Accommodating growth and ensuring that regional and urban economies have the right transport connectivity to drive economic growth. These were the key themes of the 12th Annual Transport Practitioners Meeting (TPM), held in London on 2nd and 3rd July.
Keynote speakers included Isabel Dedring, the Deputy Mayor for Transport in London; Louise Ellman, Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee; Stephen Joseph Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, and David Quarmby FCILT, former Chairman of the RAC Foundation.
To a packed audience of more than 140 delegates, each speaker set out different perspectives on the big policy issues that need to be addressed and underpinned by good transport infrastructure and networks. They also demonstrated the importance of having a transport system that was responsive and accessible to users and which helped create a sustainable ‘sense of place’.
‘With London’s population set to grow to 10 million by 2030 my team and I will continue to ensure that the city’s transport needs are met and to support social and economic growth.’
In addition to a rich plenary session on both days of the TPM, there were 50 seminar sessions on both days covering a wide range of topics that delegates could choose from. These were divided into three themes including ‘Active travel and growth’; ‘Time in Transit’; ‘Smarter travel’; and ‘Modelling the future’.
The main discussion agenda was set out at the plenary sessions. Isabel Dedring set out London’s transport vision which includes greater investment in cycling and walking to incentivise people away from their cars and to create a better ‘sense of place’. She also outlined how London is developing new transport infrastructure that both drives and reflects economic growth, regeneration and connectivity. She cited the Nine Elms and Old Oak Common areas, as well as the potential for Crossrail 2.
The linkage between good transport networks and economic growth was also made by Dr Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport. He argued that policy should be targeted in four main areas to achieve economic growth:
· Better journey planning;
· Improved transport planning that builds in ‘door to door’ journeys
· More provision for cycling
· Stronger linkage between transport provision and land-usage
While he felt there should be a stronger emphasis on technology – with policy based on the use of ‘big data’ and published/available information – Stephen felt the real obstacle to improved transport planning lay in “the 3 Us”:
· Uncoordinated – too many agencies involved in transport planning
· Underfunding – valued bus services and essential highway maintenance under threat from spending cuts
· Underpowered – that too many local/regional authorities lack the powers and clout to shape or fund local transport improvements.
He argued that the UK should adopt the German model of ‘combined authorities’ to improve transport governance, as this was more likely to ensure that funding was ring-fenced for buses and local public transport schemes.
Louise Ellman warned that transport and spatial planning was insufficiently coordinated and that some Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) lacked the lobbying clout in to bid for investment funding that large cities have.
She argued that regional cities away from London needed a fairer share of investment in order to develop some of the social and economic benefits that investment in London’s network had created.
She called for a “major rethink” of current bus regulation in order to maximise the effectiveness of the network and to incentivise intermodal working. She also bemoaned how buses, the most widely used form of public transport in Britain, attracted very little national attention. Finally, she argued for more accessible transport and a network that is better able to meet the needs of an ageing population as well as for those with some kind of disability, now estimated to number more than 11 million people.
David Quarmby FCILT felt that transport planning needed to re-capture the street. He argued that welcome investment in rail was not matched by similar commitments to our streets which account for 80% of public space. He set out five areas that transport planning needed to address:
· Proper planning and investment in long-lasting transport infrastructure that accounts for growth
· More efficient use of available road-space
· Intelligent technology and systems
· Account taken of changing societal behaviours and demographics
· Increased but more sustainable transport capacity
He argued this would require a vision to create better planned, more efficient and more sustainable transport choices that help deliver economic growth, rebalance the national economy and increase connectivity on a local and national basis.
Commenting on this year’s event, Daniel Parker-Klein, PTRC Director said: “TPM 2014 pursued a clear agenda with a focus on attracting outstanding keynote speakers on issues of national policy importance and multi streamed sessions. It demonstrates how key policy instruments can be turned into solutions that solve long-term issues”.