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The great 2021 pothole backfill begins

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Councils across England have been allocated their share of £500 million for highways maintenance, with the funding expected to fix the equivalent of 10 million potholes across the country.

It is the second of 5 equal instalments from the £2.5 billion Potholes Fund, providing £500 million a year between 2020/21 and 2024/25, announced by the Chancellor in the 2020 Budget – and is part of wider funding the DfTprovides for road maintenance, totalling over £1.1 billion across England in 2021/22.

With the average pothole costing around £50 to fill in, the funding will ensure that the equivalent of 10 million potholes can be rectified, making thousands of local roads both safer and easier to drive and cycle on.

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: “We know potholes are more than just a nuisance – they can be dangerous to drivers and cyclists alike, and cause damage to thousands of vehicles every year.

“The funding allocated today will help councils ensure roads in their area are kept up to standard, and that the potholes that blight road users can be dealt with promptly.”

The DfT claims it has already invested heavily in pothole filling since 2015, including the £296 million Pothole Action Fund, which ran from 2015/16 to 2020/21. It also topped up highway maintenance investment in 2018 with a one-off £420 million boost to all highway authorities in England, including London.

The government says it’s committed to supporting motorists through schemes like the Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2), investing £27 billion in the biggest ever roads programme – with £10 billion of the record-breaking sum specifically for road maintenance, operations and renewals.

Government drive to simplify EV charging network to combat ‘range anxiety’

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Small businesses and those in leasehold and rented accommodation are set to benefit from up to £50 million to install electric vehicle chargepoints.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which provides up to £350 towards a chargepoint, will continue next year and be expanded to target people in rented and leasehold accommodation.

At the same time, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) will be opened up to small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and the charity sector, providing a boost as staff return to work. The changes will also mean that small accommodation businesses, such as B&Bs can benefit from the funding, boosting rural areas, and tackling the ‘range anxiety’ associated with long journeys.

This investment comes as the department launches a consultation on improving the charging experience – simplifying payments and increasing reliability – which it says takes the country a step closer to delivering on the commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “Whether you’re on the school run or travelling to work, or don’t have access to a private parking space, today’s announcement will bring us one step closer to building and operating a public chargepoint network that is affordable, reliable and accessible for all drivers.

“As the UK accelerates towards net-zero emissions by 2050, we are determined to deliver a world-leading electric vehicle charging network, as we build back greener and support economic growth across the country.”

The consultation suggests simplifying payment at chargepoints, meaning electric vehicle drivers can use contactless payment but do not have to download an app. It also seeks to make chargepoints more reliable and to force operators to provide a 24/7 call helpline for drivers.

Drivers should also be able to find and access chargepoints easily, so the government is proposing that operators should make location data, power rating and price information more accessible for drivers. This it says is essential for ensuring costs are fair, for driving competition, and for increasing the confidence of both existing electric vehicle drivers and those considering making the switch.

The government says its proposals will ensure that it’s as easy – or even easier – for drivers to charge their car as it is to refuel a petrol or diesel vehicle.

The new investment follows £20 million in funding announced last week for councils to improve the on-street charging infrastructure in their local areas.

CEO of Co Charger, Joel Teague, said: “From a Co Charger point of view, this announcement is particularly welcome because it will put more chargepoints into homes and businesses where they can be shared with their neighbourhoods. Dependable, affordable charging while at home or work is essential for people to make the switch to electric motoring, and by sharing these newly funded chargepoints communities will be able to meet that need.”

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair, Mike Cherry, said: “It’s great to see the Department for Transport putting businesses front and centre as part of the UK’s mission to achieve net-zero by 2050.

“Small businesses want to play a critical role in helping the UK reach its green targets, and electric vehicles are the future. That’s why this is important news for the nation, particularly rural areas which are often left behind.”

