Transport and Mobility

Opportunities in Low Emission Transport and Mobility

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In February, Cynnal Cymru worked in partnership with Jacobs to deliver two major events for the Welsh Government. The objective of these Welsh Government funded events was to enable and motivate public sector professionals to speed up the transition to a low carbon, low emission transport system in Wales, with a particular focus on road transport and alternatives to private car ownership.

Delegates received information on SMART and vehicle technology, sources of funding, and examples that show how action can be taken that benefits the organisation, citizens, the local economy, and the environment.

A mixture of presentations, displays, demonstrations and surgeries enabled public sector professionals to learn from peers, industry, advisory organisations, government, and social enterprises.

The good news is that many of our public bodies in Wales are ambitious to decarbonise their own transport assets and want to help others to do so. Some, like Swansea Council, have moved beyond aspiration and are already running ultra-low emission vehicles. The technology is available and the whole life costs are persuasive. Electric, hydrogen and bio-gas options are available for public bodies but they were cautioned by experts to take time, do the research, analyse current service delivery before making any decisions. The right vehicle and the right power source needs to be chosen to fit the job. Effort needs to be made to ensure staff understand how to operate the new technology and are ready to embrace change.

The conferences also addressed the issues of public transport and equality of opportunity. Neil Lewis used the occasion of the Cardiff conference to announce that partners within Community Energy Wales are launching a co-operative to ensure that a network of chargers are established across Wales that will bring revenue to communities and make use of local renewable energy sources, where available.

Evidence was presented that experiences of electric vehicles in the work place have the potential to make it six times more likely that people will switch to electric for private domestic use. A wide range of funds are available for home-based charging and for electrifying public transport. Cardiff for example will benefit from 36 new electric buses that were purchased through UK government funding.

We also heard a persuasive argument in favour of compressed natural bio-gas as a fuel. This still produces greenhouse gasses but the amounts are less than fossil fuels and as the gas (methane) is derived from waste, it is part of a shorter term carbon cycle and not adding geological carbon to the atmosphere.

In addition to speakers and workshops, there were also vehicles on display and available for test drives. Both the Wrexham and Cardiff events had a real buzz about them and people were vigorously discussing practical options for removing fossil fuels from public transport, fleet and service vehicles as well as new models to reduce the reliance on the private car for commuting and business trips.[:]

Opportunities in Low Carbon Transport

In February 2019, Cynnal Cymru worked in partnership with Jacobs to deliver two major events for the Welsh Government. The objective of these Welsh Government funded events was to enable and motivate public sector professionals to speed up the transition to a low carbon, low emission transport system in Wales, with a particular focus on road transport and alternatives to private car ownership.

Delegates received information on SMART and vehicle technology, sources of funding, and examples that show how action can be taken that benefits the organisation, citizens, the local economy, and the environment.

A mixture of presentations, displays, demonstrations and surgeries enabled public sector professionals to learn from peers, industry, advisory organisations, government, and social enterprises.

The good news is that many of our public bodies in Wales are ambitious to decarbonise their own transport assets and want to help others to do so. Some, like Swansea Council, have moved beyond aspiration and are already running ultra-low emission vehicles. The technology is available and the whole life costs are persuasive. Electric, hydrogen and bio-gas options are available for public bodies but they were cautioned by experts to take time, do the research, analyse current service delivery before making any decisions. The right vehicle and the right power source needs to be chosen to fit the job. Effort needs to be made to ensure staff understand how to operate the new technology and are ready to embrace change.

The conferences also addressed the issues of public transport and equality of opportunity. Neil Lewis used the occasion of the Cardiff conference to announce that partners within Community Energy Wales are launching a co-operative to ensure that a network of chargers are established across Wales that will bring revenue to communities and make use of local renewable energy sources, where available.

