As the new Minister of State for Transport, I have taken on responsibility for a range of transport issues. This includes the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, which has given a major funding boost to smart travel solutions across England. My new portfolio also covers a number of associated topics, such as integrated journeys, smart ticketing, transport accessibility, and, most importantly, the role of transport in growing our economy.
It’s been an interesting first month in the role of Minister of State. I have been consistently impressed by the aspirations that local authorities have for their transport systems. Transport plays a crucial role in creating places we want to work and live and a good transport system can transform lives. It can link people to jobs and education. It can improve health and wellbeing. And it can bring communities closer together.
This year, Landor LINKS have worked with the Department for Transport, Transport for Greater Manchester, Sustrans and Atkins to deliver a conference and magazine which both take the name of ‘Mainstreaming Smarter Travel’.
To me, it means a community where cycling or walking, hopping on the bus or sharing a lift with a colleague, is the norm. Where local authorities do not need to convince the public to travel sustainably, because the public has already bought in to the idea.
We know that smarter travel initiatives deliver high benefit for low cost. And the need for cheap, effective transport solutions continues to be important even as our economy shows sign of recovery. We need to understand what works and what doesn’t. And we need to gather evidence to support business cases for future investment in smarter travel. My Department’s Monitoring and Evaluation framework goes some way to delivering this, and I’d like to personally thank everyone who is participating in the collection of evidence for this. But great value can also be gained by talking to each other, discussing barriers encountered and solutions found, and collectively building the knowledge needed to deliver the best local transport networks we can.
I very much welcome this opportunity to contribute to the transport systems of the future, from developing High Speed Rail links, to encouraging better journey connectivity, to promoting the importance of accessibility across transport modes. I wish you all the best as we continue to strive for a transport system that is accessible, integrated and smart.
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