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Written evidence submitted by The Transport Planning Society

The Transport Planning Society (TPS) is the leading professional body for transport planners and has a continuing interest in all transport matters. We are a society to facilitate, develop and promote best practice in transport planning and provide a focus for dialogue between all those engaged in it, whatever their background or other professional affiliation.

 

The events of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on how we get around, how goods are transported, and how transport planners do their work and so we feel fully qualified to provide evidence to the select committee on behalf of our membership , which in turn represents professionals working in the transport field.

 

Our evidence is based around the effect on transport – ‘key’ we fell to the recovery and on our industry as professionals working within this field.

 

In April 2020 at the height of the national lockdown, the Directors of the TPS recognised the need to look into the effects of the pandemic on the industry as a whole and set up a project to allow transport planners to share their stories, thoughts, and feelings about transport planning and its future in this uncertain time.

 

The results of that project form the basis of this evidence.

 

Our evidence is based around the effect on transport – ‘key’ we fell to the recovery and on our industry as professionals working within this field.

 

We asked our members and supporters to answer the following questions:

         How are you feeling about transport planning right now?

         What issues and opportunities for transport planning do you see posed by the COVID-19 crisis?

         How do you feel about the future of transport planning and why?

         What should transport planners and the TPS be doing about this?

 

 

The responses to each of the questions are illustrated below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. How are you feeling about transport planning right now?

 


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  1. What issues and opportunities for transport planning do you see posed by the COVID-19 crisis?


 

  1. How do you feel about the future of transport planning and why?

 


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Respondents feel both uncertain and positive about transport planning right now. One of the respondents described the current situation as ‘no better nor more difficult time to plan for the future’.

 

 

 

Respondents focused mainly on the issues and opportunities around travel behaviour, the future of major projects and schemes and the funding for them. They also point out some environmental issues and opportunities due to COVID-19, and also mentioned what could happen with different transport planning tools we rely on as part of delivering transport projects.

 


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Most of the respondents share the same point of view that a reduction will occur in public transport and an increase will be noticeable in public car usage especially for the short – medium term.

 

The majority of respondents believe that walking and cycling will likely to increase especially for shorter journeys.

 

 

  1. What should transport planners and the TPS be doing about this?

 

         Support - members, the environmental agenda, innovative working,

         Lobbying government to effect change,

         Engaging& debating with each other and other institutions over post COVID-19 scenarios

         Leading – e.g. cross disciplinary consensus building

         Documenting impact,

         Facilitate sharing of info. and data,

         Address issues at Transport Practitioners conference via themed workshops,

         Setting the vision for the country & industry,

         Research- particularly influencing research into transport behaviour change

         Collectively working with DfT, CLG & Local Authorities,

         Proactively influence govt. policy & actions

         Support more digital settings

         Make our voice heard

         Development of skills – fewer engineers- more behaviour change experts, Think & plan smarter

         Advocate & not compete with other non-car transport

         Provide public response to social distancing (SD) issues around Public Transport

         Position TPS as essential profession to deal with current crisis

         Design to ensure a measure of social distancing

Further a number of our members and supporters produced blogs on this topic which can be found at on the Transport Planning Society website at https://tps.org.uk/tp-day-2020- announced/read-our-blogs

 

The Transport Planning Society firmly believes that transport and the professionals who work in this field are key to a sustainable and safe recovery following the pandemic.

We would like to offer our full support for all measures that encourage people to travel more sustainably but we would like to emphasis the need for long-term capital and revenue support for these, in order to ensure that measures are planned, designed and delivered to the highest possible standard and are as accessible to as many people as possible.

 

Joanna Ward – Board Director Transport Planning Society Sept 2020

 


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Coronavirus: implications for transport – Call for Evidence Main Report

Transport Planning and the COVID-19 pandemic


 

During 2020, transport faced a challenge unforeseen in its scale and impacts, and one inconceivable as the year started. The onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic resulted in drastic changes in lifestyles, attitudes, economies, and how we get around. As lockdowns of people were introduced around the world, and eventually eased, there were dramatic shifts in behaviour. Shifts that we are only just beginning to understand the implications of.

The Transport Planning Society undertook a project to document the changes that have taken place in transport during one of the most turbulent times that it has ever faced. We particularly wanted to understand the impact on transport planners as professionals, focussing on 4 key questions:

1.      How do you feel right now?

2.      What issues and opportunities for transport planning do you see posed by the COVID-19 crisis?

3.      How do you feel about the future of transport planning and why?

4.      What should transport planners and the TPS be doing about this? This paper is that story, distilled.

How did we change how we got around?

This is the question that we always ask ourselves as transport planners. And the answer is, how we got around changed dramatically. To give a few highlights:

 

 

 

On 29th March, the number of cars on UK roads was 23% of its usual

level, and was the same on 13th April (the Spring Bank Holiday)

 

The use of bicycles soared to 384% of its normal level over the May Bank Holiday weekend, and even now is still above its normal levels of use.

The use of public transport significantly declined, and remains low. At one point, the use of London Underground was at 4% of its usual use.

 


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Figure 1 – The use of different modes of transport during the COVID-19 pandemic1

 

The result in terms of initiatives and work done was huge. Below is a summary of the list that we as a group managed to note. It is by no means comprehensive and it only covers the UK, and we found several resources online that detail initiatives and schemes that are being delivered.

 

Month

Announcement

March

emergency contract measures

April

May


1 Department for Transport (2020) Transport use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Date site accessed: 11/10/2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/transport-use-during-the-coronavirus- covid-19-pandemic

 


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June

July

 

How did this affect transport planners?

To understand the impacts of this on transport planners, a small group of committed transport planners got together and simply asked them. And we asked them in a number of creative ways:

 

 

The answers that we found were as wide-ranging and significant as the pandemic itself.

 

How were transport planners feeling?

They were feeling a lot of things, it is fair to say. When asked, transport planners often first highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect transport, and how they felt about that. Here, the thoughts were very mixed.

 





 

 

 

 


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But when probed, what was revealed was that transport planners also felt a deep sense of personal unease about the situation.





 

 

 

 

What emerged from our work was that transport planners felt that the industry is at a defining moment. To some that is exciting. It offers the opportunity to remake the future of transport in the UK, and for transport planners to have a stronger voice. Particularly when it comes to pushing for solutions that before the pandemic were deemed impossible to do.

 

But that future is also a daunting one for many. Especially when the immediate future involves losing your job, not seeing friends and family, or working every hour of the day. This future also gives the possibility that what emerges from the pandemic is either no change or change for the worse.

 

Perhaps one respondent to our survey put it the best:


 

The issues and opportunities of COVID-19

When we asked transport planners how they felt about transport planning during COVID-19, there was a huge diversity of opinion. What became clear to us is that transport planners were feeling a huge variety of things, at exactly the same time. But what was more interesting was how all of these different perspectives were linked to one another.

 

Take, for example, feelings of excitement and positivity. Our analysis of the responses to the survey indicated that that this aligned closely with feelings of being needed, the opportunity to re-shape transport planning and how things are done, and being at the start of a period of significant change. But it is also aligned to it being difficult to plan, which in turn is aligned to concerns about the future.

 


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