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Department for Transport launches future of urban mobility plan

Future of Mobility minister Jesse Norman launches “biggest review into transport in a generation”

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published its strategy for the future of urban mobility, including priorities for 2019, the launch of a regulatory review and a £90m transport innovation fund.

Billed as the “biggest review into transport in a generation”, the plan sets out an approach to seize the opportunities – underpinned by principles including data sharing – presented by new services as a means to improve choice and operation of the transport system.

The strategy lists a range of benefits that could be gained from mobility technologies around making transport safer and more affordable, and available and accessible to all.

Sharing and harnessing information is one of the key areas of priority to be tackled by the mobility strategy in 2019, through the creation of standards and platforms that make it easier to access and use transport data.

Priorities for this year also include fostering experimentation and trials, with the the launch of up to four Future Mobility Zones across the UK and £90m of funding for ideas on how to improve transport infrastructure in UK cities and towns.

The strategy also includes continued funding for the research and development of low-carbon technologies in the automotive industry, supporting local areas to implement urban mobility strategies and publishing guidance on the design and allocation of urban space to support decisions around new mobility services.

In addition, the strategy will prioritise the implementation of a flexible regulatory framework, with a review around how to trial micro-mobility vehicles, mobility-as-a-service, transport data and the modernisation of legislation around buses, taxis and private hire vehicles.

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Such legislation will be added to existing programmes to regulate other areas of mobility, such as drones and future flight, self-driving and zero emission vehicles, and maritime autonomy.

While the DfT considers the principles as key to defining its vision for innovation in transport, it recognises “there may be tension, even potential conflict” between the areas set out in the approach (see principles below), because of the multiple goals and constraints within transport policy.

Adapting to the rate of technological development and consumer adoption is another area of concern mentioned in the strategy. Given that uncertainty, the department conceded that it would need to adapt and adopt future thinking in its decision-making processes, with continued analysis and research around new technologies and their impact.

“As a country, our approach to these technologies will need to adapt over the coming decades. The government will need to gather and respond to evidence of the impacts of new mobility technologies and services as they emerge,” Future of Mobility minister Jesse Norman said in the report.

The government will also need to look into the future of rural mobility in due course, the minister said, so benefits of transport innovation can help citizens nationwide.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity here – to put this country at the heart of the next mobility revolution, and deliver a cleaner, greener, more productive and more inclusive country for future generations,” he added.

The principles underpinning the government's mobility strategy

  • New transport options and mobility services must be safe and secure by design.
  • Benefits of mobility innovation must be applicable to all UK citizens.
  • Transport involving physical activity such as walking and cycling must remain the best options for short urban journeys.
  • Mass transit must remain fundamental to an efficient transport system.
  • New mobility services must lead the transition to zero emissions.
  • Reduced congestion should be one of the outcomes of new mobility services through approaches such as sharing rides and consolidating freight.
  • Stimulating innovation and providing the best deal to consumers should be priorities of the marketplace for mobility.
  • Operation as part of an integrated transport system combining public, private and multiple modes must be core to the design of new mobility services.
  • Data from new mobility services must be shared where appropriate to improve choice and the operation of the transport system.

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