OPINION: Has Shared Mobility been thought through?

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Trudy Harrison, MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Trudy Harrison, MP - Credit: David Woolfall

The UK must move away from ‘20th Century thinking centred around private vehicle ownership’ and towards shared mobility, Trudy Harrison, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport has stated. 

She also said that shared mobility must become ‘the norm’ as she outlined support for a future transport system which would introduce ‘greater flexibility with personal choice and low carbon shared transport’ she claimed. 

Trudy Harrison was addressing the Collaborative Mobility Conference (CoMoUK) and went on to say it was ‘staggering’ that nearly two thirds of car trips are taken by lone drivers and the UK is at a ‘tipping point’ where shared mobility will soon be a ‘realistic option for many of us to get around’. As many analysts question whether new car markets will ever return to the pre-Covid new registration highs, a new vision of a transport system where ‘mobility hubs become a familiar part of our street architecture and where all these options will be available to book and pay for at the touch of a smartphone’ was shared with conference delegates. 

Trudy Harrison went on to say ‘the challenge is to move further and faster to make shared mobility less of a novelty and increasing the norm to make it as easy, as convenient and as accessible as possible. We are reaching a tipping point where shared mobility in the form of car clubs, scooters and bike shares will soon be a realistic option for many of us to get around’. She went on to say ‘I think the benefits are really significant from clean air to healthier populations to greater connectivity for more people, no matter where they live’. 

Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK said: “The Minister’s comments were very welcome and demonstrate that shared transport is firmly on the Government’s agenda.” 

My question is, have they thought this through or is this something which will suit the large cities where their populations already have more and better choices, through various public transport services as well as many private taxis. Also, the timing could have been better as the Prime Minister is encouraging us to travel in small groups with people we know, to try and stop the dramatic rise in the Omicron variant of the Covid pandemic. 

In the rural areas the public transport is inadequate and expensive and many people are forced to purchase their own method of transport to get to work, visit family and friends, participate in sport or hobbies or make a vital journey (the Motability Scheme for disabled drivers is an excellent example). 

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Since the invention of the motor vehicle, lives of individuals have been enhanced by the freedom of personal movement to go where and when they wish without relying on public services and the motorist has been a major source of income for Governments over the years. We are moving towards electric vehicles and I am sure there will be other sources of power to bring clean air and a healthier environment in the future. 

Whether we are ready to give up this freedom will depend on the quality, convenience and cost of the alternatives Government or private enterprise can offer. If motor vehicles could be run on hot air we would have less of a problem. 

Stay safe and keep smiling. I look forward to next week.