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DfT Future of Mobility Report Review

CoMoUK Review Of DfT Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy

The Department for Transport has released their ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy’.  CoMoUK welcomes the publication of the 78-page paper which makes for positive reading for advocates of a more efficient, cleaner and less impactful urban transport system.

 

Mobility not modes

 

The report denotes a change in language and intent: the emphasis throughout is on mobility rather than transport. Mobility is our ability to access goods and services over space and time, transport is the mode which takes us there. The emphasis is therefore on accessing said goods or services, not on the relative performance of the mode in question. The strategy rightly cites the danger of a siloed and fragmented marketplace as a threat to delivering optimum mobility services.

 

Guiding Principles

 

There is a recognition that the moment of opportunity has comes with the advances in vehicular technology, data science, mobile technology and artificial intelligence. However, these advances alone won’t deliver the urban transport system that reduces congestion, improves air quality and makes our cities liveable for years to come. On this, the strategy will be underpinned by nine principles which will facilitate the innovation in urban mobility for freight, passengers and other services. We consider this principle-based approach a very positive step for the provision and delivery of urban transport. The DfT Principles are inspired by Robin Chase’s well-known ‘Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities’  in North America and have been interpreted into a set of well-constructed useful framework for transport planning in the UK.

The strategy has recognised the moment of opportunity that comes with the advances in vehicular technology, data science, mobile technology and artificial intelligence. However, this alone won’t deliver the urban transport system that reduces congestion, improves air quality and makes our cities liveable for years to come.

 

Micro-mobility

 

Getting into more detail on the nuts and bolts of the strategy makes for positive reading. The first of these is the regulatory review into micro-mobility modes. With advances in mobile phone and battery technology, a suite of new modes and operations have come to market. However, our current vehicular and licensing legislation is not-fit-for-purpose. The regulatory review will encompass micro-mobility modes, Mobility as a Service, transport data, bus and taxi licensing.

CoMoUK hopes this serves to legalise micro-modes such as E-Scooters, but only in ways that create the tools for local transport authorities to manage and regulate them. One of benefits of the CoMoUK accreditation is that, in the absence of formal regulatory tools to manage shared modes it has provided a voluntary framework for minimum standards for operators. The accreditation schemes could provide the basis for future regulatory framework which would allow government in their efforts to manage and regulate these new modes plans to build-in flexibility in to the framework and we will be making this point in our formal response to the DFT strategy.

 

Spreading the benefits to all

 

As the strategy recognises, there is an opportunity to drastically improve our urban transport systems. The gains could be great. To this end, we want and need the mobility providers who want to innovate and change the way we move for the better. The government wants to harness this innovation by incentivising cleaner, safer and more efficient modes. Importantly the strategy has underlined the importance in creating an environment where new mobility providers can flourish and prosper. This is reflected in the second principle which refers to the need for the benefits of technological gains to be realised by all segments of society across all parts of the country.

 

Turning principles into reality

 

The strategy is light on funding for initiating the transition to more sustainable modes, particularly walking and cycling which is key for these short urban trips which make up a significant proportion of journeys in our cities. The strategy points to the 45% of urban trips which are under two miles. Principle 3 (promoting walking and cycling for short local trips) will need to be underpinned by financial commitment from central government to ensure active travel has the best chance of being the go-to mode for short urban trips. The strategy makes little reference to the use of punitive measures or controls to curb private car use. We welcome, however, that it points to the alternatives to private car use such as car clubs or lift-sharing.

The ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy’ sets forth a framework for delivering the urban transport system that is definitely needed and welcome. Our journeys of the future could be faster, cleaner, safer and more affordable, bringing benefits to both individual journeys and society at large. We agree with the strategy that in the future we should continue and increase to use our mass transit networks. To do this, and as the strategy rightly says, it makes sense to move away from the ownership model of transport, a system which drives inefficiency, and transition to the usage model of mobility instead.

CoMoUK looks forward to seeing the DfT vision for the Future of Mobility become a reality and will continue to support shared mobility development as a key linchpin. If after reading this review you have any questions or would like further comment from CoMoUK please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us through info@como.org.uk

Department for Transport Principles