TRANSPORT IN SCOTLAND - RECOGNISING ITS ECONOMIC VALUE
By Scottish Policy Now Editor
On 25th September 2019 the first Scottish Transport Show will be officially launched by Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Trade, Investment & Innovation in the Scottish Government.
The Show is a platform for innovation and expertise, intended to allow participants to network with transport leaders in all sectors and to discuss development of collaborative opportunities. The aim is to help everyone in the Scottish transport supply chain to make new contacts, understand future developments in the transport industry and transport policy and to forge new partnerships.
Perhaps that is why the Show will see support and participation from a diverse range of transport and transport related organisations such as Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, the Connected Places Catapult (formerly the Transport Systems and Smart Cities Catapults), Transport Focus, Calmac and Transport Times.
Domestically Scottish transport stands on the brink of major change and opportunity driven by technical, data and digital transformation, by planned sustained investment levels in services and infrastructure, by the pressing need to respond to the challenge of climate change and by the demands of consumers and marketplaces.
Exploring how resources and expertise can best transform Scottish transport in the coming wealth of initiatives is perhaps an obvious objective, but so too should be identifying the wide range of export market opportunities for innovative transport intelligence, services and products that follow on from that domestic transformation.
It seems extraordinary that Scotland did not already have a transport show. The Scottish transport industry is one of the core drivers of the Scottish economy, an engine without which the rest of our economic activity would struggle to survive. The aggregate level of investment which transport provides to the Scottish economy is huge.
The annual transport-based revenue and capital expenditure, from both public and private sectors, dwarfs many other economic activities. The National Transport Review and the Strategic Transport Projects Review are about to frame Scotland's transport policy vision for what comes next – both of which will be explored at the Show - and these will give direction and substance to how that expenditure and policy will unfold next.
Whether in the provision of passenger transport services, the maintenance of roads, rail, bridges and other transport assets, the development of new infrastructure, activity in the air or on water or in the daily travel of commuters by foot, vehicle or bicycle, there is no part of Scottish business or community activity that is not directly and immediately affected by, and dependent upon, transport infrastructure, investment and assets.
But while this every day and vast range of transport activities takes place hidden in plain sight, a wide range of other developments are in already advanced stages of progression and will transform how we think of transport both how and what we move.
A dramatic and sustained increase in Scottish Government annual capital expenditure on infrastructure will see major new transport projects unpack. City Deals will fuel policy and project initiatives that change the way we think about the city regions in which we - mostly – live and initiatives like the Glasgow Connectivity Commission are already challenging existing norms.
The data/digital wave of disruptive innovation and technology will challenge almost every aspect of transport, with the emergence of Mobility as a Service, Connected Autonomous Vehicles and ‘Uberisation’ gathering pace. The effects of climate change are impacting transport continuity and the demand for real action is shaping transport’s response. The changing role and use of energy in transport will completely alter how we think about and use movement.
In among all this activity the Scottish transport sector – its operators, the supporting supply chains and the passenger and freight customers powering the sector collectively – is the central nervous system of the Scottish economy. The Scottish Transport Show provides the sector with a focal point where innovation, collaborative opportunities and networking with transport leaders are the objective.
There is a purpose to bringing together all of Scotland’s transport sector. Scotland has the potential to reap a double benefit from the coming investment, the development activity and the transformation associated with the period ahead - that is to both build the innovation and then to export it.
The opportunity is there of course to secure a transportation system that is smart, supports growth, meets the severity of climate change and builds a transport structure that is joined-up, inclusive and comprehensive. The second premium from all of this development is to harness the products, innovation, intellectual property and learning that come from those activities and turn it into export opportunities. Scotland’s transport journey in moving from traditional to transformed is a journey that all other countries face, creating a mosaic of global opportunities.
So for those who supply the transport sector, operate in the transport sector, deliver services in the transport sector or want to collaborate with the transport sector, the Scottish Transport Show will house a series of discussions that matter. With a thousand delegates, one hundred exhibitors, twenty masterclasses and an open discussion ‘Knowledge Hub’ coming together, the platform is there for Scotland’s transport industry to find both its voice and its conversation in recognising and maximising the potential of an industry pivotal to Scotland’s future.
By Scottish Policy Now Editor
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