Decisions should be taken “soon” on the future funding of transport, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has argued.
“The costs of uncertain, short-term bailout packages without a clear transition plan could begin a spiral of decline and cuts to both public transport services and capital projects that would take years to recover from,” the organisation warns in a new paper - Public transport funding post-Covid.
Arguing that “lasting, structural change in travel patterns” is likely, ICE contends that funding models which rely on transport operators covering their operating costs (such as those used in the UK) are a particular concern.
However, it believes that accessible public transport remains “vital” to addressing such challenges as population growth, carbon emission targets, and sustainable development goals
ICE argues that a shift from conventional ‘9-5’ working “will require public transport operators to adjust service scheduling, pricing and ticketing options, as well as to appeal to wider markets. It will also be necessary to make best use of data to provide commuters with information on their travel options.”
The report adds: “Operators and authorities will need to think about new funding models, including policies like road user charging and land value capture, how to fund and finance services on a systems basis, and more diversified revenue sources.”
ICE outlines principles for effective transport funding, which include stability and resilience, flexibility, a diversity of revenue sources, and acceptance by the public. It contends that one reason for UK public transport being particularly hard-hit is because “the heavy reliance on farebox revenue left operators vulnerable”.
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