Evidence was presented that experiences of electric vehicles in the workplace have the potential to make it six times more likely that people will switch to electric for private domestic use. A wide range of funds are available for home-based charging and for electrifying public transport. Cardiff for example will benefit from 36 new electric buses that were purchased through UK government funding.

We also heard a persuasive argument in favour of compressed natural bio-gas as a fuel. This still produces greenhouse gases but the amounts are less than fossil fuels and as the gas (methane) is derived from waste, it is part of a shorter term carbon cycle and not adding geological carbon to the atmosphere.

In addition to speakers and workshops, there were also vehicles on display and available for test drives. Both the Wrexham and Cardiff events had a real buzz about them and people were vigorously discussing practical options for removing fossil fuels from public transport, fleet and service vehicles as well as new models to reduce the reliance on the private car for commuting and business trips.

In 2016 we held our first seminar on the future of the car. We followed this in 2017 with a specific focus on the future of the car in Cardiff and in 2018 with a major event that looked at the challenges facing Wales as a whole if it is to transition to an ultra-low emission transport economy.

Also in 2018 we supported the Green Fleet Cymru event.

We are continuing to work with Jacobs, Welsh Government and other partners to promote understanding of ultra-low emission transport and to catalyse action to develop the markets and infrastrucutre for electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles.

Our contribution to this process is to broker collaboration between the public sector, the automotive sector, energy suppliers and communities, and to support ever wider engagement and communication of the challenges and opportunities of ultra-low emission vehicles.

(Electric) Car Future Wales

In Wales, transport is a major (and growing) contributor to climate change. We need to clean up transport as fast as possible. BEIS figures for Wales (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 2017), show that transport accounted for around 25% of energy consumption in Wales during 2015 and 13% of all emissions. In the UK as a whole, BEIS data shows transport is responsible for about 26% of all emissions.

Decarbonising our transport sector is not only vital for the health of our planet, but also the well-being of citizens. Several areas in Wales suffer from dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution caused largely by road transport, with the most vulnerable in our society (including children and the elderly) particularly at risk. Air pollution contributes to around 2,000 deaths per year in Wales (6% of total deaths).

Electric vehicles (EVs) are part of the decarbonising solution but they still have pollution impacts. For example, a significant amount of particulate matter (airborne pollution particles) come from brake and tyre wear and EVs will contribute to this even though their direct emissions from fuel consumption are zero. There is also considerable embedded energy in the form of extracted minerals, steel, and plastic in each vehicle that needs to be recovered at the end of the vehicle’s working life. EVs can however make a significant contribution to lowering Wales’ carbon emissions, and improve air quality, if they are recharged from renewable energy sources.

Electric vehicles are not a panacea. Moving to a nation where ‘active travel’ is the default choice for all, followed by public transport, then shared mobility and finally, single occupancy car journeys, should be Wales’ main aim as this would deliver multiple benefits.

In a low carbon, healthier Wales, where there is greater equality of opportunity, EVs will be part of the transport mix, however. The growth in ownership of ultra-low emission vehicles in Wales currently lags behind other parts of the UK but is comparable to other rural and post-industrial areas. With any new technology, uptake is initially slow and a minority of enthusiastic pioneers struggle to operate it when there is minimal support infrastructure. This has certainly been true of the electric car in Wales. Owners of electric cars are motivated by a commitment to low carbon, or by possession of the means to make the technology pay (or both). It makes sense for example, for a family on higher than average income with cash to spare, living in a detached house with a drive, to put solar PV on the roof and a charge point on the drive. There is less motivation for anyone living in a terraced house with no means of installing an on-street charger, assuming they could afford the roof PV panels and higher upfront purchase/rental costs of the vehicle in the first place.

