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Calendar showing August 2021 with black magnifying glass looking over the word August.

A look at the transport industry in August

Earlier this month the Department for Transport announced the winners of a £2.5m research and development competition to accelerate the use of hydrogen transport in the Tees Valley. The trials will help better understand the role hydrogen has in meeting 2050 net zero ambitions, and will see diesel buses retrofitted with hydrogen fuel cells, supermarket chains benefitting from hydrogen delivery vans and the police and NHS using hydrogen vehicles for rapid response services.

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 transort
Buses
Rail
E-mobility
Electric Vehicles
E-scooters
E-bikes
Aviation
Air Quality
Diversity


Active travel

  • On 5thAugust we celebrated Cycle to Work Day, the UK’s biggest cycling commuting event, designed to encourage us to cycle to work, whether new to cycle commuting or experienced. It’s estimated 5.2m car trips could be saved over a year thanks to projects such as this.
  • New changes have been announced to the Highway Code that will give pedestrians and cyclists greater priority over cars at junctions and crossings. The changes, which are due to published in the autumn, will affect England, Scotland and Wales. 
  • Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced a 30% increase to the £257m active travel package announced in last year’s spending review. The new £338m package to boost walking and cycling will include funding to build hundreds of miles of high-quality cycle lanes and delivery walking schemes.
  • The London Borough of Sutton’s Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee has given the go-ahead for 11 Schools Streets in the borough. The scheme will be introduced in the autumn and will close streets to motor vehicles near these schools for a short time each day during term time when the school opens and closes.
  • £4.8m in grant funding has been secured by Glasgow City Council from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Smarter Choices, Smarter Places and Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes. The Council has confirmed the cycle-related funding will be spent on projects which will expand and enhance the city’s cycling infrastructure.
  • A study funded by the Department for Transport and jointly undertaken by cycling technology and data company, See.Sense, and the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents, shows potential for pre-emptive identification of cyclist collision risk areas. Hundreds of Birmingham-based cyclists travelled tens of thousands of monitored miles and relayed billions of lines of data relating to their riding environment and activity. This has enabled researchers to form an accurate picture of locations in the city where riders most frequently experienced ‘near miss’ incidents that didn’t result in accidents and therefore weren’t usually reported to the police. 
  • An independent nationwide survey, commissioned by cycling insurer, Laka, has revealed safety is the biggest barrier to women cycling:
    • Data reveals over 41% of women in the UK state safety concerns and vulnerability of cycling alone as their main worries.
    • 45% stated well-lit walk and cycle lanes would encourage them to use alternative sustainable transport such as bikes, cargo bikes and e-bikes.
  • Traffic lights across Hertfordshire are set to be upgraded, making them more pedestrian and cyclist friendly. A £250,000 grant from the Department for Transport will allow existing lights to be replaced with newer systems that are more energy efficient and intelligently controlled to reduce queuing, and support safe, reliable and sustainable travel.

Public Transport

  • Public transport across the UK will be adapted to make it more accessible for disabled passengers:
    • The Department for Transport will bring forward new regulations to force bus companies to provide announcements on services and will offer £3.5m grants to help smaller firms achieve this.
    • It will also work with Network Rail to improve safety, with a new programme to install all station platforms with tactile paving.
    • Legislation covering taxis and private hire vehicles will be introduced to protect disabled passengers from being overcharged.
  • According to new data from money saving app, Snoop, consumer spending across public transport is still 30% below figures seen in 2019. 

