The Future of Mobility is one of four Grand Challenges outlined in the UK’s Industrial Strategy. Each of the Grand Challenges reflects a major global trend to which UK must respond to ensure its international competitiveness. The way people, goods and services move is changing right now and business and government need to work together to ensure the UK meets these challenges and all of society benefits from the new technologies and innovations.
The term 'mobility revolution' is no exaggeration. You will have seen for yourself the continuous stream of news articles on electric cars, autonomous driving, the sharing economy and the impact transport has on the environment. Too often in the UK problems have been tackled in isolation, each government department acting alone. The scale and speed of change is now such that a whole ecosystem review of transport is needed - including regulatory reform, R&D funding and infrastructure investment. For example, the current regulatory system was established in and for a pre-digital age. The accelerated pace of change means that a more responsive and flexible regulatory system is necessary to enable quick adoption of new technologies.
In June, CBI Head of Infrastructure, Tom Thackray, chaired a roundtable at Rolls Royce that was attended by businesses from across the transport sector. Some of the highlights from the discussion included:
- The need to better understand the social and behavioural impacts of new technologies in the transport system. The creation of a complete operational simulation that reproduces real life data and examines changes such as electrification and drone technology.
- Meeting the challenges to regulation over a range of aspects, but particularly on infrastructure and collaboration. For example, getting bus services to collaborate and share data to make a more seamless network for consumers. Regulation that provides a safe and secure framework for sharing whilst making it a requirement for bus services to do this would be helpful. There are some good examples of businesses that are sharing data with local authorities so they can respond to evidence on travel patterns, pinch points and when / where traffic is moving slowly.
- Encouraging more private vehicles to be used for public good. If private vehicles are shared, then fewer cars are needed as resources are more efficiently used. There are individual benefits for the user on cost and for wider society through reduced environmental impact. Vehicles now need the inbuilt capability to be shared (e.g. remote locking systems). Boundaries around public and private are currently precise but in future there will be more overlap and legislation will need to reflect this.
The CBI continues to engage with government on the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge and your views are important in shaping our message. Getting the right balance between driving progression on reduced emissions and being well placed for the future, whilst ensuring business remains competitive is essential. Government and business must work together to succeed.