ITS experts look to post-Covid future

More choice over transport modes and payment, the end of the morning and afternoon peaks and people enjoying travelling again could be the benefits of changes due to the Coronavirus crisis. Watch it here.

The final ITS (UK) webinar on the subject – for now – brought together three previous panellists to reflect on how things have changed over the past four months and the long-term effects.

“I think the biggest bonus is possibly the impact on emissions and emission levels, which we’ve seen during this period,” said former Transport Direct CEO Nick Illsley. In 2012 [at the Olympics in London], we saw what could be done with travel demand management and then threw it all away. So I would like to see us look at what works in environmental terms, how we measure including things like low cost sensors, and how we can actually make proper reductions – on a day to day basis, not in a lockdown basis.”

“I would definitely say that if there is such a thing as a winner from this pandemic, that data is definitely it,” added Innovate UK’s Karla Jakeman. “And in that we can use it to see how people have travelled, where people have travelled, when they’ve travelled to make sure that policy was correct, to help shape policy and to really help us understand the impact of different policies and whether people are socially distancing and what will trigger different behaviour patterns.”

“We want to lock in the increase in active travel,” suggested Jennie Martin, ITS (UK)’s Secretary General. “The latest cycling boom, which I would describe the last 10 years is nothing at all comparable to the Netherlands or Denmark, which are the comparisons usually quoted. The demographic of cycling here as a rule is very, very narrow, very male, very professional and very much in the 30s. What we’ve seen over these last few months is something a lot more like Denmark or the Netherlands where a wide demographic cycles, which actually makes it a lot more pleasant for a lot of people. So we want to lock that in as well. The role of transport technology is to enable this and to support it.”

The panellists also discussed how social distancing rules may change affecting public transport usage but that home working is probably here to stay meaning big changes to commutes and season tickets. They also considered the solutions technology has delivered in the crisis and keeping Intellectual Property within the country.

The webinar finished with a discussion on the good points we can take from this crisis with host Paul Hutton suggesting that, having been at home for the majority of the year, when they do travel again they may appreciate and enjoy it because they will be travelling for a good reason – there may even be some smiles on commuter trains, he suggested.

Picture, clockwise from top left, Paul Hutton, Jennie Martin, Nick Illsley, Karla Jakeman.


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