Smart Transport

Transport for the North research highlights commuting and logistics challenges

Martin Tugwell, chief executive at Transport for the North

Transport for the North (TfN) has put together a new report that reveals the latest transport-related behaviours and attitudes of Northern businesses.

The User Insight Phase 3 report, commissioned by TfN and delivered by SYSTRA, covers key issues such as remote working, demand for deliveries, decarbonisation, and the importance of investing in the region’s infrastructure.

It highlights the shifts in travel patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic and the longer-term impacts; uncovers thoughts on electric vehicles and greening operations; and reveals how a lack of connectivity is creating uncertainty.

Martin Tugwell, TfN chief executive, said: “This incredibly useful data uncovers a number of key opportunities and shows the importance of understanding the user perspective.

“Investing now in our road and rail networks, freight links, decarbonisation initiatives and active travel schemes, will make ‘levelling up’ real for people and businesses.

"Better connectivity will enable easier, more reliable access to jobs and new markets, and instil confidence and resilience for the future.”

Tugwell said the research also highlights the differing challenges for urban and rural businesses; small and large companies, showing that local insight into what the region needs is an essential piece of the puzzle when making decisions on which projects to invest in at which moments.

He said: “It’s clear that our region’s businesses have strong ambitions, and need the appropriate infrastructure to support them.

“Through the region’s 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships that sit on our board, we are representing our businesses and speaking with ‘one voice’ on how they stand to benefit from a sustained pipeline of investment in transport.”

Tugwell added that the research and projects that are already underway allow TfN to inform and sense-check its transport investment priorities.

Highlights from the User Insight Phase 3 report include:

  • On average, businesses expect time spent remote working to remain above pre-pandemic levels in the short term – but estimates differ significantly by industry.
  • The growing prevalence of virtual meetings is expected to reduce demand for business trips for many businesses.
  • Businesses anticipate continued growth in demand for transport of goods – many expect to receive and send more deliveries in coming years compared to levels seen during the pandemic.
  • Many businesses would like to do more to decarbonise their transport use – however interventions will be needed to tackle current barriers experienced by businesses.
  • A notable share of businesses anticipate benefits from improved road and rail transport in the North – particularly those reliant on transport of goods, and those looking to establish or grow their business.

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