Stepping up to the government's new infrastructure plans
Pictured: Eco bus serving Milton Keynes in 2019
Following the UK government's announcement at the recent Conservative party conference on a new push around infrastructure, we have been speaking with one of the most forwarding thinking councils outside London - Milton Keynes - to gauge how realistic some of the government's plans look for local authorities.
The Chancellor Sajid Javid announced that he will renew a pledge of £220 million to improve bus services in England. He has set a goal for contactless payments to be made available on every city bus. Plans for so-called superbus networks where local authorities will invest in bus lanes in exchange for more services from operators, will also be announced. A pilot is planned for Cornwall in 2020.
The UK government also announced it was keen to create the first all-electric bus town or city, but what are the challenges in doing this and should this be an appropriate focus when there are other competing mobility issues within cities to tackle?
Milton Keynes Council has been one of the first local authorities to pioneer the use of electric vehicles and has the ambition to become the greenest in the UK. It is at the forefront of technology and innovation with smart, shared and sustainable mobility, part of its wider transport vision which Milton Keynes wants to become a reality. It is a pilot authority within the government's Connected Autonomous Vehicle initiative (C-CAV) and the council is the leading provider outside London for electric vehicle charge points.
Steve Hayes, Head of Transport, at the council, explained to us that although more information was needed from government to flesh out the planned ambition around all-electric bus cities, Milton Keynes Council might find it very difficult to achieve an all-electric bus environment. He explained: