Lessons for Resilience
Consider the priorities of local governments for public transport recovery and renewal
Use of public transport can “reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and public health”. The Local Government Association (LGA) UK note that COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing challenges in the decline of the bus industry and recommend that recovery should employ “council’s and central government’s funding, infrastructure and traffic powers to work in partnership with public transport providers”. A study by the LGA aimed to understand local authority (LA) recovery priorities for local transport provision, what can accelerate these priorities, what challenges have prevented these priorities from being successfully implemented previously and what reforms are required for recovery and renewal. Consider the themes for recovery identified by local councils in this study:
‘Deliver Local Authority responsibilities effectively’
- Increase the capabilities of LAs to provide school transport, “socially necessary bus services” and to account for the needs of communities e.g. elderly populations:
- Increase LAs agency on how local funds are spent to improve their ability to address their responsibilities and context specific challenges posed by some operating environments (e.g. rural areas)
‘Make bus services more accessible for commuters’
- Affordable, practical and convenient services are viewed as a new way to “connect new communities, reduce car dependency and congestions, lower carbon emission and fight climate change, improve air quality and health, and tackle social inequalities”. Examples of best practice include:
- More efficient services which reduce travel times and operating costs, renewed branding and increased marketing
- Integrate service networks with other networks such as rail/tram/cycle lanes, and integrate tickets and payment to improve ease of travel across various networks
‘New Approaches to Transport Delivery’
- New challenges caused by the pandemic, pre-existing problems and specific contextual issues (E.g. rural area networks) require innovative solutions, for example:
- “Demand Responsive Transport (DRT)” can support improvements to connect rural and isolated networks and communities, create “flexibility for school transport and be used as model for community led transport schemes” (See Rural and Demand-Led Transport)
- “Total Transport and Mobility as a Service (MaaS)” can support integration of transport network modes, tickets and payments and sectoral transport (e.g. health, education, tourism)
‘Link Public Transport and Development’
- Co-ordinate “land use planning and local public transport planning to build demand, reduce car reliance and ensure people have equitable access to jobs, healthcare and other services”, by:
- Designing “liveable neighbourhoods” that reduce people’s need for non-local travel (increasing local services e.g. through hubs)
‘Contribute to tackling climate change’
- Address negative impacts of transport on the environment by improving bus fleets - replacing older vehicles with low and zero emission vehicles e.g. Coventry All Electric Bus
These themes in this report relate to six case study areas in the UK, with feedback sessions with wider local authorities suggesting that these themes are shared, but their scale and implementation may vary depending on the local context.
Consider targeted infrastructure investment to stimulate recovery.
Infrastructure investment has been found to effectively stimulate economic activity. Project prioritization and methods of financing are two key policy and investment questions, noted by the International Transport Forum (OECD). Consider:
- Projects which deliver jobs, stimulate growth in the short- and medium-term should be prioritised
- Those projects that are already in the pipeline with cleared planning and environmental approval should be the focus
- "Interventions should be Timely, Targeted and Temporary: the IMF's TTT principle"
- Local projects should be accurately estimated and the life-span of projects should be effectively forecasted
- Incentives or stimulus packages should be based on aims to drive "decarbonisation, social equity and resilience"
Consider the impact of COVID-19 on commuter behaviour
Although home-based working has become the norm for a large percentage of the population, many workers have had to be physically present in their usual workplace. Many who have had to travel to workplaces during the pandemic have changed their mode of transport due to potential infection risks, delays and inconvenience due to cancelled or reduced public transport - i.e. they have changed their commute from public transport to private cars or bicycles. This has reduced their travel time, especially as traffic volumes are below pre-pandemic levels. Consider:
- That traffic congestion and the demand for parking space could increase dramatically as restrictions ease and more people opt for private transport, which may lead to increases in:
- Infrastructure maintenance costs on roads and motorways
- Negative environmental impacts, e.g. pollution
- Road traffic accidents and increased risk to cyclists and pedestrians, plus loss of public space, which may reduce the number of people who choose to cycle or walk
- Costs and challenges for freight and delivery services
- A travel awareness communication campaign, prior to an ease of restrictions:
- Raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable travel for improving air quality and reducing pollution
- Promote the health and well-being benefits of 'active transport' such as cycling
- Communicate the stringent safety measures in place on public transport to increase confidence and encourage people to travel by bus/train
- Draw on learning from previous crises to predict likely behaviours and inform policies that are fit for purpose, e.g. following the 2008 economic crisis, increased traffic increased congestion (Madrid, Spain)
- Expand and improve cycling and walking space and infrastructure around workplaces
- In cities, reduce speed limits to allow pedestrians and cyclists to be more confident and allow for social distancing
- Promote and expand schemes such as 'Cycle2Work' by removing spending caps and allowing people to by bikes through the scheme that are appropriate and relevant for them (see TMB Issue 7):
- Introduce a reimbursement scheme to reward cycling commuters, e.g. Netherlands offer 0.19 cent (euro) per kilometre cycled to work, or interest-free loans to purchase bikes
- Trial an e-bike hire scheme in cities, e.g. Leicester (UK)
- Review congestions charge policies and assess if they are appropriate for post-COVID activity
- Introduce new policies, e.g. workplace parking levy, a charge on employers who provide workplace parking (Nottingham City Council, UK)
Iran, Islamic Republic of,
Consider how to recover and renew public transport
The International Association of Public Transport (IAPT) have provided a manifesto to recover the public transport system "Back to Better Mobility" following the effects of COVID-19. So far, IAPT have provided three components of their call to action which aims to put public transport at the heart of building resilient cities, combat climate change, encourage heathy living, and boost local economies:
- Breathe Better as "a future without public transport is a future without clean air"
- Move Better as "a future without public transport is a future without free movement"
- Work Better as "a future without public transport will only damage the economy further"