Elsewhere in public transport this month:

Buses

  • Scottish Power and Stagecoach have unveiled the UK’s first fleet of six fully electric buses for rural communities. Funding for five of the six buses came from SP Energy Networks’ £20m Green Economy Fund.
  • The Scottish Government is providing almost £6m to help bus and coach operators go green. This will help transport operators meet the standards that will be put in place in Low Emissions Zones (LEZs) which are being introduced in Scotland’s largest cities in 2022.
  • The Scottish Government has announced the first £50m phase of a new Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund, designed to encourage the market to implement new and innovative ways to finance and deploy zero emission buses.
  • Environmental, engineering and strategic consulting company, Ricardo, has received government funding to create a retrofit hydrogen fuel cell bus. The funding was secured through the Hydrogen Transport Hub Demonstration competition and the retrofit will be developed to fit into any make or model of double-deck bus.
  • Harrogate Bus Company has completed trials of the first ever all-electric bus with zero emission technology in the UK. It follows a bid made with North Yorkshire County Council, requesting nearly £20m of government money to help replace their entire fleet.

Rail

  • The first meeting of a panel set up to improve the accessibility of rail journeys for everyone on the Southeastern network took place earlier this month. The panel was chaired by former Paralympian, Andy Barrow, and aims to improve the safety and comfort of everyone travelling on the Southeastern network.
  • Engineering consultancy, Atkins, has been appointed by the Department for Transport to carry out an accessibility audit of all UK rail stations as part of a government programme to boost inclusivity across the transportation network.
  • The Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road have launched a Better Value Rail Toolkit, an online space those sponsoring rail projects and their advisors can use to help make the right decisions early on. Ministers and rail industry leaders say the new toolkit will help deliver projects more quickly, save money and make sure rail is the best fit for any given project.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway has trained almost 3,000 customer-facing colleagues from Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express in ways to improve the service they give disabled and older passengers. Sessions explored the barriers customers face, how to offer assistance and how to communicate effectively.
  • The rail industry has launched a national campaign across Britain, in partnership with charity, Crimestoppers, and British Transport Police, to tackle sexual harassment by ensuring people understand what constitutes such behaviour. The campaign will also inform people of the actions they can take to report sexual harassment if they witness it, and thereby help to combat it.
  • No traces of coronavirus were found in tests at four major railway stations and on Intercity train services, Network Rail has said. Places passengers regularly touch, such as escalator handles, ticket machines and benches were swabbed, while hour-long air samples were taken. Two rounds of testing were carried out at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly stations in January and June.

E-mobility

Electric vehicles

  • New research from Kwik Fit reveals the number of drivers expecting their next car to be fully electric has risen by 32% in 12 months. The study shows 11% of drivers who are planning to change their car expect its replacement to be fully electric.
  • The Scottish National Investment Bank has invested £2m into EV infrastructure firm, Forev, to support its aim to create over 1,700 vehicle charging points across Scotland. Forev claims they want to focus on much needed ‘destination’ charging points to allow drivers to charge their vehicles away from home.
  • Official statistics published earlier this month by the Department for Transport and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles show as of 1stJuly 2021:
    • There were 24,374 public electric vehicle charging devices available in the UK
    • Of the total devices available, 4,551 were rapid chargers
  • Stats also showed in the second quarter of 2021 (April to June):
    • Available devices increased by 1,584 up 7% on the previous quarter
    • Rapid devices increased by 292, an increase of almost 7% on the previous quarter
    • There was a growth of both total and rapid devices across all regions over the previous quarter
  • Electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK could become as recognisable as the red post box or black cab. The Royal College of Art has been appointed to deliver an iconic British chargepoint design, which will be unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow this November. 
  • An electric battery with a range similar to internal combustion engines and which can charge in as little as 12 minutes is one of four projects awarded £91m through the Advanced Propulsion Centre Collaborative Research and Development competition, which supports development of innovative low carbon automotive technology.
  • Stonehaven based energy company, Trojan Energy, has come up with a way of building almost invisible vehicle charging infrastructure. Its flat and flush network installation points are sunk into the ground along kerbsides, where car owners can insert their own personal lance to connect to the underground grid. 
  • The West Midlands has overtaken London as the region with the fastest-growing network of electric car chargers. The number of chargers rose by a fifth between April and July, according to data from EV chargepoint location app, Zap-Map, and the Department for Transport.
  • A trial will be running in Hackney from September 2021 until May 2022 of 30 public on-street smart chargers. Residents will be able to schedule their EV charging at times when energy prices are cheapest, such as overnight when demand is low or on sunny days when solar energy is abundant.
  • In the city of Nottingham, nine electric taxis will be adorned in a green and blue livery to signify they are part of a new wireless charging electric vehicle trial. The first of its kind in the UK, the trial is being funded by the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles.

