The Future Of Transport

We get involved with implementing NRMM (Non Road Mobile Machinery) compliance on construction sites in London and also preparing Noise, Dust and Vibration (NDV) Plans as well as Air Quality & Dust Management Plans (AQDMP), all of which are part of London’s ever increasing crackdown on emissions from vehicular use.

However, the measures currently being scheduled for implementation will have a wider effect on even domestic vehicle users, such as:-

London is introducing a ban on fossil fuel powered cars in certain parts of the capital during the morning and evening rush hours in some locations during 2018 and subsequently, the introduction of ultra-low emissions zones will ban them completely in 2019. They have also introduced the T Charge in London, which is an additional penalty imposed on most vehicles registered before 2005 based on the Euro 4 compliance. This is likely to be amended to penalise Euro 5 cars in the future.  Glasgow is going to ban all but the least polluting buses following the introduction of their low emission control zones. The future looks difficult for car drivers and could start impacting upon fleet operators.

The government has been getting tough on particulate emissions from diesels while at the same time not making encouraging noises about petrol. The automotive industry has reported a slow down in diesel sales because they believe the uncertainty surrounding diesels is causing the buyers to exercise caution.

Some companies have cracked the problem already with companies like UPS who have introduced their zero-emission electric vehicle fleet to operate in and around central London, but for most of us the answers are not as clear.  We are not certain which way to turn.

What options are left open to us?

Hybrids are preferred to the more conventional vehicles but even these will not be allowed into some areas under the new regulations.

Electric vehicles are increasing in range and these may be suitable for residents of cities like London doing short runs – things have moved on a lot from the days of the G Wiz. This might even be possible for fleet operators who might want to emulate UPS, doing local city deliveries using an electric fleet. Tesla has announced the new articulated lorry with a 500 mile range on one charge, will this be in general use anytime soon?

For normal driving and deliveries where there is a mix of motorway and urban driving the solution looks less clear. The electric vehicles’ range is not yet good enough to become a daily user for most people and the costs are still out of the reach of normal motorists.

One alternative is the Hydrogen Fuel cell vehicle. Chemically combining hydrogen and oxygen inside an electric fuel cell creates water and energy. Possibly the perfect solution except for the need to carry a hydrogen gas bottle around in the car, lack of refuelling stations and the excessive costs. This might be the shape of the future, but it is not here yet. It also has the advantage that we could use renewable energy to separate oxygen and hydrogen from water to generate the fuel to start with, providing the complete fossil free solution.

We are not far away from the driverless vehicle. This technology asks the question will we still be car owners at all in 50 years’ time? Driverless taxis called up on the latest app, providing the vehicle size you need, electricity, wi-fi and table. Working on route to your destination in the privacy of your personal cocoon.

But what should we do now?
There are no obvious answers at the moment, but the government wants us to use public transport. The public transport reality is that it is expensive, often overcrowded and in the case of bus services, absent in all but the heavily populated areas. If the government wants to promote public transport it needs to improve the quality of service and reduce the costs.

If you live in the city look at electric vehicles.  If you don’t then try not to make significant investments in long term fossil fuel-based transport. Park and ride options may help by using traditional vehicles to get close to town and finishing the trip with a quick city hop on the bus.

Transport companies may want to consider their logistics and introduce vehicle transfer stations on the outskirts of cities. Run the load to the transfer station using conventional options then exchange the cab for an electric vehicle for local delivery inside the controlled zones.

Hydrogen gas buses have been used in Oxford, hydrogen fuel cell buses are being trialled in London and maybe the hydrogen technology is now ready for conversion to industrial transport. Grundons have already experimented with diesel / hydrogen dual fuel conversions for their waste collection fleet.

The ultimate solution may not be far away but at the current time of flux the operations that make the smart decisions could turn out to be long term winners.

If we can help you with implementing NRMM (Non Road Mobile Machinery) compliance on construction sites in London, or preparing Noise, Dust and Vibration (NDV) Plans, or even, Air Quality & Dust Management Plans (AQDMP), please contact us:- , email [email protected] , or call 01604 859961.

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