Ground-breaking trial project launched to reduce private car use at the University of Warwick

E-scooters, buses on demand and Enterprise Car Club vehicles are just some of the innovative transport projects being looked at to reduce personal car use under a two-year trial at the University of Warwick.

The Future Transport Showcase will involve a number of new projects aiming to reduce private vehicle usage, cut carbon emissions and create a safer, more environmentally friendly campus.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has teamed up with the University of Warwick on the two-year trial.

The West Midlands is home to the £22 million Future Transport Zone, set up to harness the latest technology and data to design and develop accessible and connected transport alternatives that are faster, cleaner and greener – contributing to achieving the #WM2041 ambition to reduce the region’s carbon footprint.

Throughout the two-year trial, participants will be encouraged to change their transport choices and incentives offered for people who choose greener travel as part of the “choose your way Warwick” campaign hosted on the Betterpoints App.

The trial will look at how the use of new transport solutions like e-scooters, a car club and a demand responsive bus service can affect travel behaviour and replace traditional car use in and around the University campus area.

The showcase projects include:

  • Voi Technology, the UK’s leading e-scooter operator, is bringing carbon neutral e-scooters to the University of Warwick campus as part of a pilot research project to help inform Government e-scooter legislation in the UK and research into micro-mobility.  The e-scooter trial will begin on campus and rolled out to cover a wider area from March.
  •  Membership of Enterprise Car Club with access to two low emission Hyundai Ioniq cars, for use by staff, students and the local community. The vehicles can be booked for anything from half an hour to a full day. As well as the two car club vehicles, members can also use any of the car club’s 1,400 vehicles around the UK and access the wide range of vehicles from Enterprise’s daily rental fleet.
  •  Later in the year, a demand responsive bus service will be introduced to encourage the use of public transport by being able to order a bus in a similar way to a taxi. The convenience of the DRT will make it easier for the local community, staff and students to use public transport where a traditional bus service may not be appropriate.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “From the outset of the industrial revolution, the West Midlands has always been a hub of innovation and we are still leading the way with the development of green battery technology, new low-carbon housing, 5G digital connectivity, autonomous vehicles and the transport systems of the future.

“The Future Transport Showcase at the University of Warwick will offer students and staff more flexibility, choice, and greener travel solutions for the region, at a time when we are facing a climate emergency and urging people to leave the car at home.

“And this trial will show what works as we develop transport policies to address the climate emergency we all face.”

Parvez Islam, director of transport and mobility for the University of Warwick, said: “Ever since the University of Warwick was established, we’ve been a place where the future lands early. We’re proud to, again, be pointing the way with the Future Transport Zone trial on our campus. Our scheme with Transport for West Midlands is an important signal that we are committed to exploring new and better ways of living, studying and working on our campus, by designing solutions with our campus community.

“This scheme gives our staff, students and communities an opportunity to experience the future of sustainable transport and mobility and to play a part in building a shared understanding of how new concepts, modes, technologies and approaches can help shape behaviours and make a better world.”

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Encouraging people to switch from car use to more sustainable transport is crucial if we are to meet the challenge of a growing population and the climate emergency.

“This is why as a region we are putting unprecedented investment in public transport including opening new rail lines and extending the tram network and, through the Future Transport Zone, looking to create a cleaner, greener and better connected West Midlands.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “In Coventry we are setting out ways to make a major dent in addressing air pollution and offering better transport options in the short and long term.

“We already have a range of schemes to improve air quality: hundreds more electric charging bollards are being installed across the city; cycle lane schemes are underway; we are to be a trailblazer for electric buses; and we are also recognised as a city for battery production and a leader in new technologies.

“This trial now highlights how the University of Warwick is strengthening its role in research, and it provides more evidence of the city embracing and developing new transport solutions.

“Innovation has always been the trademark of the city and I look forward to seeing how the trial develops.”

Gary Palmer, general manager of Enterprise for the West Midlands, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this exciting project. The Future Transport Zone will enable people to assess their mobility needs and match these to the best solution, whether that is active travel, public transport or a shared asset such as our car club vehicles.

“Being close to where people need to use vehicles means our car club can operate very efficiently, bringing lower emission mobility to the heart of the community and helping reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

“We also recognise the need to put the safety of our customers and staff as a high priority. As a result of the Covid crisis we introduced our Complete Clean Pledge, an enhanced series of cleaning and hygiene measures to bring reassurance to renters. The Complete Clean Pledge includes vacuuming and sanitising with a disinfectant that meets leading health authority requirements, with particular attention to more than 20 high-touch points.

The future transport scheme is being set up using the Transport for West Midlands award of £22 million in funding from the Department for Transport for a Future Transport Zone across the West Midlands.

A Future Transport Zone seeks to explore and evaluate a number of different transport initiatives that improve the lifestyles of residents and visitors by providing greater choice and flexibility. This could be through new modes of transport, an increase in “green” and active travel solutions or by improving the public transport offering to make it seamless and attractive compared to the car.

Following the two-year trial, the mobility showcase results will help to find the best solutions that work for our residents in reducing their carbon footprint and help them make more informed and environmentally friendly transport choices while contributing towards achieving the region’s #WM2041 net zero-carbon ambitions.