E-Scooters

  • An E-Scooter safety campaign has been launched in Slough for the school holidays. The campaign aims to remind users how to ride safely.
  • The City of Westminster joined the Transport for London E-Scooter rental trial scheme on 2ndAugust for a period of 10 months, with an option to extend the trial for up to 6 months.
  • Following a public consultation, Camden Council has agreed to join the Transport for London E-scooter rental trial. 

E-bikes

  • The Department for Transport and Energy Saving Trust have launched a new £400,000 funding round to help small businesses invest in electric cargo bikes. The grant will give businesses an opportunity to introduce e-cargo bikes into their everyday transport operations and will cover up to 40% of the total cost.
  • A joint bid by Bradford Council, Leeds Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority to the Department for Transport and Energy Savings Trust has been successful and will see funding awarded for 32 e-cargo bikes in the area. 
  • An e-bike hire scheme is set to arrive in Aberystwyth by September. The Sustrans pilot scheme will see eight e-cargo bikes arrive as part of the new bike hiring imitative offering low-cost hire and long-term loan of e-bikes to residents.

Aviation

  • The first hybrid electric aircraft flights in Scotland have taken place from Kirkwall on Orkney to John O’Groats Airport on the mainland. They are part of the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment project, led by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, and are the first to operate on a viable regional airline route. Electric aircraft developer, Ampaire, used their electric EEL technology demonstrator, a modified six seat Cessna 337 aircraft that runs on battery power and a conventional combustion engine, for the flight.

Air Quality

  • A poll by research company, Survation, shows more than half of Londoners now receive one online delivery a week, more than a fifth get several deliveries a week, and nearly 1 in 10 get at least one a day. This rising online delivery demand is leading to an increase for demand in freight, servicing and deliveries traffic which is contributing to poorer air quality, higher carbon emissions and increased congestion. The poll shows people are prepared to accept slower delivery times if they reduce carbon emissions (59%), reduce congestion (57%) and reduce local air pollution (58%).
  • A new report produced by Harrogate Borough Council shows air quality across the Harrogate district has improved. Monitoring results have been improving for a number of years, however this is the first year all four air quality management areas in the district have reduced to below the nitrogen dioxide national air quality objectives set by the government.
  • Royal Mail has announced plans to trial new tyres designed to reduce pollution. In a bid to tackle air pollution from tyre dust, Royal Mail is collaborating with Transport for London and sustainable tyre manufacturer, ENSO, to trial new tyres which claim to produce less particulate matter pollution than normal tyres. 

Diversity

  • A maternity pay campaigner and customer champion who works at Brighton & Hove Buses has won a national award for her work to promote women’s rights in the workplace. Paula Jones, City Centre Supervisor, won the Customer/Passenger Above & Beyond category in the 2021 Every Women in Transport and Logistics awards. She was influential in changing Brighton & Hove and Metrobus’s maternity leave policy after sharing her own experience with company directors. 
  • According to research from business management consultancy, New Street Consulting Group, women working as executive directors at UK FTSE 100 companies are being paid 40% less a year, on average. Female executive directors are typically being paid £1.5m, while their male counterparts are taking home £2.5m on average. 
  • Engineering consulting firm, WSP, has committed to playing a key role in levelling up the UK by partnering with the Purpose Coalition (made up of some of the UK’s most innovative leaders and organisations) on the development of a set of levelling up goals. The ultimate aim is to drive equality of opportunity in the UK at key life stages, from early years through to adulthood, alongside addressing other barriers such as access to healthcare and fair career progression.

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.