The Welsh Government has committed a small but significant sum of £2 million to enable a network of electric charging points along main roads throughout Wales. The focus of the £2 million is to help provide a charging network along/near Wales’ trunk road network. These include roads not registered as part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) – in other words, a more far-reaching impact. At Cynnal Cymru’s Car Futures Wales conference in February 2018, there was consensus that public money should be spent where it will produce a net economic benefit: a charging network should therefore support the Government’s aims on active travel, decarbonisation, health, and equality of opportunity. As a nation, we should see electric cars as one of many tools to help us deliver the Well-being Goals. In practice, this would mean public charging infrastructure at park and rides, hospitals, rail heads, and tourist destinations.

The recent Economic Action Plan committed to making all taxis and buses in Wales zero-carbon within 10 years. This is a great start, but, given the lower running costs of EVs, why not electrify the entire public sector fleet? This has the additional benefit of making people more familiar with EVs, and more likely to switch themselves. Swansea council has recently taken the plunge by purchasing 40 Peugeot electric vans and installing 18 charge points.

Mid and West Wales Fire Service has two hydrogen cars and twelve electric vehicles with seventeen charge points. They are working with Natural Resources Wales and others to share charging infrastructure. Such confident investment in low carbon transport is rare however. Local authorities have to make bolder decisions about electric vehicles and work with the Government or else Wales risks falling behind other parts of the UK as the economy transitions to an electric fleet.

Given the current financial constraints faced by local authorities, a council may wish to consider a variety of ways that it can support a transition to low carbon road transport. The following were suggested by delegates at the Car Futures Wales conference;

  • Congestion charges and differentiated road access: for example, EVs could be permitted to use bus lanes or introduce Low Emissions Zones where polluting vehicles would be banned or fined.
  • Workplace parking levies with concessions for ultra-low emission vehicles.
  • Building standards and planning: the Welsh Government/Councils could require all new housing developments and shopping centres to have EV charge points designed in.
  • Investment in charging infrastructure: this should focus on the current black spots in mid Wales which make traveling north-south very difficult. This could alleviate range anxiety.
  • The Scottish Government is introducing a special innovation fund, designed to find solutions to charging for people living in tenement blocks or high rises. Welsh Government needs to find a similar way to ensure people who live in terraces and flats are also supported to switch to EVs.
  • It also makes sense to install charge points at modal interchanges (e.g. train stations, park and rides) to connect with public transport.
  • Public charging bays are vulnerable to being blocked by vehicles that stay beyond the charge period, or even by non-electric vehicles using them as parking bays. We will need to create a new regime of by-laws, and evolve a new culture of road etiquette

Charging availability is likely to affect vehicle purchase decisions and could be a catalyst for a market change. Visible infrastructure also supports a wider debate around sustainability, air quality and decarbonisation. Many local authorities in the UK are currently grappling with the challenge of improving air quality through a charging system for access to urban centres. Providing free entry or similarly, free parking to EVs is a provocative statement. Ultimately however, no authority wants to replace congestion by one type of vehicle with congestion by another so such concessions to EVs are likely to be a short-term response to the specific issue of air quality. The IWA report “Decarbonising Transport in Wales” calls for a change in the culture of Wales and a move away from reliance on the car; although it accepts that electric cars will still have a role to play in rural communities where local, community-owned renewables could be linked to charging infrastructure. The report argues that reducing the numbers of cars on the road should be a priority for all levels of government.

Limits on residential charging infrastructure, EV congestion and the high up-front cost of ownership may slow the uptake of private electric cars in Wales even as legislation makes owning a fossil fuel vehicle more expensive. Mobility as a service may then become an increasingly attractive alternative. In this model, private citizens choose not to own a car but instead have a contract or service agreement with a supplier such as a car club or taxi on demand. There are signs that mobility as a service is growing in popularity in cities and amongst young adults. With its wealth of renewable energy sources and a modest growth in community-owned renewable energy supply, Wales has an opportunity to link the need for mobility to a social business model and the equality of opportunity this offers. Specifically, this means that communities that own their own energy supply could also operate a not-for-profit car club. This could prove significant in rural towns and villages if changes in urban centres, driven by the necessity to improve air quality, push the market against diesel and older petrol vehicles.

