Mike Waters' Blog: 30 July 2008 - The capital is the shape of things to come
31 July 2008
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
As our capital city, the changes that London makes today are likely to have an impact on the rest of the country in the future and the area of transport is no different.
For example congestion charging began in London and it looks as though several other major UK cities may well follow suit.
Despite heavy use of the tube, drivers still make up a significant proportion of journeys throughout the city. In inner London, 40% of journeys are made by car and as you would expect this figure rises to 60% in outer London. So for the shape of things to come where you live, it's worth taking a look at what's on the agenda in London.
Road works are a nuisance across the country and in London add to the already significant levels of congestion. Because of this, there is a focus on ensuring road works are completed in many cases more quickly and in all cases on schedule. If companies do not achieve this they will be stung with fixed penalty fines to make sure that they keep disruption to a minimum.
To keep traffic moving there are also plans to re-phase traffic lights, making the period shorter between changes so that drivers spend less time without moving. And to further reduce congestion and improve safety motorcycles may be allowed to use bus lanes in the future, easing congestion for all road users.
As you would expect, new technologies are at the heart of any plans for change. Transport for London will be introducing 60 hybrid buses this year, a number that is expected to rise to 500 by 2010. There are also moves to introduce more hybrid cabs into the city, something that if successful could swiftly be rolled out across the country.
By 2009 there will be a hydrogen re-fuelling station in the city and 10 hydrogen buses by 2010. There is also a real push toward electric vehicles with the Metropolitan Police and TfL using electric Smart cars already. You will currently find a modest 40 charging sites across London but the aim is that this figure will treble in two years.
Most radical for drivers is the concept of not driving at all, with modal shift high on the agenda. This will mean that car journeys are replaced by walking, cycling or use of public transport. We can already see more cycle paths popping up across the country and in London there are plans for a bike hire scheme across the city.
This is just a taste of the initiatives coming to London, and for clues as to what the future might hold for your town or city, keep an eye on what's going on in the capital as there is a strong chance that the more successful initiatives will become widespread in years to come.