Covid-19: ITS industry optimistic and sees opportunities for long-term traffic reduction in UK, despite short-term challenges


The majority of ITS businesses in the UK report that they are continuing to function well, despite some negative effects due to the coronavirus lockdown, according to a new survey by the Department for Transport carried out on its behalf by ITS (UK).

Despite uncertainty and concern about the future, most say the initial impact has not been too severe and they remain cautiously optimistic about recovery provided the crisis does not last too long.

Some ITS businesses have even reported positives from the current lockdown, with one in 10 saying it has had no effect so far. Many have spoken of efficiencies discovered thanks to more digital working and using the time to review strategy and goals.

There is also widespread agreement that the industry should work to ensure that the decrease in transport use, particularly traffic levels, is not completely reversed once the crisis is over. The ITS industry should, they believe, work to promote solutions to retain some of the reduction.

A minority – around 25% of private company members of ITS (UK) – have reported that the current coronavirus crisis has had a significant effect on their businesses,

The survey found three-quarters had seen some lost business, with work put on hold and contract awards deferred. However only a third have so far needed to either furlough staff or cut pay. More than half of the companies are confident that their business will return to normal when the crisis is over, with only a tenth “very worried” about the future.

Government intervention has provided a measure of support, but it is clear some members, such as company directors, are ineligible for help. The survey suggests more clarity about forward investment for research and infrastructure is needed from central and local government.

Respondents said that it is too early to know what the real impact of the crisis will be, saying that this will become clearer in the next two-to-three months. They also suggested Government spending on infrastructure will make a big difference to the industry if it is delivered as planned.

Jennie Martin, secretary general, ITS (UK)

“While it is very concerning to see the numbers of members reporting negative effects of the current crisis, it is not surprising given the huge changes we have all had to make,” commented Jennie Martin, ITS (UK) secretary general. “However, what is heartening is the can-do attitude of members and their overall optimism for the future. Any member struggling at all can rest assured that ITS (UK) will do all it can to help, and across all our members we hope to learn from this crisis and find some positive outcomes from the current crisis.”

The Department for Transport is now examining the responses and using them to help shape their overall reaction to support the transport industry at this time.

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).