Dear Secretary of State for Transport,
Inclusion of Digital Traffic Orders (DTROs) in the King’s Speech 2023
We are writing on behalf of the UK public and private transport industry to express our concerns about the future of our transportation infrastructure and the changes required to improve all our journeys and crucially to simultaneously address environmental challenges. We were heartened to see the commitment made in the 2022 Queen’s Speech regarding the Future Transport Bill, and we are writing to appeal for its inclusion in the King’s Speech for 2023. This would act as a catalyst for many of the actions set out in your Policy Paper on ‘The plan for drivers’ and benefit the 50 million driving licence holders in Great Britain.
The Future Transport Bill holds great promise in addressing the evolving needs of our transportation systems, and it presents a unique opportunity to take substantial steps towards a more sustainable and efficient road network. One crucial aspect that I would like to emphasise for inclusion in this bill is the adoption of digital Traffic Orders to optimise and decarbonise our road network.
Digital Traffic Orders (DTROs) are a powerful tool that can revolutionise the way local authorities manage and regulate traffic flow at a fraction of today’s cost. By transitioning to digital platforms, we can streamline the process of creating and updating traffic regulations, reduce paperwork, improve accessibility for citizens, and ultimately make our roads safer and more efficient in line with your plan for smoother journeys.
DTROs inextricably complement the DfTs National Parking Platform and OLEV LEVI initiatives resulting in faster adoption with better ROI for the taxpayer. Unifying DTROs, payments and charging will enable better-connected vehicles, fast-forwarding the switch to carbon-zero fleets.
Looking further ahead, DTROs will be crucial to the functionality of autonomous vehicles (AVs). DTROs and digital kerbside data have so far been neglected by other nations in their quest to get AVs into operation. This neglect should be our opportunity. The development of DTROs would put the UK 5 to 10 years ahead, putting the UK at the forefront of AV innovation, and cementing our position as the premier destination to deliver societal and economic benefits. Creating new highly skilled jobs, and exporting new mobility solutions.
The benefits of Digital Traffic Orders are numerous and include:
- Real-time Optimisation: Digital systems can respond quickly to changing traffic conditions, allowing for adaptive traffic management that reduces congestion and minimises emissions.
- Data-Driven Decision-Making: These systems can collect and analyse data to make informed decisions about traffic regulations and road infrastructure investments, leading to better long-term planning.
- Enhanced Accessibility: Citizens and businesses can easily access information about traffic regulations and restrictions, fostering a sense of transparency and compliance within the community.
- Environmental Benefits: By reducing congestion and promoting smoother traffic flow, digital Traffic Orders can contribute to lower carbon emissions and air pollution.
- Economic Savings: DTROs will result in significant cost savings through reduced administrative overhead and more efficient resource allocation.
- EV charge points: The UK is approximately 24 months behind its on-street EV targets. The Geospatial Commission has highlighted that DTROs are a key catalyst for expediting rollout.
- Car Clubs: Currently takes 6-12 months and £5,000 to create a TRO for a single on-street car club bay. DTROs would optimise, and accelerate new shared mobility schemes.
- Blue Badge Accessibility: DTROs would provide better kerbside access for the 2.35m Blue Badge holders and help transport authorities overcome the current breach of The Equality Act 2010.
- Digital Roads for CAVs: There are 500,000 restriction edge cases (Signs, lines, and tariffs) along the UK’s kerbside. Any connected and autonomous vehicles will need to query machine-readable regulations for compliance.
We urge you to consider the inclusion of provisions for digital traffic orders within the Future Transport Bill outlined in the King’s Speech 2023. This forward-thinking approach can help the UK maintain its leadership in sustainable transportation while simultaneously addressing pressing environmental concerns.
We understand that your role involves balancing multiple priorities, and we believe that investing in modernising our traffic management systems is not just a smart move but a necessary one. The whole industry is ready to support these efforts and engage to make this vision a reality.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing about the progress made in the development of the Future Transport Bill and the inclusion of measures to promote digital Traffic Orders in our road network optimisation.
Director, TRL Academy
Including full support from the UK Kerbside Taskforce and other major mobility stakeholders;