 2,000 tonne tunnelling machines that will excavate the ten mile long tunnels between the Chiltern Hills just outside London. 
  • A groundbreaking pilot scheme has been introduced to coordinate the rail industry in helping those who are sleeping rough at stations. The scheme, operated by Shelter on behalf of Network Rail has been introduced to help meet the government’s objective of ending rough sleeping by 2024. Shelter has trained a number of Network Rail staff to connect with the people they encounter sleeping rough and refer them to Shelter’s expert services.
  • Scotrail has announced the launch of specially adapted carriages on its West Highland Line to accommodate up to 20 bikes and bulky sports gear, in a bid to encourage people to leave the car at home and use the train to explore Scotland’s great outdoors.
  • Light rail operators across England will benefit from up to £56m in government funding to help ensure they continue to run vital services as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. The funding will run from July 2021 until April 2022 and will support operators across the North and the Midlands.
  • Chiltern Railways has celebrated its 25thanniversary with the launch of HybridFLEX, Britain’s first battery-diesel train. The greener and quieter train will deliver emission-free battery operation, reducing CO2 by up to 25%, nitrous oxide by up to 70% and particulates by up to 90%.

E-mobility

Electric vehicles

  • In partnership with national disability charity, Motability, The Department for Transport has commissioned the British Standards Institution to develop accessibility standards for EV chargepoints across the UK, allowing disabled drivers to easily identify which models are suitable for their needs.
  • Energy firm, Gridserve, has unveiled plans to develop a new £100m electric vehicle charging infrastructure project. The Gridserve Electric Highway will consist of a network of more than 50 high powered ‘electric hubs’, 300 rapid chargers at more than 150 locations and more than 100 electric forecourts across the UK.
  • Car manufacturer, Nissan, has announced details of a new battery ‘gigafactory’ that will enable its Sunderland car plant to massively increase production of electric vehicles. The £1bn battery plan, built in partnership with Chinese manufacturer Envision, will create 900 jobs at Nissan, plus 750 at Envision.
  • According to a new report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, almost 2.3 million electric vehicle chargepoints are needed to support the UK automotive sector’s net zero.
  • Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, plug-in vehicles continued to increase market share in June. Combined battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles accounted for 17.2% of new vehicles registrations.
  • Transport for Wales has appointed SWARCO UK Ltd to deliver a rapid charging network, which will be part-funded by the Welsh Government. The installation will provide a rapid electric vehicle charge point around every 25 miles on the Welsh Strategic Road Network.
  • British automotive brand, Vauxhall Motors, has confirmed it will not sell any cars or vans with internal combustion engines, including hybrids, from 2028 onwards.
  • Bin trucks claimed to be Scotland’s first rural all-electric refuse vehicles are being piloted by SP Energy Networks in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council. Two new refuse vehicles, funded as part of SP Energy Network’s £20m Green Economy Fund will be introduced onto routes serving local communities across both Dumfries and Stranraer.

E-Scooters

  • Oxford is expanding the areas covered by its e-scooter trial, with new areas including Marston, Cowley, Hinksey, Iffley, Rose Hill, Barton and Florence Park.
  • Scooters in the Nottingham e-scooter trial have been used for more than 500,000 rides since the trial was launched last October. New ‘patrollers’ have been deployed to ensure users are following the rules, taking action against anyone caught pavement riding, or riding or parking their scooter irresponsibly.
  • A survey from micromobility firm, Voi, has found that incorporating e-scooters into the public transport ecosystem can help boost ticket sales at key locations. The study, carried out in Stuttgart, Germany, found there was a 35% increase in rail tickets purchased by Voi users who ended their journeys at one of the largest rail stations in the city, when compared to other locations.
  • Voi’s e-scooter trial in the West of England has clocked up over one-million rides since its launch 12 months ago. The firm estimates around 370,000 car trips have been replaced since the beginning of the trial, reducing over 200 tonnes of carbon emissions.
  • The London e-scooter trial has been expanded to three more London boroughs. City of London, Southwark and parts of Lambeth have started rolling out e-scooters, taking the total number available to rent in the capital to 1,200.
  • The Isle of Wight’s e-scooter trial has been expanded to Shanklin and Sandown, increasing the fleet of e-scooters on the island by 25.
  • Portsmouth’s e-scooter trial has been expanded to Queen Alexandra Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital. Parking racks for key workers and visitors have been added to both hospital sites.

