Monday 25 October, 5.45pm until 7.30pm, Blackwell Bookshop, Precinct Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9RN
Venue: Blackwell Bookshop, Precinct Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9RN
This event will take place in the discussion area of Blackwell Bookshop. Please arrive before 5:45pm for a light buffet reception and a 6:00pm start - expected to finish at 7:30pm.
‘There is no Plan B, which is why we will have to have a period of reflection.’ So said Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester’s city council, when Mancunians roundly rejected a new transport plan in 2008. The plan would have made £3billion of funding available for transport improvements, much of it borrowed against future revenue from a proposed rush-hour congestion charge. The voters of Manchester, it appeared, were in no mood to foot the bill for improvements through a tax on driving. Changing transport systems is rarely a straightforward process, given that they are complicated, and engineers are typically locked into an infrastructure designed for a previous age – not to mention the additional pressure today of public spending cuts. Proponents of the Manchester transport plan claimed the city has the slowest-moving traffic in England. In built-up areas, there is clearly a limit to how many extra roads can be built. Many agree that public transport services need to become more frequent, less crowded and more reliable. And that means spending money. While nobody likes paying higher fares or more tax, that may be just the kind of uncomfortable choice that needs to be made.
On top of concerns about congestion and worries about safety, changing cultural attitudes mean that for many mobility itself is no longer an unquestioned good: cars are frowned upon, aviation deemed too carbon intensive, trains too expensive, and space travel simply pointless. We are urged to consider alternatives: whether it is restricting car use in favour of cycling or reducing unnecessary journeys through stay-at-home tele-conferencing. Local government supports car pooling schemes and energy-efficient transport. The idea of environmental taxes to fund new infrastructure and penalise transport use has widespread support.
Should politicians be unashamed about arguing for the funding required to make travel easier if that is what the voters want? Or do they, and we all, have a responsibility to curb our enthusiasm for rapid transport: in the interests of both the environment and just slowing down the pace of life a little? The technology now exists to make what were once the dreams of science fiction a reality: jet-packs; hydrogen powered cars; Maglev public transport; and automated highways. Yet we have much more modest transport ambitions today, in which high-speed rail links come only slowly and at the expense of new runways. What future for transport in the 21st century?
|Michelle Di Leo|
director, FlyingMatters, the national campaign for flying
principal policy advisor, Institution of Engineering and Technology
associate professor in architecture, XJTLU University, Suzhou, China; director, Future Cities Project; convenor, Bookshop Barnies; founding member of New Narratives
principal consultant, Atkins; chair, Manchester Institute of Engineering and Technology Transport Interest Group
Further, faster, cheaper, better – ever since the invention of the wheel, human progress can be measured by increases in the speed, affordability and ease of mobilityPhilippe Legrain, Independent, 8 October 2010
Transportation's impact on the planet is well documented - and even contested by some. Louise Smythe speaks with the industry's practitioners hoping today's intelligent technologies will contribute to a cleaner environment tomorrowLouise Smythe, Traffic Technology International, September 2010
Across the developed world and beyond, the phenomenon of the phantom traffic jam will have disrupted many long road journeys to and from holiday destinations this month. The way this stop-go wave, which brings with it frustration for everyone from private motorists to freight hauliers, can form out of nothing is becoming one main subject of investigation by the growing band of scientists and engineers who study traffic dynamics in the hope of easing the way goods and people get around.Clive Cookson, Financial Times, 19 August 2010
The issues behind transport policy and technology and their unintended consequences.Institution of Engineering and Technology, 1 August 2010
When cyclists are continually told that their mode of transport is saving humanity from doom, it’s no wonder so many of them are annoying pricks.Brendan O'Neill, spiked, 23 July 2010
China has announced plans to build 42 new high-speed railway lines over the next three years.Shirong Chen, BBC, 10 September 2009