Transport User Voice – February 2021 – Chief executive’s editorial

28 January 2021

What do you think we should work on now?

Looking back at last ten months we can see some lessons we have learnt for 2021. Planning in such an uncertain environment seems a little tricky right now. The different scenarios facing the country seem to range from lockdowns and restrictions going on for months to a point where vaccines mean travel can restart. The reality will probably be somewhere in the middle – a messy period of vaccines, variants and false alerts and starts. What should Transport Focus plan to do in this time?

Some things seem relatively certain. The way we move around has probably changed forever. More working at home for some, less commuting. But we do not know how much it has changed and we won’t for some time. However, some people still need to travel. We need to carry on talking to them about their experiences and representing their interests. As travel does reopen there will key issues around confidence in using public transport and lowering the barriers through ticket retail reform to get people back on board when the time is right. Road travel will continue to grow back so our work with Highways England will still be relevant and will continue.

Also, while the Covid crisis will hopefully pass the climate crisis won’t. Transport Focus has traditionally focused on making rail and bus transport a better and more sustainable choice as a way of helping people onto public transport. However, maybe the time is right for us to look more at ‘nudge’ techniques, so widely used in Government messaging recently, to see if simple changes can help more people choose public transport. Also, while electric car take-up is slowly spreading, price and ‘range anxiety’ continue to be issues. We are considering looking at the consumer experience of electric vehicle charging on the Strategic Road Network.

Meanwhile we will continue our now fortnightly omnibus surveys of experiences and attitudes to travel. Our online communities will keep going and we plan to expand the usefulness and size of our Transport User Panel. We are working on new surveys for bus and rail users later in the year – more digital, always on, quicker and representative enough.

Are these the right things for us to focus on? Do you have other ideas? Tell me:

To get you started you can also find a neat summary of all we achieved for transport users throughout last year in the latest episode of our podcast, Transport in Focus. We take a look back on the successes we had and speak to the people who helped.

Stay safe.


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