At a time when the government is under pressure over future transport provision – particularly regarding decisions on rail electrification schemes in the north and new runway capacity in south-east England, three leading transport experts set out their contrasting views of what the government should prioritise at the annual Transport Practitioners Meeting. This seminal event in the Transport Planner’s calendar was held in central London and attended by around 250 transport planning experts from across the UK, Europe and further afield.
Philip Gomm of the RAC Foundation, Stephen Joseph of Campaign for Better Transport, and aspiring London Mayoral candidate and transport commentator, Christian Wolmar focused on key themes such as delivering more sustainable transport, increasing devolution to combined transport authorities and local authorities and the importance of maintaining local roads for the majority of journeys. However, each speaker set out different perspectives on the big policy issues they each felt the new government needs to address.
Philip Gomm, Head of External Relations at the RAC Foundation, asserted that the private motor car can be considered a form of public transport and that good roads benefit not just motorists but everyone including cyclists and pedestrians. He called on government to focus on:
1. Road safety measures to address the recent rise in fatalities, especially among young people who account for only 1.5% of motorists but up to 12% of fatalities
2. Better road maintenance with local authorities who look after 97% of the road network given more resources to maintain local roads properly
3. Ensuring the strategic road network remains well-funded to deal with rising demand
4. Addressing the shortage of engineers/technical expertise the country needs for new infrastructure.
By contrast, Stephen Joseph, Executive Director of Campaign for Better Transport, focused on the governance of transport. He called for:
1. More devolution of transport to PTEs and Combined Authorities with creation of proper travel to work areas
2. Integration of transport and planning in a revived national planning framework with more power for local authorities
3. Proper funding for sustainable transport with an active travel fund for more walking and cycling
4. Road demand managed through road pricing including for road freight as well as the private motorist and a review of new roads spending
5. Proper pricing of transport to include simpler fares and more car parking charges to encourage public transport.
Transport commentator, London Mayoral candidate and author Christian Wolmar, also expressed his support for more public and sustainable transport. He argued for:
1. A properly-funded cycling policy with targets for bike usage
2. HS2 to be scrapped but an ‘HS3’ fast rail line to link cities in northern England
3. Restoration of bus regulation in towns and cities outside London
4. Revitalisation of the 20 tram schemes across the UK to “provide strong emblematic local transport connectivity”
5. Transport spend maintained in London to keep the capital moving, with benefits for the rest of the country.
In addition to the plenary session of key experts, there were 50 seminar sessions on both days covering a wide range of topics. These included: “Getting schemes funded”; “Emerging engagement methods”; “Cycling:design and delivery”; “Planning for our future selves”; and “Behavioural change methods”.
TPM attracted more than 250 delegates representing local authorities, transport bodies, planning consultancies and universities.
Commenting on this year’s event, Daniel Parker-Klein, PTRC Director, said: “TPM 2015 was a great success. PTRC’s team has worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure the conference continues to stand alone as the key event for those working in transport to share fresh ideas, enabling delegates to leave re-energised and informed to meet the many challenges the profession will face over the coming year. A delegate’s tweet summed it up perfectly –“2 days of fascinating, thought-provoking talks and stimulating networking at #TPM2015 - fresh ideas & strong enthusiasm”.
TPM was held at London Metropolitan University with a prestigious awards and networking dinner held at London Metropolitan Great Hall. Further details award winners can be found here – https://www.ptrc-training.co.uk/Events/TPM2015.aspx