Lunch with Leon episode 28 – Steve Gooding

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The big questions about transport use and where to go from here

This week, Leon Daniels OBE has lunch with Steve Gooding, formerly Director General at the Department for Transport and now Director of the RAC Foundation, where he is a noted spokesman on roads and transport policy.

This year he becomes President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and talks about how it is working to develop professionalism in the sector.

“There’s never been a time when the expertise and professionalism of CILT members has been more in need,” he says, as the country “looks beyond Covid to the government agenda of ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’ across the UK.”

They chat about whether freight and logistics will become classed by the government as ‘critical infrastructure’ in the same way as energy and telecoms already are.

“There’s a tendency to think that infrastructure is static, but it’s not,” Steve tells Leon. “It gives the ability to move around. Rail and road – both classed as national critical infrastructure – are no good if trains and trucks can’t run on them.”

They mull over the return of commuter and passenger demand. Steve asks: “Will we see cities developing or cities returning?”

He then turns to opportunities for investment – and where it should go – before touching on what he sees as an inevitable recasting of local authority subsidised bus services.

As a trustee of the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, Steve explains what it is and what it is doing to raise its profile. He chats about the Fund’s work, especially with younger people, in careers and innovation.

He concludes by talking about autonomous vehicles and they enter the debate about whether they should ever be allowed on the UK’s roads. On this subject, Steve has strong views…

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