Government to open 45 ‘Information & Advice’ sites for hauliers

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By Department for Transport

We’re approaching the end of the Transition Period and there will be important changes to border and traffic management arrangements. The UK Government is working hard to make sure commercial drivers and hauliers are prepared for the changes at the end of the year. 

We’re opening more than 40 ‘Information and Advice Sites’ across the UK at key locations on the road network. Five test sites will open at the start of November with the other 40 sites opening in mid-November. 

Staff at the sites will be able to discuss these changes, provide training on new IT systems, and explain how hauliers can best prepare for the end of the year. Support will also be available to commercial drivers in a range of languages as well as materials that can be downloaded digitally in 14 languages.  

The sites will be COVID secure and there will also be a dedicated online haulier portal to make sure drivers and haulier managers have access to all information and 1-1 support they might need. 

Keep an eye on the news section of www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-transport in the coming weeks for further details on the sites.

Urban Transport Group makes priorities clear to new Chancellor

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The Urban Transport Group has welcomed the appointment of Sajid Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer by setting out its priorities for urban transport in the Government’s forthcoming Spending Review.

In its submission to the Spending Review, which accompanies a letter to the Chancellor, the Urban Transport Group stresses the need:

  • to replace ad hoc short term competition funding with a stable capital and revenue funding stream for local transport, to bring it in line with the long term funding programmes for national transport infrastructure;
  • for a new and enhanced funding deal for buses to stem year-on-year decline in bus use and in recognition of the exceptional value for money that supporting bus services provides;
  • for conditions to be attached to any additional funding for health in order to achieve greater coordination of the policies of the NHS with the goals of urban transport authorities, such as reducing congestion, improving public health, reducing road accidents, improving air quality and cutting carbon emissions.

Stephen Edwards, Chair of the Urban Transport Group and Executive Director of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, said: “To deliver on their potential, city regions need efficient and effective local transport networks, as well as good connectivity with each other. There are also the pressing and complex challenges of meeting net zero targets for greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and harnessing the benefits of new technologies.

“To achieve these goals we need to put local transport funding on a proper long term footing. This will enable us to plan ahead and recruit and retain the right skills so that we can deliver improvements to urban transport networks in a rapid and cost effective way.”

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

‘Terrible’ road conditions & congestion top fleet manager concerns

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Fleet and mobility managers want the Government to tackle terrible road conditions and congestion.

That’s according to research from Arval, which revealed that of nearly 4,000 fleet mangers polled, over half the respondents (54 per cent) said that they wanted to see better roads, with 47 per cent asking for a solution to congestion.

30 per cent of those polled supported incentivising companies to adopt newer fuel options such as electric and hydrogen and improving public transport (22 percent).
 
18 per cent of fleet and mobility managers also believe that Government should be doing more to reduce pollution caused by road transport.
 
The findings come from the 2019 edition of Arval Mobility Observatory, research which covers 3,930 fleets and asks a wide ranging set of questions about fleet and mobility trends.
 
Shaun Sadlier, Head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK, said: “The striking aspect about the areas highlighted by fleet and mobility managers is that they are all highly practical issues that affect the running of business transport on a day-to-day basis.
 
“The condition of roads and the problem of congestion are a concern because they affect the core efficiency of company transport. Businesses want journeys to be predictable and safe, and poor roads and large volumes of traffic have a negative effect on this aim.
 
“It is also striking the extent to which there is a desire to see Government make the adoption of EVs and hydrogen vehicles easier. There is clearly growing enthusiasm among businesses for these cars and vans, but also an awareness of the need to make their cost and the level of infrastructure support more appealing.
 
“Linked to the adoption of zero-emissions fuels is the belief that more should be being done to tackle road transport-based pollution. Our experience is that businesses are almost always supportive of Government moves to make improvements in this area.
 
“Finally, some people may think it surprising that fleet and mobility managers want to see better public transport but the strategic developments we are seeing in this area show that businesses see the future of travel as being one where cars and vans are used alongside a range of other options. Better trains, trams and buses should form a key part of this mix if possible.”

