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Call for evidence

Reforming public transport after the pandemic



The Transport Committee has launched a new inquiry to examine the longer-term implications of the coronavirus pandemic on the transport sector.

We will take a holistic look at how public transport has changed, or may change, as a result of the pandemic, the implications these changes raise for the UK Government’s transport strategies (Williams Rail Review, buses, walking and cycling, taxis and PHVs, decarbonisation, air quality etc) and the reforms that would support a better, more sustainable transport system for the longer-term.

Our work so far in 2020 has highlighted the profound impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had across our transport system. Passenger demand across modes of public transport plummeted during the lockdown and is slowly recovering, threatening the financial viability of many operators, especially while social distancing remains in place.

The UK Government has provided billions of pounds of public subsidies for bus and train operators, light rail and tram systems as well as extra money to support increases in cycling and walking. Many believe public subsidies will need to continue for many months to come, if not longer.

The pandemic has resulted in more people working from home, shopping online and choosing to walk, cycle or drive, rather than catch a bus or train. If these changes to work, travel and consumer behaviour become embedded for the longer-term, policymakers will need to reimagine our transport system works. The actions of central and local government in response to the crisis may have an influence on how people choose to travel in the longer-term.

If approached in the right way, the pandemic could be a unique opportunity to build a better, more sustainable transport system, which helps to meet the Government’s challenging target to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. It also presents a chance to explore reforms and technological innovations that may shape the future of transport in the UK and elsewhere.

Our call for evidence

The Committee welcomes written evidence on the extent that the coronavirus pandemic could, and should, be used as an opportunity to reform public transport for the longer-term. 

We are particularly interested in the long-term implications of the pandemic for: 

  • the use of public transport and the way that people choose to travel, both locally and for longer domestic journeys;
  • central and local governmental transport priorities and finances and funding for transport;
  • the devolution of transport policy-making responsibilities and powers; 
  • the resilience of the transport system for future crises;
  • the decarbonisation of transport and the capability to meet net zero carbon emissions targets by 2050;
  • innovation and technological reform within transport.

You do not need to cover all the above issues in your submission. International travel is not included within the remit of this inquiry.

We will also be looking to see how governments and transport authorities in other countries are responding to similar challenges. 

Deadline for submissions

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 24 September 2020. Submissions should be a maximum of 3,000 words.

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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