After appearing at our Quadrant intelligent mobility event, we sit down with Sunil Budhdeo from Coventry City Council to discuss how the city is leading the way in a modal shift from cars onto public transport.
As we push for net-zero by 2050, there is a huge focus to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. Coventry is leading the way in this mission, by establishing a local air quality plan and providing people with £3000 worth of travel vouchers to use when they trade in their car.
Heading up this initiative is Sunil Budhdeo, Transport Innovation Manager at Coventry Council. With over 35 years of experience working in various Councils, most recently 11 years at Coventry, Sunil is dedicated to facing the challenges of encouraging modal shift.
Quadrant Transport was told “For many years we have taken transport to the point where we have saturated the sector. Now we are looking at ways we can better reduce the emissions.”
Adding to this he said: “We [Coventry Council] now look at how we can improve sustainability and our health with the modal shift. This is everything that the transport sector has become now, and I really enjoy my role because it allows me to look outside the box for the solutions to these issues.”
Local air quality action plan hopes to improve health
One of the biggest issues that the UK face is improving air quality. To combat this, Coventry Council has launched their local air quality action plan. This includes managing congestion in the city with a congestion charge and providing clean air zones where traffic is no longer allowed.
“We are using modern technology, with things like electric fleets to encourage and incentive people to travel by bus rather than the car. Changing our bus fleets to all-electric is part of this objective. On top of this, introducing more EV charge points will help people convert from fossil fuels to electric.”
To help boost modal shift, Coventry Council is also offering people £3000 worth of travel credits to use on public transport when they scrap their combustion engine vehicles.
While this will encourage people to switch to electric forms of transport, there are issues surrounding EV charging points in the city. There is a balance to be had with producing electric charging points as investors say they need more electric cars to invest in charging points for the city, but many people say they want more charging options before they purchase an electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles offer many solutions but there are issues to overcome
Sunil expanded on this, explaining: “We have a lot of terrace houses in Coventry, some with two cars. We don’t have enough road space to put electric charge points outside everyone’s house so there needs to be a fine balance.”
So, how do you find an equilibrium?
Coventry is aiming to introduce electric charge point management apps and software to notify people where free spaces are and when their car is fully charged so they can free up spaces for other drivers. “This will help manage expectations and manage public perception to add to the growing acceptance of EVs,” added Sunil.
Other forms of public transport that Coventry has been investing in, includes E-scooter and bikes. “We strategically placed e-scooters outside bus stations, where people are commuting. That city knowledge can then be shared across the regions of the midlands.”
Rounding up the interview, Sunil told Quadrant Transport: “The uptake has been really good and micro-mobility is going to be an option for people in the future. It isn’t just about EVs and charging points, it is about providing the first and last mile for commuters.”