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

In Passing

03 April 2020

  A whole university course could be taught about the politics of transport in Cambridgeshire, such are its labyrinthine plots. Things became even more confusing last month when the combined authority’s major James Palmer gave answers to two questions about the future of the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro project the wrong way round. The combined authority’s monitoring officer set the record straight in a letter to the Greater Cambridge Partnership: “The mayor had prepared answers to the two public questions asked on the local transport plan and Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro item but in responding to the second question the mayor gave the answer intended for the first question and vice versa. It was not the mayor’s intention to give the assurance requested by the member of the public that ‘the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s preferred route will be confined to the scrap heap’ and that is not his or the combined authority’s position.”  

With the nation grimly fixated on the Covid-19 pandemic, transport secretary Grant Shapps was going to have to say something pretty eye-catching in the DfT’s new Decarbonising Transport report to get any social media interest. And he jolly well succeeded by declaring: “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network.” The first thing it  reminded us of was deputy prime minister John Prescott’s 1997 pledge: "I will have failed if in five years' time there are not many more people using public transport and far fewer journeys by car.” Wisely, perhaps, Shapps did not end his statement in the way that Prescott did: "It's a tall order, but I urge you to hold me to it." 

The DfT has rebranded its Future Mobility Zones  ‘Future Transport Zones’ and the Future Mobility Regulatory Review the ‘Future Transport Regulatory Review’. But why? “We are rebranding the programme so that the language reflects the importance of putting people at the heart of our approach to future transport technology and business models.” We’re still none the wiser.

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