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News & opinion

Read the latest news from across the whole sector that highlights the development of affordable, accessible and low-carbon shared mobility

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News - 15 Jan 2020

Forty Shades of Rural

Read Richard Dilks latest Local Transport Today article.

Forty Shades of Rural


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News - 19 Dec 2019

ShareNow withdraws from London & many global cities

CoMoUK is saddened by the news of Share Now's withdrawal from a number of global cities including London. London does have a relatively complicated structure for car clubs, yet it remains very much open for business for shared mobility - with now nearly half a million car club members in the city. With measures such as the planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in the future, there are strong further opportunities for car clubs to help more Londoners not own cars, drive less and use public transport and active travel more. Share Now customers will be contacted and given CoMoUK's details so they can be made aware of other providers in the market and hopefully continue their use of car sharing.  

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News - 21 Oct 2019

Shared Mobility – from “nice to know” to “need to have”

It is almost a month since the launch of the Commission on Travel Demand’s report on Shared Mobility: where now? Where next? This blog is an opportunity to take stock and ask not just where next but how to get there. The report painted a very clear picture about the carbon, congestion, inclusion, investment and indeed health benefits of greater sharing. Whilst it brought together data from across government, academia and industry, these statements on the positive benefits of sharing are not new. What was different was their placement against the demands of a Net Zero carbon future. Greater sharing is a technologically, socially and financially credible approach to rapidly decarbonising, alongside electrification. So, why is it still at the margins of policy and what needs to change for shared mobility to be at the forefront rather than the margins? First, there needs to be a recognition that nowhere in the UK has a credible transport strategy which is consistent with Net Zero. Not just the end goal of Net Zero but the carbon reduction pathway necessary every year en-route. Research by colleagues shows that even a Norway style take up of EVs does not get us close to our targets and that a MAJOR shift in how we travel has to be part of any pathway that gets us anyway close. I fear we will be waiting a year or two for the numbers to be run in local and national governments to show that there is no deliverable ‘electrification only’ strategy. We can’t rely on nudge either, the scale of behavioural change is not a nudge but something more fundamental. So, policy honesty is a necessary pre-condition to opening up the need for a substantially more ambitious shared mobility future. Second, the transport profession needs to do more to place the car in a mobility ecosystem. We should all advocate as strongly as we can for low carbon mass-transit, walk and cycle options. However, if we ignore the different challenges and needs or peri-urban and rural areas then we simply will not be providing a system which works for everyone. Shared cars, delivered through a range of business models, need to be part of the solution to decarbonise quickly. Without the work of CoMoUK and its predecessor organisations the evidence cupboard would be pretty bare. As such, the report recommends that the Department for Transport works directly with CoMoUK to develop a neutral repository for data and evaluation of new innovations such that there is a robust and trusted evidence base from which to justify policy change. The Commission made twenty recommendations to different national government departments, local government and industry players. They include ensuring that the potential for shared mobility to deliver carbon savings is given due consideration by the Committee on Climate Change and rethinking how research on sharing is done and how demonstrations and trials are funded, again areas which I would expect CoMoUK and member organisations to lead on. However, the recommendations are also action oriented as well as process focussed. In particular we identify a major opportunity with public fleets and procurement and for a change in approach by Highways England which currently focuses on vehicles per hour rather than people per hour. A rapid shift to supporting a motorway network which facilitates sharing and integration into local transport networks could be brought about if it is taken to be important. Twenty recommendations seems a lot and I would be surprised if they all prove to be implementable. Nonetheless, they represent a serious attempt to take an integrated overview of what needs to change to increase the amount of sharing from today’s levels. I’m looking forward to discussions at the CoMoUK Collaborative Mobility Conference in Birmingham in November to continue to push this ambitious, inclusive and low carbon agenda forward.
About the author: Greg Marsden is a Professor of Transport Governance at the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds. He is Co-Chair of the Commission on Travel Demand which is funded by the Centre for Energy Demand Reduction Solutions and UKRI. He also leads the DecarboN8 network which takes a place-based approach to accelerating decarbonisation across the North.
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News - 18 Oct 2019

It’s time to move the private car from star billing to supporting part

Richard Dilks, CoMoUK Chief Executive, writes on improving transport efficiency.

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News - 28 Aug 2019

The end of innocence: helping shared mobility find its rightful place

Richard, CoMoUK Chief Executive, writes on how how inclusion of all mobility services is key in LTT.

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News - 19 Jun 2019

Our Chief Executive’s Thoughts After His First Month

As I reach the nano-milestone of my first month in the job, it’s a moment to pause and reflect. I said on taking up the role that it was an honour to do so, and this month has only solidified my view on that. Well-designed and executed shared mobility already has had huge positive impacts, and there is so much potential to go further. To be able to help CoMoUK take that forward across its research, advocacy, guidance, accreditation and practice is a great privilege. I’ve found within CoMoUK a team of highly talented people doing a huge amount on slender resources. They’re a genuine pleasure to work with and are at the cutting edge of shared mobility thought and practice. My priorities are to help CoMoUK grow sustainably; to build its profile, including in London where I am based; to continue and deepen its evidence base; to roll up our sleeves on ideas that bring shared modes together through our Share North work on mobility hubs; and to help it bridge into those areas that so entwine with shared mobility, but are often disconnected in terms of policymakers’ approaches. I am thinking here of health; urban design; public transport. One time where you should feel all this coming together is our conference in Birmingham in November – the programme for which is shaping up very excitingly. After all, you’re only 20 once. I think the challenges and opportunities apparent in 1999 are mostly still with us – it’s just that a lot of them are more acute. We better understand now what we are doing to our climate and to the air, particularly in our cities and towns. We have more people than ever in those cities and towns. But we do also have the technologies to help us with these issues, and increasingly we have the public sector and private market procuring, commissioning and delivering shared mobilities that hold part of the answer of how we are going to get more people into urban areas while making them more pleasant, sustainable places to live and how we are going to provide mobility in rural areas when the costs and physical requirements of private car ownership and use do not stack up for everyone or for the rural environment itself. I believe we partly all have CoMoUK to thank for that and here’s to the next 20.
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News - 20 May 2019

CoMoUK New Chief Executive Announced

Richard Dilks delighted to be taking the helm at CoMoUK
  Richard Dilks’ passion for what transport does for people has brought him to CoMoUK as their new Chief Executive. Richard was previously transport programme director at the business group London First, where he led policy and advocacy across a wide range of transport modes. Prior to that he worked as a policy adviser and journalist at the consumer body Which?. On taking the role at CoMoUK Richard says “It is a huge honour to become CoMoUK’s Chief Executive at this momentous time for shared mobility. The opportunities for it to deliver the journeys people want in a more efficient and healthy way than is possible with private car-based transport are real and happening right now, and yet also have so much potential for growth.” Climate change and air quality are key issues for our time. Richard believes that shared use of cars and bikes can still play a critical role in tackling these. “Bike and car share can make a real contribution here. How can shared mobility become more like one ecosystem, working in concert with public transport?” These are the questions CoMoUK seeks to resolve as it celebrates its 20th birthday and looks to the future. Richard will be CoMoUK’s first London based appointment and his plan is to raise the charity’s profile and stakeholder relations in London while building on its successful track record nationally. Antonia Roberts will revert to her position as Deputy Chief Executive based in Leeds. In the next 20 years CoMoUK forecasts that private car ownership will increasingly be a thing of the past, people being much more able to choose the mode of transport that works for them, for that journey – to their benefit, places’ benefit and the environment’s benefit.
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articles - 5 Apr 2019

DfT Future of Mobility Report Review

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

 
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