Innovation and changeGovernment TechnologyPolicy paper sets out DfT’s approach to innovation

Policy paper sets out DfT’s approach to innovation

The policy paper sets out guidelines for government decision-making and ensuring that emerging transport technologies are safe, accessible, and green

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published a policy paper titled Future of mobility: urban strategy that outlines the government’s approach to maximising the benefits from transport innovation in cities and towns. It sets out the principles that will guide the government’s response to emerging transport technologies and business models.

Future of mobility was one of the four Grand Challenges set out in the Government’s Industrial Strategy. According to the paper, technological changes present exciting opportunities to reshape the department’s relationship as individuals and as a society with vehicles. The paper has a clear strategic approach for DfT, which will help them seize these opportunities.

Jesse Norman, Minister of State for Transport, said in the foreword of the paper: “We have an extraordinary opportunity here – to put Britain at the heart of the next mobility revolution, and bequeath a better, greener and more successful country for future generations. It’s an opportunity that we are determined – with your help – to seize”

A principles-based approach

According to the policy paper, the government’s approach will be underpinned by the following principles:

  1. New modes of transport and new mobility services must be safe and secure by design
  2. The benefits of innovation in mobility must be available to all parts of the UK and all segments of society
  3. Walking, cycling and active travel must remain the best options for short urban journeys
  4. Mass transit must remain fundamental to an efficient transport system
  5. New mobility services must lead the transition to zero emissions
  6. Mobility innovation must help to reduce congestion through more efficient use of limited road space, for example through sharing rides, increasing occupancy or consolidating freight
  7. The marketplace for mobility must be open to stimulate innovation and give the best deal to consumers
  8. New mobility services must be designed to operate as part of an integrated transport system combining public, private and multiple modes for transport users
  9. Data from new mobility services must be shared where appropriate to improve choice and the operation of the transport system.

Priorities for 2019

Implementing a flexible regulatory framework will be a priority. The policy paper highlights four new areas of focus for regulatory review.

The new areas will be around micromobility vehicles, and how to trial them; mobility as a service; transport data; and modernising bus, taxis and private hire vehicles legislation. These are in addition to existing regulatory programmes for zero-emission vehicles, self-driving vehicles, drones and future flight, and maritime autonomy. The DfT wants to continue established technology-specific programmes to capitalise on the opportunities for the UK.

Supporting industry and local leaders will also be important and DfT will be fostering experimentation and trialling, through the launch of up to four future mobility zones with £90m of funding. The department will also look to encourage the sharing and harnessing of data, through the creation of standards and platforms that make it easier to access and use transport data.

By continuing to fund the research and development of low carbon technologies, the DfT wants to support the automotive industry to adapt. Building local capability will help the department to implement the principles for shaping the future of urban mobility. It will also help to develop local industrial strategies. Another priority for the DfT will be preparing the urban environment through publishing guidance. This will be to support local decisions about the design and allocation of urban space.

Ensuring government decision making is robust will also be a concern for the DfT. The policy paper outlines how the DfT wants to build futures thinking into their decision-making. The department intends to do this by updating its strategy and guidance for transport appraisal and modelling. Through conducting analysis and research, DfT wants to build the evidence base for new transport technologies and their impacts. Understanding public perceptions, through public dialogue and surveys exploring attitudes to new transport technologies is vital in DfT’s priority list.

Interesting facts

On the sidelines of the approach principals and priorities, the policy paper details a number of interesting facts:

  • Over £20bn per year: Total social costs of the deaths and health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution, as estimated by the Royal College of Physicians
  • £7.4bn: Annual burden imposed on the UK economy by lack of physical activity
  • $54.2bn: External investments into ride-hailing companies between 2014 and September 2018
  • Over 18 million: Quarterly travellers using the world’s largest long-distance ride-sharing platform, BlaBlaCar
  • £16bn: PwC estimate of the net cost savings to the UK from the uptake of drones by 2030
  • £1.4tn: Estimated value of the global market for intelligent mobility by 2030
  • £740m: Funding reserved through the National Productivity Investment Fund for investment in digital infrastructure by 2020/21
  • 48,150: Number of higher level apprenticeships started in England in 2017/18
  • 5,066: Apprenticeships created through the Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce in its first two years

Maximise benefits, mitigate risks

DfT’s strategy is an important step towards shaping the direction of mobility innovation.

The government is committed to managing the transition to cleaner transport, automation, new business models, and new modes of travel. This will transform how people, goods, and services move. Managing this transition will maximise the benefits and mitigate the risks of changes in mobility.

The paper concludes by stating that the principles for shaping the future of urban mobility present a clear signal of what DfT is seeking to achieve and will guide future decisions. The broad programme of work that has been launched will help to foster mobility innovation that benefits transport users and society.

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