UMP calls for support for the sustainable transport sector

UMP asks MPs to support the future of the sustainable transport sector

UMP has made a submission to the Transport Select Committee calling for the sustainable transport to remain a policy priority for the government and highlighting support needed to ensure the viability of the sector. 

Background

The Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the sustainable travel sector. Although the sector was growing across the UK, since the Covid-19 lockdown has been introduced, many operators have seen very significant falls in revenue. The industry relies on the revenue from consumer journeys and the fall in the amount of consumer travel has, unsurprisingly, impacted the sector. This could have a significant effect on the ability of the sustainable mobility sector to grow and support national policy objectives to secure long-term reductions in congestion and air quality improvements.

It is essential that the sector is given the support it needs to survive, be available to consumers and continue to drive air quality and congestion improvements as the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis progresses. The priority for government and industry must be to ensure that innovation in the transport sector continues to be at the forefront policies during and as we recover from the Covid-19 crisis. Innovation is a crucial part of reaching our country’s sustainability goals and, while progress has been made in recent years, Covid-19 cannot stall momentum in achieving goals of reduced private car usage and increased shared mobility solutions.

Sector support

We propose the following measures are implemented to safeguard the future of the sustainable mobility sector:

1. Sustainable transport recovery forum. In order to support the recovery of the sector, the government should convene a new sustainable travel recovery forum to discuss support measures with the industry and to understand what guidance or interventions may be needed. This forum should be convened as a matter of urgency to ensure the long-term viability of the sector.

2. Continue to incentivise innovation in the sustainable transport sector. While restrictions remain in place, it is important that multi-modal transport continues to develop. This will ensure that the transport sector enables mobility solutions for the public that can best serve public safety as we come through the Covid-19 crisis, as well as supporting a levelling up programme across the UK regions. Supporting the implementation of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions will be an important part of this and UMP recommends that there should be an increased roll out of MaaS pilots, particularly where possible in conjunction with essential workers while Covid-19 restrictions are eased. A MaaS application where people can plan, book and pay for a journey which uses multiple modes of transport all in one place has the potential to significantly improve consumers ability to make the shift to more sustainable journeys. This could also be a crucial element to securing a safe recovery from Covid-19, whilst preventing an increase in private car use.

3. Sustainable transport permit fees. In some locations, car club operators and other sustainable transport operators such a bike hire pay permit fees to local authorities to allow vehicles to be stationed in designated bays or road locations. These fees continue to be payable whether or not the modes are utilised. These charges are effectively the equivalent to business rates and are having a significant impact on the sector at a time when utilisation of vehicles is much reduced. The government should urgently at how it can compensate local authorities for a suspension of these fees during the Covid-19 outbreak. Similarly, for any Penalty Charge Notices levied on vehicles which are stranded due to the outbreak.

4. Operating during recovery period. Although restrictions in the UK remain in place, it is important to anticipate the progressive relaxation of the lockdown and put in place preparations to allow the sustainable travel sector to operate. This includes introducing guidance to allow social distancing, demand management and safe conditions for workers and consumers. Many sustainable transport modes have an important role to play in the recovery process; for example, car club, car rental and bike sharing can support social distancing. Similarly, on demand technology for bus travel and the use of smaller buses can also support the recovery process.

5. Continue long term planning for sustainable transport. In order to continue the momentum behind innovative and forward-thinking mobility systems in urban areas, there is a need for clear, long-term funding decisions to be made to incentivise long-term planning by local areas and city planners. There is also a need for further overarching strategies from government to drive the development of best practice across the UK, to take advantage of the learning opportunities

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