2040 will be a “pivotal year for transport” – ITS (UK) session hears

A group of transport experts have told a session at the industry event Highways UK the transport industry needs to start making changes now for a Net Zero future, with 2040 a key date for when transport will be unrecognisable compared to where it is now.

The ITS (UK)-run session heard from Bob Meekums of Mott MacDonald and Tom Grahamslaw of WSP, alongside ITS (UK)’s Carbon Ambassador Keith McCabe.  Tom Grahamslaw told the group that his thoughts on the future break into three key areas – the more efficient use of existing transport systems, modal shift and zero emission vehicles. 

“The pandemic is a prime example of how we’ve shifted our approach to transport,” he said. “A lot of people aren’t commuting anymore, a lot more people are working from home. So there’s that context to sit with this as well as future trends around technology and, and societal shift and making more efficient use for it from an ITS perspective.

“We’re getting more messages to drivers through in-vehicle systems. We’re starting to see early opportunities around automation be that also autonomous emergency braking, and we’re starting to see vehicle manufacturers testing that capability that they have in in autonomous vehicle terms. That trend will accelerate, those capabilities will accelerate and in the future It’s likely that Connected and Autonomous Vehicles will become a fundamental part of our transport system.”  He commented that 2040 will be the year this transition is likely to have been largely completed.

Bob Meekums talked about changing the culture of travel and consumer behaviour.  “We need a better understanding of what we’re trying to move,” he said.  “So people and goods – whether that be livestock food, different products.  Do we need to import all these goods, out of season vegetables and fruit? Should we be thinking as a society, we need to change the way we look at things, and the way we behave?

“When it comes to Incident Management –  can we do that better? Can we give people more information about the fact that there is an incident or network, and they shouldn’t be travelling? Now, they should be travelling later, or they should change their route or change their mode.”

“It’s our responsibility to make sure it all works,” commented Keith McCabe. “So I think we’re going to have to give more thought to the resilience issue. But also, we’ve got to not look at the commitment to a date, upwards of 50 years in the future, but actually start to be practical about, what do we do now?”

The session also included the audience giving its views on the most important issues to address in the next decade. A wordmap is below.

(Picture L-R Keith McCabe, Bob Meekums, Tom Grahamslaw, Jennie Martin courtesy ITS (UK))
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