Cleaner and more efficient transport systems dominate the dominate the debate and the millions of pounds in research monies when it comes to shaping the transport modes and networks of the future. Yet we cannot ignore the necessity of adopting long-term transport solutions that will be safe, convenient and accessible to all.
This is against today’s backdrop of growing populations, increasing densities, mounting pressures to reduce car usage to tackling congestion and environmental challenges; and how to harness the potential benefits of emerging technologies.
At the Moving London Forward event, chaired by Steve Gosling (Director, Transport), Iceni Projects and hosted by Monopoly Network all these issues were discussed and how we can be future proofing London’s transport network today in preparation for tomorrow.
From a transport perspective all eyes were on and ears intently listening to Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Alex Williams (Director of City Planning). During the event Alex outlined TfL’s current strategy for planning for the future.
He provided the event attendees with some background on TfL’s progress, since being established in 2000, which has seen a significant reduction in the mode share of car trips due largely to policies implemented over this time. An approach that has been a mixture of carrots and sticks to achieve this success, such as congestion charging, London Cycle Hire and the Low Emissions Zone. TfL has a number of strategies in place to reduce this further again by making London’s streets healthier, safer and with cleaner air. TfL is committed to increasing capacity on the public transport network by 85% over the next 25 years, starting with Crossrail (more on that shortly) and a number of other planned improvements including Crossrail 2, new rolling stock and extensions to existing tube lines as a response to addressing the impact and consequences of congestion and delay on the capital’s roads.
It is in the field of emerging transport technologies there is a considerable amount of anticipation. TfL is absolutely committed to futureproofing the network to accommodate emerging technologies. Although there will be rigorous testing of all these against policy. Each new system or travel mode will also be considered on whether it adds value, is accessible to all and will use space efficiently. Whilst TfL are being proactive in embracing new technologies they will only endorse systems that are right for London and support the transport network.
The more immediate concern around the completion of Crossrail generated considerable debate for our expert panel speakers with Alex Williams (TfL) being joined by RPP Architects’ founder Robin Partington, DLA Piper Partner and planning lawyer, Howard Bassford and Iceni Projects’ Kieron Hodgson (Director, Central London Team) and Eilish Smeaton (Director, Strategic Planning Team and EIA expert) for a Question Time session.
On behalf of TfL, Alex assured us the delay to Crossrail’s completion would be worth the wait. He did acknowledge that the timing of the delayed opening date announcement could have been handled better. He suggested that one of the key factors in the delay was that different disciplines were very optimistic in terms of delivering their element of work and the cumulative impact of delays was not recognised soon enough. A variety of reviews are underway to provide confidence that the revised opening date will be met.
Whilst rail and public transport dominated the discussions there was debate on a whole raft of other transport topics in London. For instance, can we use the Thames more for passenger journeys, freight and removal of spoil from development sites?
Will less car trips for shopping purposes increase delivery vehicle trips and how can we accommodate this?
Are drones the answer?
How do we respond to increased airport capacity?
And is it vital to ensure transport links are improved to minimise car trips?
What was abundantly clear was that this futureproofing London’s transport network is a topic that impacts on all of our lives and we all have a responsibility, both personally and as development professionals, to work together to create a cleaner, more reliable and more efficient transport network.