Getting the right kind of economic growth

Last week, the Transport Knowledge Hub held an event in the South East with key regional stakeholders to explore how transport technology and innovation can help the region make more sustainable and inclusive transport investments.

There is no doubt that harnessing new technology and embracing disruptive change to deliver better outcomes for society is vital. We were reminded that transport represents 14% of consumer spending, second only to housing, and that transport is linked to every one of our daily lives. That’s why getting the right kind of economic growth is so important.

At our south east event we heard a few examples of transformative change. We heard from Tim Smith, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP how a new Amazon warehouse in Berkshire had provided vital local jobs and responded to demand from consumers. However, it has also added to congestion in the area, and the deliveries are being made by diesel vans. We need a more integrated approach to transport and logistics, and it was fantastic to hear how Go Ahead are talking to Amazon about utilising spare capacity on buses to help deliver Amazon packages. The “final mile” conundrum of responding to customer demand whilst utilising green buses to deliver products must be part of the solution. We also heard how Amazon lockers at train and bus stations and at city centre locations can also help give consumers what they want without adding to pollution and congestion.

I also want to say a big thank you to the Transport Systems Catapult for hosting our event. If you haven’t visited the Transport Systems Catapult ‘living laboratory’ in Milton Keynes, I would encourage you to go and see their work in person. The Catapult is commercialising the amazing research and innovation generated by our world-class universities into market-ready solutions. Their focus on autonomous vehicles, for example, is exactly the sort of investment we need to make our streets greener. We heard how autonomous and connected vehicles can be complementary, not competitors, to public transport and if we embrace the right technology, we will provide sustainable transport options for our communities for the future.

Image: othree

About the Author

This post was written by Claire Haigh. Claire is Chief Executive of Greener Journeys

Claire Haigh

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The Transport Knowledge Hub comes at a vital time for our transport networks. As our population continues to grow and our roads become more congested, public transport has an increasingly important role to play in keeping our country moving. Investment in local transport infrastructure, such as rail networks and bus services, can have a huge impact on development and economic growth in local areas, so I’m delighted that the Hub will provide the guidance and expertise local decision makers need to make effective investments.

Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail

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