Smart Transport

Urban Transport Group outlines uncertainties around pace and scale of autonomous vehicle rollout

Urban Transport Group, the UK’s network of city region transport authorities, has published a new report setting out the ‘considerable uncertainties’ about the rollout of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) in the UK.

The report, Automatic for the people?, shows that while some of the biggest cities are already embracing the potential benefits CAVs could bring through their involvement in trials, the wider uncertainties around how CAVs might develop brings with it hugely complex challenges which require national Government to put city regions’ involvement in CAVs front and centre.

UTG is made up of Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, London, Tyne and Wear, Sheffield City Region, West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

Nottingham City Council, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Translink, Tees Valley and West of England Combined Authorities are associate members.

The four main areas the report identifies for action from Government are greater focus on preparing highways to be ready for CAV technology, getting a legal framework in place to give city regions power to trial CAVs, more Government funding for city regions to respond to CAV development and more realistic thinking around what is likely to be a “messy and uneven series of transitions” toward CAVs.

The report also recommends that city regions adopt a ‘principles-based approach’ to CAVs which reflects their goals for inclusive and sustainable economies ‘in order to steer CAVs policy in a way that maximises the wider benefits to people and places.’

Vernon Everitt, managing director, customers, communication and technology at Transport for London, and who leads on smart futures for the Urban Transport Group Board of Directors, said: “Vehicles are already becoming more connected and taking on more autonomous features.

“Although ultimately we do not know how fast and far the CAV trajectory will take us, this report provides a framework for transport authorities to think through the implications CAVs may have for their transport networks and the role cities might play now and in the future.

|It also sets out a series of recommendations for national Government and calls for urban transport authorities to be given a place at the top table in determining and implementing an effective national strategy for CAVs.”

Everitt said that if the Government adopts a broad and inclusive approach to the development of CAVs then there could be “fantastic opportunities to maximise for the benefit of people, places and the UK economy as a whole”.

The six recommendations from UTG for Government on CAVs are:

  1. Support transport authorities to make connections with national policy makers and CAV developers
  2. Maintain a balanced research programme into the impacts of CAVs
  3. National government to provide guidance to transport authorities on how to manage a lengthy – potentially indefinite – transition in CAV technologies
  4. Ensure transport authorities have the long-term funding certainty they need to plan for, and respond to CAVs
  5. More research and funding to be focused on the highways CAVs will run on
  6. Develop a legal and regulatory framework for CAVs which gives transport authorities the powers they need both to innovate and to balance the consumer interest with the wider local public interest

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