The West Midlands region has been chosen as the UK’s first Future Mobility Area and will pioneer innovative new transport schemes and technology to make journeys quicker, cheaper and cleaner, following the allocation of £20m (US$26.3m) in government funding.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) will work with companies to trial and demonstrate new modes of transport, services and technologies, such as Mobility as a- Service (MaaS), car sharing, electric bikes, and using big data to reduce congestion on the region’s roads.
TfWM, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will develop new services, apps and projects to improve mobility, speed up journey times and further develop a joined-up transport network across Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. The UK government will create three Future Mobility Areas of which the West Midlands is the first to be announced.
As part of the project, TfWM says new technology and use of transportation data will be used to enable residents to travel seamlessly across different modes, finding places to park their car, before hopping on a bus, train or tram. Commuters will get real-time traffic data and have greater confidence of knowing how long a journey will take. Building on the success of the region’s Swift travel card they will have access to the best prices and fares. The Future Mobility Area will also work with companies to develop more car sharing, taxi, electric bike schemes, and create more infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs).
“I am delighted that today the government is announcing that the West Midlands will be the first Future Mobility Area in the UK,” commented Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands (top, right). “This is a sector where we lead the world. Autonomous vehicles are being tested in Birmingham, electric taxis manufactured in Coventry, and Range Rovers are sold around the globe. The Future Mobility Area will make sure the residents of the West Midlands can travel around the region as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible.”
Announcing the new funding, UK Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said, “Thanks to the fantastic work of Mayor Andy Street, Birmingham is set to continue its upward trajectory as a cutting-edge city that innovates and leads the world. We will create an environment where new technologies and services can be deployed, giving passengers more choice than ever before. Whether you’re traveling to work or training or education, all will benefit from the innovation to come.”
Roger Lawrence, the WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Wolverhampton city council, added, “This will join up our transportation network across the West Midlands and allow travelers to move between car to bus, train, tram or bike with confidence.
“With access to up-to-the-minute information they will know how long a journey will take and secure the best fares. Transport for West Midlands is not only investing in our rail, bus, tram and cycling infrastructure, but is at the forefront of innovation in transport.”