E-bikes

  • Electric bikes are now available for hire in Musselburgh as part of an expansion of the South East Scotland Transport Partnership’s regional e-bike programme.
  • The city and county councils in Leicester and Leicestershire have been provided with £250,000 of funding from the Department for Transport to incentivise residents to adopt e-bikes for commuting and getting around the area. Residents will be given the chance to get £300 off the cost of an e-bike and a scheme that loans e-bikes to commuters has been expanded.
  • Data from the 2021 European Bicycle Industry and Market Profile Report shows 22 million e-bikes were sold across the EU and UK during 2020, representing a 52% increase on the previous year.

Aviation

  • The Aviation Index, an annual study commissioned by air traffic service provider, NATS and carried out by IPSOS MORI, shows more than three in every five people felt uncomfortable with the idea of travelling internationally this year, with 61% saying they were unlikely to book a flight or trip abroad. Over two thirds (68%) did say they missed travelling abroad though.
  • According to a passenger survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association, 83% of airline passengers strongly support mask-wearing onboard flights.
  • Eight companies have been shortlisted to receive a share of £15m to develop first of a kind production plants across the UK that will turn waste into jet fuel. The Green Fuels, Green Skies Competition will support these 8 companies as they pioneer new technologies, converting materials such as household waste, alcohol, carbon from the atmosphere, and sewage, into jet fuel at commercial scales, offering emissions savings of over 70% compared to the use of conventional fossil jet fuel.

Air Quality

  • Bristol City Council has announced its Clean Air Zone will launch in the summer next year, around 9 months later than originally planned. A new loans and grants scheme will be launched in the autumn of this year to help citizens and businesses upgrade their vehicles in preparation.
  • The Mayor of London has announced an additional £5m funding to support disabled and low-income Londoners to scrap older, more polluting vehicles, bringing the total investment up to £61m.
  • Highways England has outlined four key commitments that will help them achieve net zero by 2050, including:
    • Reducing carbon emissions by 75% by 2025 compared with the 2017/18 baseline.
    • Achieving net zero for its own operations by 2030.
    • Delivering net zero road maintenance and construction by 2040.
    • Supporting net zero carbon travel by 2050.
  • Highways England has cut speed limits to 60mph on sections of the M1, M6 and M5 motorways for the foreseeable future in a bid to reduce illegally high levels of emissions.

Diversity

  • The number of women CEOs at top airlines has doubled in recent months, with three appointments at the top 100 airlines in 2021.
  • The Gender Equality Forum, the largest international conference on women’s rightsin more than 25 years and hosted in Paris by and the governments of France and Mexico, has launched plans to support efforts to tackle gender inequality with billions of pounds pledged.
  • North Yorkshire Council Council has announced half of its senior management team overseeing the authority’s highways department are now women.
  • West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has called for construction employers to increase the number of women apprentices in their business. With women making up only one in ten of the total construction workforce, and one in 100 frontline workers, the WMCA is working with the Cross-industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force to help address this gap.
  • According to a report by think tank, New Financial, women hold 39% more positions on boards across the UK financial services industry than they did five years ago.
  • An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on diversity and inclusion in STEM has found that marginalised groups in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workforce have suffered disproportionately during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The government has published a new strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, to ensure they are safe at home, online and in the streets. The strategy sets out to improve the criminal justice response to rape, toughen sentences and protection for victims through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, as well as the recruitment of 20,000 more police officers to make streets safer.

We hope you found this roundup interesting and informative. We would welcome feedback on any other information you would like to see included in this bulletin. 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.