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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > May 2019 > Policy report: transport and technology

Policy report: transport and technology

Government is promising a technological revolution—is it up to the job?

Steve Bloomfield Deputy Editor, Prospect

Can the Department for Transport really deliver?

Anyone who has recently travelled on the perverselynamed Pacers—a rickety bus-on-rails that is still used to ferry people between Liverpool and Manchester (when it’s not cancelled, of course)—might raise an eyebrow at the idea of the Department for Transport (DfT) embracing new technology. But, as the transport minister Jesse Norman explains below, a “complex wave of new technologies” could genuinely change the way we travel.

The good news is that transport is one of the few policy areas where both government and parliament, in the form of the Transport Select Committee, are at least engaging constructively with the impact new technology might have on the future. Serious discussion about automation, robotics and artificial intelligence has been sadly lacking elsewhere.

Yet it is one thing to set out a strategy, as the government did in March, but quite another to explain how that strategy will be delivered. And let’s face it, when it comes to delivery, the DfT, as Lilian Greenwood points out overleaf, does not exactly have a stellar record.

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About Prospect Magazine

InProspect's May issue: Tom Clark explores how British politics has ended up in crisis and suggests that a proper constitution could have avoided the current chaos and may well be necessary now to avoid the same problems in the future. Elsewhere in the issue: Kevin Maguire profiles Labour deputy leader Tom Watson who says that “if needs must” he would join a government of national unity. Max Rashbrooke examines Jacinda Ardern’s government in New Zealand and the ways the country is being transformed, ultimately suggesting that it could be an example for Britain to follow. Also, Stefanie Marsh follows the work of a donor detective who is helping children conceived by anonymous sperm donation to find their biological parents and Francesca Wade shows how Virginia Woolf is inspiring a new generation of women writers.