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Solent’s Future Transport Zone rejigged in response to virus


Andrew Forster
13 July 2020

Solent Transport is revising its Future Transport Zone programme of innovations in response to the changed policy environment resulting from Covid-19. 

The DfT named Solent Transport as one of three new Future Transport Zone areas in March (LTT 23 Mar), awarding the body  £28.8m over four years (2020/21-2023/24). Solent Transport comprises four local transport authorities: Southampton, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, and Hampshire.  

Solent commissioned consultant Atkins to review the FTZ programme to see how delivery risks could be reduced in the context of Covid-19.

Richard Pemberton, principal transport planner at Solent Transport, told the Solent Transport joint committee last week: “Some projects, particularly those focused on public and shared forms of transport, may now be at greater risk of failure to deliver intended outputs, whilst other projects may offer greater benefits than originally envisaged and/or could be adapted to support the Covid-19 transport sector response.”

Pemberton said Atkins’ most significant recommendations were that the dynamic demand responsive transport and a workplace liftshare projects be delayed and reduced in scope, with consideration given to cancelling them in their  entirety following a review next spring to see if social distancing makes the projects hard to deliver successfully. 

Subject to agreement from the DfT, Solent plans to divert the funding to enable e-scooter trials – which did not feature in the area’s FTZ bid – and accelerate the bike share project and, possibly, a micro-consolidation project. 

The four local authorities submitted a proposal to the DfT in May to trial e-scooters as a supplement to buses between several park-and-ride sites and city centres/employment hubs across the Solent area. 

Bike share should be prioritised, says Atkins, in recognition that the scheme has the ability to 

“maximise initial behavioural changes influenced by Covid-19”. The provision of e-bikes in the scheme could be increased. 

Atkins recommends delaying the start of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) trials at the universities of Portsmouth and Southampton by two years, until September 2022. 

It also recommends reviewing a proposed trial of mobility credits in two areas of Havant borough. It suggests reviewing the trial details e.g. area and types of transport covered.

Atkins recommends pausing a macro-consolidation project until year two. “Other projects which could deliver quicker Covid-19 benefits require more immediate resourcing.”

One project that has been accelerated is the drone medical logistics trial between the mainland and the Isle of Wight. It is now operating, having been accelerated by more than a year at the request of the DfT at a time of reduced ferry services and increased demand for medical supplies. 

Drones transport goods to/from St Mary’s Hospital in Newport on the Isle of Wight, operating between Solent Airport (Lee-on-Solent) and Binstead Airfield on the Isle. The craft is cleared for  carrying benign cargoes. Work continues to secure clearance for dangerous goods category 3 and time-sensitive medicines.

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