Transport: Coronavirus

Department for Transport written question – answered at on 26 January 2021.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reduce the levels of (1) personal, and (2) commercial, vehicle transportation on the roads following the COVID-19 pandemic; and if so, (a) to what level they plan to, and (b) how they intend to, reduce such activity.

Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

In response to lockdown measures implemented by the Government, demand for all modes of transport, including road usage, has fallen. My Department regularly publishes statistics on this subject, which are available on the website (“Transport use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”).

Transport will play a key role in recovery from Covid-19, and there is opportunity to build upon some of the behavioural changes which have been evident, such as an increase in active travel. In addition, my Department remains committed to the achievement of longer-term strategic objectives, publishing three Priority Outcomes as part of Spending Review 2020. One of our Priority Outcomes is to tackle climate change and improve air quality through the decarbonisation of transport. Cars and vans alone accounted for a fifth of the UK’s total domestic greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

We are continuing to assess what needs to be done to decarbonise our transport system, of which road transport represents one of the highest emitting elements. Road transport will continue to play a key role in allowing people and goods to move efficiently around the country, but to support the Government’s aim to build back better we have already announced significant measures relating to road transport. These include:

  • seeking to reduce the use of petrol and diesel vehicles on our roads as part of our commitment to reducing carbon emissions in line with the Government’s Net Zero ambitions and to support the end in sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. DfT is investing £1.9 billion through the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and grants for zero and ultra-low emission vehicles.
  • consulting on a date for phasing out the sale of new diesel heavy goods vehicles (HGVs.) We will invest £20 million next year in freight trials to pioneer hydrogen and other zero emission lorries, to support industry to develop cost-effective, zero-emission HGVs in the UK.

Further details of these plans for decarbonising cars and freight will form part of Department’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, to be published later this year. The plan will set out in detail what Government, business and society will need to do to put us on a pathway to achieving carbon budgets and net-zero emissions by 2050.

We are also seeking to develop measures to encourage changes in the way we travel following the end of Covid restrictions, such as through increasing levels of walking and cycling and ensuring a reliable and safe public transport network. This includes:

  • Spending £300 million over the next financial year to drive forward transformation of bus services, together with £120 million for Zero Emission Buses.
  • Implementing the England’s first-ever long-term National Bus Strategy, to be launched in the coming months. The strategy will seek to support the bus sector in the provision of the right accessible services for people and communities, in ways that meet their needs and provide positive encouragement to use the bus instead of the car.
  • £257 million announced at the recent Spending Review to support the Prime Minister’s cycling and walking plan, including behavioural change measures and investing in cycling & walking infrastructure.

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