Energy suppliers such as SP Energy Networks (SPEN) caution that we need to think about new ways of storing and moving energy. They ask us to consider what would happen if every one of 1.4 million domestic customers in their region plugged in an electric vehicle when they got home from work. While this may seem far-fetched, the forecasted growth in global EV ownership has increased by 500% in one year. Addressing the Car Futures Wales conference in February 2018, Liam O’Sullivan, SP Energy Networks District Manager for North Wales, shared SPEN’s estimate that investment of between £300 million to £2.2 billion is required to facilitate a 100% EV uptake across the Scottish Power Manweb area, depending on which scenario becomes the reality.

Momentum is growing for a rapid decarbonisation of transport in Wales. From analysis by the IWA to an increasing frequency of events held by Cynnal Cymru, local government, The Automotive Forum and the Welsh Government, the message is clear: decarbonisation of transport is essential, possible, and replete with opportunity. On the 7th and 21st of February 2019, Jacobs, with the support of Cynnal Cymru will stage two major conferences for the public sector on behalf of the Welsh Government. At these events, we will dispel myths, provide details on funding, present examples of ‘how to do it’ and give public sector professionals the opportunity to learn from each other and make important connections with industry specialists. “Your next car will be electric,” is an increasingly used phrase but while we wait for the fruits of the collaboration between Transport For Wales and the new rail franchisee, and initiatives such as the Cardiff Council transport green paper, perhaps we should start using the phrase, “this is the last car I’ll own!”

Cardiff Council Transport and Clean Air Green Paper

From January to July 2018 we worked intensively with Cardiff Council on their Transport and Clean Air Green Paper. We were tasked with conducting research to inform the drafting of the paper, and helping with consultation once it was published.

Desk-top research looked at reports compiled within the last five years, emerging trends in transport, and the activity in other cities around the world. Seminars and conferences included Cynnal Cymru’s 2016 “Future Car:diff” event, “Car Futures Wales”, and the Innovate UK “Transport Challenges” workshop. Interviews took place with Innovate UK’s Transport Systems Catapult, Arup, Jacobs, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Living Streets, and Cardiff Civic Society.

As drafts progressed, a team of Council officers and Cynnal Cymru staff was formed under the leadership of Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Wild. This team began to blend existing Cardiff Council transport research and strategies with new information gleaned from the research. The team included representatives from the Transport department, Economic Development, City Services, Shared Regulatory Services, Research and Customer Services, Policy, and Operations, and was chaired by the Director of City Operations. The end result ensured innovative practices from other cities was combined with existing strategic and policy commitments and an awareness of emerging trends to meet the specific needs of Cardiff.

Following publication, we worked with the Transport Team, Customer Services, The Cardiff Research Centre and FOR Cardiff to undertake a variety of consultations events and communications. These included an event for businesses and targeted engagement of specific locations.

Developing a sustainable transport approach for Cardiff

We have been very pleased to have been of service to Cardiff Council this year and have learned a great deal from the work, helping us to hone our skills and broaden our knowledge.

In February 2018 we facilitated a workshop for stakeholders of the Council’s transport team. They needed to consult with city centre businesses and citizen’s groups on proposed changes to the street scene and traffic flow in central Cardiff.

We helped our client develop a workshop approach to obtain the information they required, promoted the event to targeted individuals and organisations, and managed the task groups and discussions during the three hour long session in Cardiff’s Central Library. The team took the data gathered to help them design costed project work and reported that they were very happy with the level of stakeholder engagement, the workshop process and our management of time and discussion.

From January to July we have been working intensively with the Council on their Transport and Clean Air Green Paper. We were tasked with conducting research to inform the drafting of the paper, and helping with consultation once it was published.

