New Chair of the Urban Transport Group, Stephen Edwards, has revealed that he plans to use his two-year term at the organisation to encourage city leaders to develop local transport strategies that reflect changes in consumer behaviour and investment priorities.
“We’re working against a rise in car ownership, a shift in people’s expectations for more bespoke and on-demand services, increasing fare prices, a growth in online shopping, different work patterns, and reduced investment,” Edwards told Cities Today. “Given this environment, it’s vital that transport leaders influence and shape what’s in their backyard and maximise every opportunity to affect change.”
Edwards, the Executive Director at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, takes over from outgoing Nexus Managing Director Tobyn Hughes. Edwards said he has “inherited an organisation which is in great shape”.
He also acknowledged that there is a “strong consensus [within the organisation] around the need for high-quality, integrated urban public transport networks that can support the greener, healthier and more prosperous city regions that we want to see.”
Despite his emphasis on localisation, Edwards reiterated the fact that sharing collective insights and analysis will remain crucial in allowing policymakers and transport providers to create competitive services among the seven members that make up the UK’s network of city-region transport authorities.
Serving more than twenty million people, the Urban Transport Group represents the UK’s biggest strategic transport authorities, including Greater Manchester, Liverpool, London, Sheffield, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire.
These authorities are themselves represented by a board that is made up of directors from each of its full members, while the group also acts as a wider professional network with associate members in Strathclyde, Bristol and the West of England, Tees Valley, and Nottingham.
Edwards will continue in his role at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, where his remit involves delivering the Mayor’s Transport Vision to improve rail, light rail, and bus connectivity, improve air quality and reduce emissions, promote active travel, and simplify customer journeys through improvements in ticketing and information services.