Transport and Mobility for the future
When we look at our transport systems, we need to think afresh, start from the problems of the current system and redesign from the ground up. This is a time for innovation, not iterative design.
This is been on my mind for a long time now. Our transport systems are simply not fit for purpose, across the entire country not just within the city. Some of the issues I can highlight (I am sure there are many more)
- There are few incentives to use public transport over personal vehicles
- Trains are ridiculously expensive, when compared to the continent (where they are punctual, comfortable and affordable) On the day prices for transport are extortionate, again, by comparison, prices on the continent are broadly static, or at very least fairly priced for non-booked tickets.
- Busses from rural areas are sparse and often last commuter services out of the city finish at 6pm, and generally oversubscribed, further encouraging commute by car.
- By road, at peak times it can take an hour or more to cross the city
- Busses have set routes, which can't accommodate all needs, they cannot for instance take you from your house to B&Q to pick up home renovation supplies, nor offer a door to door service with your weekly supermarket shop for a family of 4 so a car is essential (bearing in mind they are on the outskirts of residential zones, or the whole city)
- New housing developments are NOT designed for personal vehicles and certainly not designed for both cars and access for emergency services. The new estates around the city are designed with narrow, windy roads, no parking facilities, no driveways and so cars are double parked, i'd be surprised if a fire engine could get through many of the more densely populated housing estates. Surely we learnt something from the Great fire of London about proximity of buildings?
- Public transport is often more expensive than driving (bearing in mind for the other reasons, many will need a car anyway)
- Parking in the city centre again is extortionate - understand that the aim is to keep cars out of the city, but the other services need to be able to support the needs of citizens still if trhe city centre is to ever go Car Free or Car Light.
- Personal electric vehicles are not allowed on roads.
- Bear in mind that electric bikes are of course legal, but are limited to their power output at 250 watts and limited by speed. Which means the powered assistance they can give is limited, and lead to frustrations for drivers sharing the same roads (i am both a driver and an electric bike owner)
- There are limited secure locations to lock up bikes within the city and around the high street where you could be confident your bike, or parts of it wouldn't be stolen. You just need to look at the number of front wheels or frames left padlocked to bike racks.
So while I think it's brilliant that we are looking to reduce CO2 within our transport network, we are only ever going to have a limited impact while we continue to only tinker around the edges. The public will not adopt public transport offerings where 1) they are less convenient than the alternatives and 2) they are more expensive than the alternatives.
So what are the potential solutions?
1) Could we work with Government on the legalities of electronic powered transporters?
2) This one is ambitious, but I thought it might be worth sharing.
Why not have a chat with Elon about autonomous vehicles? Heathrow airport has a pod based self driving car solution to ferry passengers from the car parks to the airport.
Instead of ever more complex intertwining bus routes, which can't address the issues mentioned above, why not consider using those bus lanes for semi-autonomous transport, a self driving taxi or uber like hail a ride service. Living in the city, if the transport systems are adequate, then do people really need cars within the city itself? If you can commute by affordable, convenient, comfortable and multi purpose means to the places you need to get to, at the times you need to get there then I imagine many would consider not having a personal vehicle (that takes the cars off the roads to free up space for the semi-autonomous services)
You could price such a system like the London underground or use an oyster like service - or even, just adopt oyster.
To some extent Co Cars is similar to this approach, only there aren't very many stations and they aren't self driving, but the community owned vehicle scheme exists in some fashion at least.
Incentives could be put in place to promote the service over personal ownership, and co-cars like services or other hire schemes could be considered to offer affordable access to rental cars for travel out of the city and out of the area for those using the service. i.e. give up a car and get access to affordable rentals and affordable autonomous transport within the city.
This might then address those barriers to adoption of public transport mentioned above.
Anyway, I'm sure I could go on listing ideas for how this type of service might work, but perhaps ought to let others on the forum have some say too 😉 I'd be interested to read any thoughts or alternatives to these issues.