The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced £2bn worth of funding to make a “once in a generation change” to the transport network in the UK.
The money will go towards improving the infrastructure for walking and cycling, a £10m investment in electric car charging points and the rollout of e-scooter trials being brought forward. In the near future, local authorities are to be encouraged to explore the possibilities for pop-up cycle paths and cycle and bus-only streets.
The announcement comes amid the Coronavirus pandemic, which has meant we all need to follow strict social distancing guidelines. According to Mr Shapps, even if the UK transport network was running at full capacity, only one in 10 passengers could travel, due to social distancing.
When lockdown measures are eased, it is expected that many people will continue to be advised to work from home. Those who can cycle or walk to work will be urged to do so, meaning that those that have no option but to use public transport will have more of a chance of being able to do so safely.
Speaking at Downing Street’s daily Coronavirus press conference on Saturday, Mr Shapps said the government was planning a scheme to ‘get Britain moving safely again’. He said;
“Preventing overcrowding, which could lead to a second spike and more deaths, will be the responsibility of each and every one of us.
“So please, only travel when you need to, be considerate to others, and help prioritise essential workers.
“Let’s all play our part in ensuring that we’re able to get Britain moving safely again, when that time comes.”
The measures announced are largely designed to help ease congestion following the Coronavirus lockdown, but if successful, they could also play a key part in the UK reducing its impact on the environment.
Emissions and pollution levels have fallen during the Coronavirus pandemic due to less use of transport, in particular cars and vans. The UK government has said it will ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars in the UK from 2035.
More details about the new transport plans are expected to be announced in due course, including by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday evening when he is expected to announce the outcome of the government’s latest review of lockdown measures.