Notes from Wales National Transport conference, 16th November 2017

Posted by on Nov 20, 2017 in News | No Comments


What I learnt on behalf of Cardiff Civic Society.

[WSP – Quotations from conference sponsor WSP white paper ‘New Mobility Now’]

  1. WELSH GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES. Simon Jones (Director, Economic Infrastructure)- The transport network is key to long term prosperity, it needs to be secure and connected.
    – Decarbonisation is vital.
    – Solutions are to be developed backed by modelling and Weltag ( a Welsh Transport Assessment guideline).
    – SW Metro is a step change development for Wales.
    – Freight must be protected, 70% of cargo from Ireland enters via Holyhead.
    – We need a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales.
    – Autonomous and connected electric vehicles are a research priority.
    – Delivery is now the priority.WSP- The opportunity offered by New Mobility is significant and highly valuable,  particularly to city and area leaders, place-makers, transport network owners, mobility and technology providers. The major challenge is that multiple changes are in motion and a range of outcomes are possible. Each city, suburb and rural area is entirely distinct; each one has a unique starting point and specific needs. But all have one thing in common with “New Mobility”, the bundle of transport, technology and mobility changes that will become the bedrock of future transport systems, is already transforming the way we move around, live and interact.
  2. ASHLEY ROGERS, NW/Mersey/Dee Business Council.
    – N Wales has an economic affinity with adjacent English regions, total population 700K.
    – Rail infrastructure is 40 years old, it’s quicker by car.
    – Combined local authority approach to secure £1Bn investment in rail based solution centred on Crewe, entitled Growth Track 360.
  3. TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT, Professors Tony Pipe(Bristol) & Peter White(London)– The car companies are worried!
    – Vehicle manufacturers have variously announced a switch to an electric only product array between 2019 and 2030.
    – Countries and cities are planning regulation/restriction/taxation in many forms to ensure the switch from hydrocarbon to electric over the next 20 years.
    – The design of these vehicles represents a major change to established practice.WSP – Technological change will happen whether we choose to engage or take no action. Those who sit back will almost certainly be left behind and, in some cases could be left with additional risks and costs.

– Trials are in place to develop software for Autonomous Vehicles(AV) and assess public perception of driverless vehicles.
– 92% of accidents are associated with driver inattention, there is a potentially massive safety benefit of AV.
– Early conclusions are that transfer of control back to a driver is dangerous, response times to react to complex situations are typically 20/30 seconds. It is better to move directly to full AV capability.
– Connectivity to infrastructure is also needed, i.e. the ability to read road signs.
– AV vehicle and battery costs are high at present as they are prototypes but announcements daily of new products are revolutionising design and cost.
– AV minibus options have a major running cost advantage, and could lead to rejuvenation of rural services. The extra purchase cost has a 6-week payback!
– Remember, AV will not need drivers for buses and taxis!
– Small AV vehicles (pods) used as public transport instead of cars do not need parking, releasing land in cities for useful development and contribute to the funding of the network.

WSP – In relation to public transit, the mutually beneficial relationship with shared use and models such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS) should not be missed. A more automated, connected and shared network is one within which highly efficient public ownership and shared use could thrive, in place of private vehicle ownership

WSP – Managing congestion and urban sprawl for the short and longer run One of the most frequently observed challenges for automation in relation to routes and places is congestion. Taking the automation element of New Mobility on its own, the obvious solution is to encourage a shift from non- or partly automated vehicles towards a fleet that becomes increasingly automated over time. The key risk here is that, without some form of road user pricing, there is no direct incentive to road users to reduce congestion below its current day levels, despite the fact that almost every urban centre in the world reports congestion and poor air quality as a headline issue.

  1. VISIT WALES, Gerwyn Evans
    – An interesting presentation on how Visit Wales is focussing on transport routes for future campaigns to attract tourists.
    – Research identifies weather, “unfriendliness”, ‘nothing to do’ and poor transport as the reasons why people do not consider Wales as a tourist location.
    – The economic opportunity is large, 10% of the working population are in tourism related businesses.
    – 4 tourist routes are identified, including the A470, west coast route, north coast route and the Brecons.
    – Apps are being developed for adventure activities, quality food and accommodation, cultural attractions along each route under a unified brand – very impressive!
  2. TRANSPORT FOR WALES (TfW), Geoff Ogden.
    – TfW has been working on the Wales and Borders franchise with bidders, on a collaborative basis. Thus each bidder has been able to clarify its offer in discussion with WG, who has defined minimum service requirements.
    – The basis is full control of track (transfer from Network Rail) and train operation.
    – Bid responses are due end December 2017, selection of winning bid by Spring 2018.
    – The heavy rail element will transfer to the winning bidder on October 2018.
    – Transfer of phase 1 Metro (the Core Valley Lines – CVL) will be Q4 2019/Q12020. Metro will begin to take shape from that date using an electrified CVL as the base of network development.
    – A focus of recent work has been to look at the land use opportunities that can be achieved around each station on the network. Note – CCS has been fully engaged in this work.
    These notes from a selection of the presentations and Q&A sessions highlight that we are poised to enter a new era of transport in Wales through the WG (TfW and Visit Wales) and through technological change driven by the switch from hydrocarbon fuels to electric as the urgency to reduce CO2 and emissions of pollutants has become irresistible.WSP – The transition to New Mobility is underway. Some countries and cities are ahead of others and appetites vary, but onward change against the four key aspects – automated, connected, shared and electric – is inevitable. The fifth element, business models, acts as the enabler or “glue” between the other four. We are convinced that all five aspects are essential, as they each add distinct value to the potential on offer from New Mobility.WSP – The electric strand (or alternative fuels yet to emerge) is the primary New Mobility element that holds the key to substantially cleaner air for our communities in the long-run. – The sharing strand holds the transformational power around future place-making across our cities, towns and rural centres.WSP – Finally, the business model strand, linked closely with pricing, will unlock the shift from today’s seemingly eclectic selection of pilots and operating models across the automated, connected and electric strands to a truly sustainable New Mobility ‘bundle’ for the long-run.

    The consequences of such change will have a major impact on the way our cities in particular are designed for the future. The vision of an exclusively rail based urban transit system we had 10 years ago is clearly out of date, and the electric/AV technology is fast approaching, some say it will dominate within 5 to 10 years, well within the Urban Planning timescales – the Cardiff LDP started in 2006 and runs until 2026! So we need to plan our future for an AV/electric world now.

    WSP – We foresee that the outcome of this will be a continued blurring of the boundaries between long-established public transit and new shared forms of private hire, minibus and carpooling. These present challenges for transport network regulators and operators in the context of everyday network management, but also opportunities for better collaboration.

    WSP – The unique potential offered by shared mobility relates to new place-making potential. Regardless of currency, there are millions if not billions to be made in the hearts of the largest cities around the world, where land values and the potential for uplift tends to be the greatest. 10-15% of total urban land area is typically used for parking (both on and off street), and if we can move towards a New Mobility solution that relies on shared mobility then some or all can be reallocated for other uses.

    The issue is not necessarily how quickly we can adopt AV but how we transition from today’s bus based network to a future of shared vehicles of many different shapes and sizes operating in a city landscape without roads; prioritising walking and cycling and sharing space with AV mobility services. Getting to the city could still be by private car(electric of course, AV possibly) or train/tram but moving around the city would be by AV taxi or small bus on a scheduled or on demand basis. This will have profound impacts on the design of the city now, the technology is evolving as we speak.

David Eggleton

Cardiff Civic Society

20th November 2017