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Transport technology can clean up London’s air - but Mayor must grab opportunity

Transport technology can clean up London’s air - but Mayor must grab opportunity

London Mayor Sadiq Khan must “seize the opportunity” offered by new shared transport, such as car clubs, and digital technology to overcome London’s transport problems, according to a new report by the IPPR think tank.  

Called ‘Crossroads - Choosing a Future for London’s Transport in the Digital Age’, the report argues that London is at a crossroads between two futures. One where the transport network is increasingly gridlocked, the air grows “ever dirtier” and the cost of accessing good transport increases. Or one where the best of digital technology is used to reduce journeys and air pollution, opening up new opportunities to make London a more attractive place to live.

New private hire technology like Uber and new delivery patterns driven by companies like Amazon are just a “first glimpse of the size of the revolution that digital technologies will unleash on London’s transport system”, according to IPPR.  

It believes future technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and Mobility as Service platforms, promise “even bigger and more rapid change”.  

The report suggests:
Car clubs, like DriveNow and Zipcar, should be a key part of the Mayor’s vision for London’s transport system and it suggests the Mayor’s Transport Strategy should include measures for how car clubs can help achieve key transport objectives.
Developing an explicit framework for new travel markets, in collaboration with operators of new transport services such as flexible car clubs and demand-responsive taxi services.
Transport for London (TfL) and boroughs should work with operators to develop borough-by-borough agreements to enable car club development. ·         Setting out the positive outcomes for the transport system, and how each new service and mode can contribute to support the uptake of more sustainable travel.          
Making TfL the central hub for travel data in London to help target areas in need of more efficient means of transport and create a more equal transport system as a whole.
Appointing a chief digital officer for London who anticipates the potential impacts of digital technologies and ensures the London government takes action on these to modernise the city’s transport system.

Laurie Laybourn-Langton, IPPR research fellow, said: “London is on the cusp of major changes to the way people move around the city. Shared transport and digital technology have the potential to drive positive transport outcomes and overcome London’s transport difficulties, thereby improving the city’s spaces and Londoner’s lives.

“Public intervention is required to realise these ends, and a window of opportunity currently exists in which action can and must be taken by London’s government. When this window closes, it will significantly increase the chances of a negative path dependence upon which technology will worsen existing problems, such as air pollution and congestion, and create new ones.  

“Therefore, the Mayor should incorporate a vision for new transport technologies into the Transport Strategy. If defined by a clear set of objectives for London’s overall transport network and a framework through which it can be achieved, this vision can deliver a more sustainable, accessible and active London transport system.” ·         The report can be accessed at: http://www.ippr.org/publications/crossroads-choosing-a-future-for-londons-transport