19th Sep, 2021

Planes, trains and automobiles - working out the future of transport during Coventry's Big Tent Ideas Festival

THE FUTURE of Transport – Trains, Planes and Automobiles – was one of the big issues discussed at the Big Tent Ideas Festival.

Conservative George Freeman MP, Labour’s Coun Jim O’Boyle, Liberal Democrat Baroness Barker and the Green Party’s Steve Caudwell were among those on the panel.

Coun O’Boyle spoke about all the new transport technologies coming to Coventry, including it becoming the UK’s first ever all-electric bus city – by 2025 all of Coventry’s 297 buses would be electric – and the very light rail system which would provide a ‘hop on, hop off’ service that was a fifth of the price of the Midland Metro.

The council, he said, operated a ‘try before you buy’ electric vehicle scheme so firms could see the advantages of having a modern battery-operated fleet, and Coventry also had e-scooters and the West Midlands Cycle Hire.

He also cited the world’s first electric ‘Urban Air Port’ which we reported on back in January.

That will see air taxis and autonomous delivery drones transport people and cargo across cities in the coming years.

And he reiterated the need for the Coventry to get its gigafactory to protect jobs in the automotive industry and bring thousands of new ones.

Mr Caudwell said, even with electric vehicles (EV), there were too many cars and not enough space so EVs were not the solution – people had to ditch their cars but to do that, they had to be offered a viable alternative.

“Decisions have to be taken with them, not to them.”

Baroness Barker said transport was about enabling people to move between places for social and economic purposes.

She added three aspects determined which transport options people chose – convenience, access and safety and it was about giving people different choices that were the most convenient for them.

Mr Freman said transport was all about getting from one place to another and, while the Government should sort out major national projects, such as motorways, issues affecting towns and cities needed to be addressed at a local level.

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