The Government has called for new evidence on UK transport laws and launched a £90 million technology trial to boost smart transport initiatives in four areas across the country.
Portsmouth and Southampton, the West of England Combined Authority and Derby and Nottingham have been chosen as three new future transport zones set to receive a share of the £90m. They all join the existing West Midlands future transport zone.
New consultation has also been launched as part of the Future of Transport regulatory review and is seeking views on micro mobility vehicles, flexible bus services and mobility as a service. The consultation is open now and closes on May 22 at 11:45pm.
The review will also consider how decisions around everyday travel can influence the decision to choose to walk, cycle, use public transport or micro mobility instead of using a car.
One of the projects tested will see drones carrying medical supplies from clinics on the Isle of Wight to hospitals on the mainland.
This will help speed up diagnoses by cutting out time spent journeying on ferries and roads. Once trials are complete, the drones could eventually be used to transport chemotherapy kits to save time and potentially lives.
The Government will also consult on the use of e-scooters and the impact they may have on UK transport.
Requirements for both e-scooters and those using them are being explored to make sure they are safe for use on roads.
This includes a minimum age and vehicle standards as well as insurance requirements.
The review will also consider if local authorities should have extra powers to manage the impacts of e-scooters on public space, for example where they can be parked.
'Emerging technologies are ripping up the rulebook'
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “We are on the cusp of a transport revolution.
"Emerging technologies are ripping up the rulebook and changing the way people and goods move forever.”
Shapps said the future of transport programme marks the biggest review of transport laws in a generation and will pave the way for new transport technology to be tested.
He said: “This review will ensure we understand the potential impacts of a wide range of new transport modes such as e-scooters, helping to properly inform any decisions on legalisation.
“Funding these new zones across the country will also help us safely test innovative ways to get around, creating a greener future transport system for us all.”
Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and COP26 president, said the review could help drive down transport emissions by making greener ways to travel available to more people.
Sharma said Future Transport Zones will also help to spur low carbon innovation by providing researchers with testing facilities for the clean transport technologies of the future.
The government is also exploring how to test emerging technology in bus, taxi and private hire vehicle services, which could make journey planning and payment simpler and more seamless.
For example, by reviewing regulations which could make it easier for bus services to operate in a similar way to on-demand taxis or private hire vehicles.
The new Future Transport Zone trials:
- West of England Combined Authority will introduce booking platforms, giving people access to book one journey across multiple modes of transport through their smartphone or online. They will also work to trial self-driving cars to transport people between Bristol airport, central Bath and the Northern Arc.
- Portsmouth and Southampton will test how new tech can improve travel in car-dominated areas outside of major cities and provide the ability to plan journeys through smartphone apps. New options for last-mile deliveries for freight will also be trialled including e-cargo bikes in cities, and using drones for medical deliveries.
- Derby and Nottingham have been granted more than £15 million to invest in new ‘mobility hubs’ that integrate and encourage more widespread uptake of public transport, bike hire, car clubs and electric vehicles. It will also create a website and an app to improve information about transport choices and simplify payments for people when travelling.