The Academy starts its exciting programme for this week’s London Design Festival with a debate on the future of transport in the capital, which faces a number of challenges in the coming years. An increasing population, poor air quality, affordability, accessibility and a need to mitigate the effects of climate change show that the current systems operating are not sustainable and some major step changes are needed before it grinds to a halt. The Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy sets out his vision for transport in the capital over the next 20 years but in the light of the need to preserve a quality of life after 2030 we ask: is it time to design the motor vehicle off the streets of London?

Today’s debate brings together several of the key individuals who will be responsible for shaping our capital’s future transport policy:

Michele Dix is Managing Director of Planning at Transport for London. A Chartered Civil Engineer, she is responsible for leading TfL’s strategic thinking on the future transport needs of London;

Elizabeth Box is Head of Research at the RAC Foundation;

Darren James is Managing Director Infrastructure at Costain;

Richard Bourn is the London Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport. His focus is on traffic reduction and promoting the integration of transport and land-use to shorten journeys and allow more walking and cycling.

Chair: Terry Morgan CBE FREng, Chairman of Crossrail Ltd.

Dr David Quarmby, Chairman of the RAC Foundation, discusses the issues further in his evening lecture tonight: Aspiration and reality – a sustainable roads policy for London.

London’s economic dynamism and population growth is steadily putting more pressure on its transport systems. The policies pursued by London’s Mayors in the last decade have wrought transformational change in many aspects of the transport system – quality of the bus network, attractiveness and convenience of the Oyster card, investment in upgrading and improving the Underground and rail networks, including the creation of the London Overground. However, getting the public transport right is only part of the story. Most travel movement in London is not to and from central London – important and prominent though that is.

Cars still carry the majority of passenger-miles travelled in London, particularly for journeys outside central London where public transport does not provide convenient alternatives. Are roads being neglected in successive Mayoraltransport strategies? David Quarmby examines the place of roads in providing the mobility that keeps this great city functioning well, and some of the policy alternatives that could address how that mobility can best be sustained into the future.

Dr David Quarmby CBE is Chairman of the RAC Foundation. He is also a board member and Chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority, Chairman of the Docklands Light Railway, a board member of transport for London and Chairman of the British Tourist Authority;

Notes for editors

  1. The Academy is also showcasing the Switch EV outside the building today. The Switch EV is one of only eight electric vehicle projects in the UK to have won funding through the Technology Strategy Board’s Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme and starts trials across the North East this month.
  2. The Academy’s programme is generously supported by Costain Group plc, a leading UK engineering and construction company, which has a portfolio spanning more than 140 years of technical excellence and a vision to be one of the UK’s top solutions providers.
  3. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email:  Jane Sutton