Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by The Intelligent Transport Society of the United Kingdom (WTC 43)



  The Intelligent Transport Society of the United Kingdom is a not for profit association devoted to the promotion of all forms of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) to address the challenges facing transport in the United Kingdom. ITS is the application of Information Technology and Communcactions to all modes of surface transport and includes such systems as traffic conrol and signalling, route guidance to mobile platforms, incident alerts to vehicles, passenger information systems for public transport, a range of in-vehicle safety systems and all forms of information systems both infrastructure and mobile based.

  Members of ITS United Kingdom comprise some 100 corporate organisations drawn from public and private sectors and our membership cover the whole range of interest in transport. These members include network operators, public transport service providers, vehicle and equipment manufacturers and consultants in addition to local and national government bodies.

  This submission is made to show the assistance ITS can provide to pedestrians and other travellers in town and cities in the belief that this will promote the use of walking as a primary and secondary mode of transport. The submission addresses each of the items set out in the Press Notice No 62 of Session 1999-2000 dated 2 November 2000 and is set out in that order for ease of reference.


  Walking is an essential part of nearly every journey, particularly those starting or ending in an urban environment. It is also recognised that cars are used for many short journeys under one mile in length where walking is a practical alternative for the complete journey for many people. The reasons for the use of cars are many and varied, but walking can be encouraged if it is preceived as safe and convenient. For example, the provision of safe crossing facilities, such as that provided by Pelican Crossings (a good example of ITS) is important and the environment through which the pedestrian passes must appear to be clean and attractive. It is ironic that the increased use of vehicles produces a feeling of danger and pollution for pedestrians walking alongside main roads and this tends to reduce further the numbers of pedestrians. Nevertheless, walking still contributes to the urban transport needs and should be valued as a transport mode in its own right. ITS can improve the environment by increasing actual and preceived safety and providing information about the alternative to car usage.


  As more people use cars, the facilities for walkers tend to be less well used in and in some cases become unknown to large portions of the population. This lack of knowledge of the routes and facilities available contribute still further to the decline. Information about walking routes should be widely available and particularly walking routes associated with public transport facilities to demonstrate the facilities that are available. ITS can deliver accurate and up to date information about walking routes and also provide real time information about public transport to the home, office and mobile environment. This can be provided via conventional printed means and also via modern Internet based systems. This will encourage the use of walking.


  Safety and security are vital measures that need to be addressed. Much progress has been made with the installation of ITS systems such as Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) to monitor pedestrian areas. In addition, in-vehicle systems are being developed to alert drivers to the vicinity of pedestrians and this can be a valuable additional safety feature, particularly where the presence of pedestrians is not expected or where the physical layout of the road is such that pedestrians cannot be easily seen. Although the separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic has some attractions, it can lead to areas that appear to be dangerous, particularly for lone travellers after dark, and such separation should be treated with caution.

  ITS has a significant role to play in the provision of fully mobile information systems. These are expected to become as commonplace as mobile telephones in the next few years and will have the potential to provide accurate real time information to travellers across all modes, including walking. The PTI 2000 project to provide a national information source for all public transport services is a good example of ITS systems that can encourage the use of non-car modes of transport. Thus the need to travel by car because that is the only mode known and understood by the traveller can be challenged and information about public transport and walking routes made available to the travellers in much the same way that A to Z directories are currently used for location finding. This information will become available to mobile users when WAP and third generation mobile phones become commonplace.


  There are a number of towns and cities with good public transport information systems in use and being extended. The experience of these towns in the encouragement of non-car based transport modes is valuable. These examples need to be widely publicised and funds made available for other towns and cities to install similar systems. It must be recognised that the promotion of walking as a transport mode will normally go hand in hand with the promotion of public transport. However, in some locations it may be preferable to encourage "park & ride" activities with good pedestrian access to and from conveniently located car parks which are linked by park & ride facilities so that travellers wishing to visit a number of locations in the city can do so without needing to return to their vehicles to move to their next destination. E-commerce may also have an important role to play in shopping trips if developments in this area mean that it is normal for goods to be delivered to the house and there is much less need to carry goods home from the shops. This means that the need to take a car on shopping trips is less because the need to carry bulky goods home is reduced or eliminated.


  It is acknowledged that skill shortages are growing in the information technology and communication areas. This will have a significant impact on the take up of ITS and similar systems that could be used to benefit walkers. Many engineers and senior operational staff in transport have little or no understanding of the role that accurate and up to date real time information could play in the provision of good transport services. This needs to be addressed by training so that the value of ITS is better understood and the contribution that it can make, particularly to public transport and non-vehicle transport modes is recognised.


  The provision of a 10 year transport plan by DETR is a valuable and welcome step. We must recognise that ITS technology is changing very rapidly. It is likely that this technology will be unrecognisable in 10 years time and the potential contribution from ITS is likely to increase dramatically within that timescale. Therefore it is right to place emphasis on short-term plans with a commitment to continue into the longer term. It is nevertheless important to have a sound vision for the future direction and development of technology and particularly to set up standards so that full interoperability between systems in different cities is available. Effort must be directed towards standards in the area of new technology. It should be noted that smart card technology would provide the ability to provide a common ticketing and payment method for all modes, thus removing one obstacle to easy use of public transport by travellers not familiar with public transport networks. The legislation to enable the development of e-money and use of technology in this area is important, particularly where competition law appears to be in conflict with the desire to provide integrated transport services and ticketing. It should be noted that Singapore have recently announced their intention to make such systems a mandatory option for all transactions by 2008. The UK will need legislation to enable such systems to be introduced and this must be considered as a matter of urgency.


  Care must be taken to ensure that the widest possible picture is taken into account when setting priorities. For example, it must not be assumed that public transport is necessarily always less polluting than private transport or that electric vehicles are non-polluting. Public transport will be less polluting when a reasonable passenger load is carried, but changes in vehicle technology are reducing the emissions from cars significantly and this trend is set to continue. Pollution, in all its forms, including electricity generation, should become a primary consideration for all transport proposals in addition to the existing safety and efficient criteria, as transport is now the major contributor to greenhouse gases in many countries. This may lead to unexpected reallocation of road space priorities. Information is vital to this task and information on the effects of choices on pollution and safety should be made widely available. ITS can assist in this task by informing users of the effects of their choices and also be providing monitoring systems to enable network operators to monitor and alleviate the effects of traffic.


  It is always helpful to be able to set targets for any proposal and then monitor the progress towards such targets. This encourages those working to improve the situation and gives an objective measure of the success, or otherwise, of their efforts. Targets should be set, but this will need considerable effort to gain consensus about the priorities to be selected. It must be borne in mind that freedom to travel is rightly and highly valued by society and any proposals in this area must have at their heart the desire to achieve easy and affordable mobility for all. It is vital that the effects of choices of transport mode on all aspects of the environment, including mobility of others should be freely available. Congestion on all transport networks is a serious economic and social cost. The cost of each additional passenger on public transport in terms of overcrowding or the cost of delay to others of each addition car (or bus) journey must be made clear. ITS can assist in getting this message across and measuring the effects of such choices.


  Information about the effects of transport choices is the key to changing the attitudes of the public to consider more environmentally friendly modes of transport. ITS can provide this information in many different forms and it is important that all concerned are made fully aware of the potential that these systems are likely to provide in the near future. This information will be available on mobile platforms in addition to home and office based systems. We would urge that information be included within all transport plans and proposals.

D J Clowes
Secretary General

21 December 2000

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