Image by shilin wang from Pixabay

Government wants all new rapid chargepoints to offer card payment by 2020

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The government wants to see all newly-installed rapid and higher powered chargepoints to provide debit or credit card payment by spring 2020.

One year since the launch of its Road to Zero Strategy, the government has signalled it expects industry to develop a roaming solution across the charging network, allowing electric vehicle drivers to use any public chargepoint through a single payment method without needing multiple smartphone apps or membership cards.

To date, government and industry have supported the installation of over 20,000 publicly accessible chargepoints in the UK, including more than 2,000 rapid devices, making it one of the largest charging networks in Europe. There are now more locations where you can charge your car than there are petrol stations, with almost every motorway service area having at least one rapid chargepoint.

To increase confidence in the charging network and reduce range anxiety the government says it’s working with industry to make chargepoint data freely available, helping drivers easily locate and access available chargepoints.

Future of Mobility Minister, Michael Ellis, said: “The government’s vision is for the UK to have one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world, but we know the variety of payment methods at the moment is a source of frustration for drivers.

“It is crucial there are easy payment methods available to improve electric vehicle drivers’ experiences and give drivers choice. This will help even more people enjoy the benefits electric vehicles bring and speed up our journey to a zero-emission future.”

Business and Industry Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “Initiatives like this are essential as we move towards a net zero economy, making it easier than ever for people to own and use electric vehicles.

“Investing in batteries, technology and infrastructure through our modern Industrial Strategy and Faraday battery challenge will ensure the UK leads the world in the global transition away from fossil fuels while supporting the future of our automotive industry.”

The announcement comes as BP Chargemaster, the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, has taken what it says is a major step forward for industry by committing to introducing card payment on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers. It will also retrofit its existing UK-made rapid chargers with the technology over the next 12 months.

David Newton, CEO at BP Chargemaster, said: “As the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, including the greatest number of rapid chargers, we support the government’s vision for all new rapid and ultra-fast chargers to support contactless bank card payment.

“We will be going one step further, not only by introducing this facility on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers from today, but also by committing to retrofit our existing UK-made rapid chargers with this technology over the next 12 months.”

The move follows the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that the government wants to see the development of a high speed electric vehicle charging infrastructure nationally; with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to lead a review on the vision for the network.

The government has made clear that if the market is too slow to deliver improvements across the entire network it is prepared to intervene to ensure a good deal for consumers by using powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act.

Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

New low emissions buses as part of £48m investment

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Communities across the UK stand to benefit from greener journeys with the introduction of 263 new low emission buses on certain routes.

A £48 million investment from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles will fund green vehicles and infrastructure to drive forward government plans to clean up the air in towns and cities.

Speaking at the UK Bus Summit, Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani also announced a new partnership with Greener Journeys to reflect the ‘pivotal role’ played by the bus industry in tackling loneliness and social isolation.

The partnership will see companies across the sector pledge to tackle loneliness, including through innovative vehicle design and initiatives to encourage bus passengers to talk to each other.

Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Buses are far more than a way of getting from A to B. They are a crucial tool in the fight against loneliness and it is good to see the industry taking steps to tackle isolation.

“This government is doing more than ever before to reduce emissions across all modes of transport and I’m delighted to see the bus industry putting itself at the forefront of this.

Nineteen successful bidders across England and Wales will receive funding to purchase new low emission buses and supporting infrastructure, such as charge points.

The fundings is part of the government’s £1.5 billion Road to Zero strategy published last year.

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive, Greener Journeys, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the government to tackle the epidemic of loneliness affecting millions of people in the UK. Research from Greener Journeys shows that a third of people in Britain go at least a day a week without speaking to anyone – not a friend, colleague or family member.

“Buses play a vital role in facilitating social connections among the most vulnerable people, who rely on them to take them to visit friends and family. It’s fantastic to see the industry come together to launch such a brilliant range of initiatives to address the problem of loneliness.”