Desk-top research looked at reports compiled within the last five years, emerging trends in transport, and the activity in other cities around the world. Seminars and conferences included Cynnal Cymru’s 2016 “Future Car:diff” event, “Car Futures Wales”, and the Innovate UK “Transport Challenges” workshop. Interviews took place with Innovate UK’s Transport Systems Catapult, Arup, Jacobs, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Living Streets, and Cardiff Civic Society.

Early drafts concentrated on innovative practices that were not already included in the existing Council Transport Strategy or the Cycling Strategy.

As drafts progressed, a team of Council officers and Cynnal Cymru staff was formed under the leadership of Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Wild. This team began to blend existing Cardiff Council transport research and strategies – material that had informed the previous Transport Strategy and the Cycling Strategy for example – with new information gleaned from the research. The team included representatives from the Transport department, Economic Development, City Services, Shared Regulatory Services, Research and Customer Services, Policy, and Operations, and was chaired by Andrew Gregory Director of City Operations. The end result ensured innovative practices from other cities was combined with existing strategic and policy commitments and an awareness of emerging trends to meet the specific needs of Cardiff.

Following publication, we worked with the Transport Team, Customer Services, The Cardiff Research Centre and FOR Cardiff to undertake a variety of consultations events and communications. These included an event for businesses and targeted engagement of specific locations.

In May, we helped the Council’s policy team to stage a presentation by the leaders of Cardiff’s Public Service Board.

This was to mark the milestone of the Cardiff Well-being Plan’s publication and consultation. At a city centre event, the leader of Cardiff Council, Huw Thomas, was joined by Maria Battle – Chair of the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board – and South Wales Police Commissioner, Alun Michael. We secured the contribution of Cardiff citizens who spoke about their experiences and hopes for the future. These stories related to education, youth services, Living Wage, health and social care. We provided the compere role for the event and managed the Q&A session as well as leading on the promotion, invitations and social media.

What We Have Learned

We now have a much deeper understanding of the way that local authorities work, particularly the relationship between officers and elected members within a given policy portfolio. This work has enabled us to broaden our knowledge of the sustainable development aspects of transport, and the dynamic relationship between road use, air quality, carbon emissions, road safety, health, technology and the economy. We have consolidated research, facilitation, presentation and communication skills, adding valuable experience to our core offer. We would be confident to take on similar work for new clients, working with them as partners, as we are continuing to do with Dwr Cymru-Welsh Water and others.

If you have communication, consultation and engagement needs and feel that we could help then contact lynsey@cynnalcymru.com

If you want help with research, analysis, facilitation and presentation of data, then contact rhodri@cynnalcymru.com

Future CarDiff | Where Are Electric Cars Driving To?

[:en]We are looking forward to our ‘Future CAR:DIFF’ event on the 11th July when industry experts and the City Council Leader, Cllr. Huw Thomas, will consider the challenges and opportunities associated with electric car use in Cardiff.

The reality we all have to face is that for many people, life without a car is unthinkable. Environmentalists can dream about cities free of cars but I personally cannot see the people of the Cardiff Capital Region giving up their cars overnight. It is more realistic in my view to aim for an evolution with step changes towards a less car-dependent society. Even with this scenario, a great deal of persuasion is required and this will keep marketing specialists and social psychologists busy for some time.

The city faces a major challenge. The Council’s own Liveable City report states:

“Levels of car use are amongst the highest of the core cities and use of public transport in the city is comparatively low, although levels of walking and cycling compare well and are growing. Over 60% of residents now think that transport in the city is a serious or very serious problem. The city’s reliance on cars also contributes to Cardiff’s carbon emissions being high compared to many other British cities, with some city centre wards particularly vulnerable to high levels of air pollution.”

Source: The Liveable City report

Air quality is an immediate concern for Cardiff. The issue’s profile has increased recently at a UK national level. The Liveable City report explains:

“Carbon emissions per person in Cardiff have fallen in the last decade and are lower than both the UK and Wales averages. However, there is work to do if Cardiff is to meet the performance of similar local authorities; our emissions per capita are amongst the highest. Road transport continues to be a major source and its percentage share of emissions has increased since 2005. Nitrogen dioxide (N0²) in the air is mostly caused by road traffic and to an extent by energy production. Too much NO² in the air can increase the numbers of respiratory illnesses, especially among children. Levels of N02 found in the city centre are the highest in Welsh local authorities and exceed EU pollution limits.”

