Blog Post

3 key questions for the future of transport in London

Outer London transport, promoting sustainable travel, and predicting future travel patterns were the key issues raised by experts at our roundtable.

London is in a complex moment for transport. While the capital has been a leading example of how cities are transitioning toward low-carbon mobility, more still needs to be done to improve air quality and achieve net zero.

On the 12 October 2022, Centre for London held an expert roundtable to discuss some of the key challenges for transport in London. The discussion looked at opportunities for positive change, and explored ideas on how to make London’s transport system sustainable, accessible, and comprehensive.

Here are three key questions that emerged.

How can Outer London match the progress of Inner London?

There have already been various developments for sustainable travel in London. This includes significant expansions in urban rail, as well as public bike and e-vehicle hire schemes.

However, our participants highlighted the fact many of these developments have taken place in inner London, and it is unclear whether and how these will expand to outer London boroughs.

Car dependency is more pronounced in outer London, but any solutions to tackle this must acknowledge the lack of suitable infrastructure for more sustainable transport modes in these areas.

For example, one of our attendees noted how the parking for e-bikes is often limited in outer London, which in turn discourages people from using these options.

How can people be encouraged to use sustainable travel?

Tied to the question of how to make transport more sustainable is the question of how to encourage people to use more sustainable transport options.

For many people, the switch to public transport, cycling, or walking is not one that is easily made, for a myriad of financial, health, and personal reasons.

Our discussion explored the idea of offering financial incentives to people to use sustainable and public transport. We also discussed whether and how road user charging could become more widely accepted among Londoners.

How will transport patterns change in the future?

The future demand for mobility in London is unclear. Patterns of how and when people travel are rapidly changing in the capital.

Research from the Office of National Statistics showed that London was the region most affected by changes to working and commuting preferences over the pandemic.

Post-pandemic working from home patterns have significantly reduced public transport use, but uncertainty over the future of hybrid working means it is unclear how these trends will persist.

Our participants highlighted that the current cost of living crisis is also likely to have an impact on mobility in the city.

Next steps

Creating a sustainable transport system that is fair and accessible is a necessary response to the global climate emergency.

Centre for London’s new research project, Moving with The Times, will explore how we can address the key challenges for transport in the city, to help design a fairer and greener transport system fit for all Londoners.