Local Transport Today is the authoritative, independent journal for transport decision makers. Analysis, Comment & News on Transport Policy, Planning, Finance and Delivery since 1989.

Today - and tomorrow

20 March 2020

LTT’s mission and that of our audience must, by the nature of our subject matter, embrace matters of the short, medium and long terms. Sometimes all brought together in trade-offs and analyses about the best plans and policies, and decisions on the allocation of resources and investment etc.

This month, the only national perspective that matters is the short-term. Getting through the COVID-19 pandemic without too much loss of life, and social and economic disruption and damage is rightly everyone’s number one priority. And through the measures that the Government has taken, and now reflected in those of transport service providers in both the private and public sectors, it has meant a huge upheaval in the transport world with likely enormous ongoing consequences. It’s a struggle for survival across businesses in all modes – road, rail, and, of course, air – not to mention the management challenges of providing essential mobility and freight distribution where survival is the priority, and personal enjoyment, human experiences and interactions are put on hold. The pandemic is dramatically upending our world, as it surely is yours. 

It may seem odd to seek to comment beyond that frightening and challenging scenario of getting through the next few months. But we do feel that the wider context of all this upheaval and its longer-term consequences must properly be put on the radar amongst our audience of professionals responsible for planning and delivering our transport and mobility systems going forward.

At the risk of a cliché, the world after the pandemic – which we must all believe will be a temporary disturbance – is unlikely to be just like the one before. The implications of not only the factors that have made COVID-19 bite so hard, and our responses to it be so initially ineffective, will resonate for many years ahead. As will discussion about how we might all benefit from living differently and adopting alternative ways of connecting across, and experiencing, our  planet. It’s already being pointed out how the shutdown of human activity is cleaning up the air and reducing the human carbon footprint in ways no other actions could contemplate. 

The world has truly been turned upside down these last few weeks, but whether that is a short-term or permanent upheaval is yet to be clear. 

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