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Lords COVID-19 Committee to explore public transport in towns and cities

30 June 2021

On Tuesday 6 July, the COVID-19 Committee explores the long-term impact of the pandemic on public transport in towns and cities.

Background

Research[1] suggests that the pandemic has put back attitudes to using public transport versus driving by two decades, with almost two-thirds of UK car owners now considering their vehicle essential. Although 50% of respondents stated that they had used their car less in 2020, 57% perceived access to a car as more important now than before the pandemic. Only 43% of respondents agreed that they would use their car less if there was better public transport provision, a fall from 57% in 2019, and the lowest figure since 2002.

In this session, the Committee will consider the pandemic’s long-term impact on passenger numbers, demand for public transport, efforts to improve the environmental sustainability of public transport and the financial viability of public transport provision, as well as any resulting impact on inequality. Members are also eager to learn more about witnesses’ long-term vision for the future of post-pandemic public transport, and specific suggestions for policy interventions that can ensure sustainable public transport provision in vibrant towns and cities post-pandemic.

[1] RAC Report on Motoring 2020 - https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/features/report-on-motoring-2020/

Witnesses

At 9.45am, the Committee will hear evidence from:

  • Rt Hon Norman Baker, Adviser to the CEO at the Campaign for Better Transport;
  • John Birtwistle, Head of Policy at FirstBus;
  • Marianna Panizza, Director of Campaigns at the Rail Delivery Group;
  • David Cowan, Director of Commercial Operations at Translink;
  • Ian Wright, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at Transport Focus; and
  • Professor Nick Tyler, Director of the UCL Centre for Transport Studies.

Themes for discussion

The themes likely to be covered during the session are:

  • The long-term impact of the pandemic on passenger numbers, passenger expectations and demand for public transport;
  • The long-term impact of the pandemic on efforts to improve the environmental sustainability of public transport;
  • The long-term impact of the pandemic on the financial viability of public transport provision;
  • Witnesses’ long-term vision for the future of post-pandemic public transport provision;
  • Suggestions for ensuring that post-pandemic public transport provision is a positive force in towns and cities, such as through helping regeneration efforts or helping to attract new economic investment and opportunities; and
  • The interventions required to safeguard the long-term future, and financial viability, of public transport provision post-pandemic and ensure that public transport provision helps to create vibrant and sustainable towns and cities.

Further information