Our partners, Jacobs UK, are working with the city council to examine the feasibility of alternative sources of power for road transport that result in less emissions of nitrous oxides and carbon dioxide. At a recent event for industry specialists and City Council officers, Gareth Harcombe, Energy and Sustainability Manager for the council explained that 16% of Cardiff’s per capita electricity consumption is met by local renewable sources and that a 35% decrease in per capita carbon emissions had been achieved between 2005-2014. Other speakers presented examples of how electric and hydrogen engines were powering public transport in other cities, offering a viable alternative for Cardiff’s busses, taxis and trains.

The challenge remains however: people love their cars.

What we are aiming to do with this event, is provide a platform for companies like Chargemaster, Tesla and Drive Electric to demonstrate to public sector organisations, private companies with large numbers of staff, and event destinations that they can provide the infrastructure for electric car use. A key component in people’s reluctance to switch from fossil fuels is a lack of confidence in range, charge speed and abundance of charging points.

Dr. Paul Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff University’s electric vehicle centre of excellence will explore this topic. He has researched the challenges of electric vehicle use in an urban and rural context.

Another aim for the event is to look beyond the step change to electric private car use and consider what Cardiff may be like in the medium to long-term future.

Dr. John McCarthy of Arup will present the latest advances in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). John has been the technical director on two CAV trials in the UK that explored the feasibility of driverless cars. He argues that we should prioritise the user and achieve a deep understanding of human behaviour in relation to this new technology.

Dr. Katie Beverley of the PDR eco-design centre also shares this interest. She will close the conference with her reflections on what she has heard before leading a discussion group on the topic of behaviour change and the role of design in persuading people to adopt new technologies.

While this event will look primarily at the car, however, the need to use less cars and certainly own less cars remains. As 57% of Cardiff residents travel less than 5km, there is a realistic opportunity for more journeys to be undertaken by active modes. There is also an increasingly positive picture from more recent data collected by the City of Cardiff Council. In 2016, 11.5% of people reported using the train to get to work on 5 days a week, 12% use a bus five times a week and nearly one in five walk to work every day. While an increase on previous years, these are still tiny percentages. One factor that might persuade people to cycle, walk or use public transport to get to their place of work, is the availability of low emission pool cars or car club vehicles. The Cardiff Car Club, managed by Enterprise, has so far proved less popular than its Bristol equivalent. Understanding why is yet another component in the jigsaw of research required to help Cardiff Council achieve its aims.

In the meantime, the event location host – St Davids Shopping Centre – provides two types of charge points and are ready to make more electric vehicle spaces available if the demand increases.

I get to work every day by either bike or train. I still own a car. It’s a diesel. I am looking at the financial implications of installing a PV array and owning or leasing an electric car. It’s complicated and you need to set time aside to fully explore the finances. I have the type of house that allows me to contemplate this type of set up. Most other people do not. So these three massive questions remain: can you persuade people to give up their car? And if not, can you at least persuade them to give up a car powered by oil derivatives? And even if they do, where is the power coming from to charge up the battery?

Howard Odum, the father of systems ecology, tried to persuade the world to think in terms of embedded energy. Electric cars have a great deal of embedded energy. Odum envisioned the twenty first century as a “prosperous way down.” Electric vehicles are perhaps a step down from the energy high we are on but they are not a solution. They have to be part of an integrated, intelligent system that like the ecosystems that Odum spent his life studying, are adaptable, self-monitoring, auto-catalytic and solar-powered. The irrational parts of the human mind also have to be part of this system and that is where the greatest challenge lies.[:]

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