Last Friday 28th October, Solent Transport, a partnership between the councils of the Isle of Wight, Hampshire County, Portsmouth and Southampton, hosted government officials from around the world as part of the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) bi-annual meeting of its 64 member countries.

The Department for Transport (DfT) made Portsmouth the location of choice for an interactive ‘show and tell’ day, where ITF members as well as directors and policy advisors from the DfT visited the city to learn about the innovative work of the Solent Future Transport Zone and experience some of the different modes of transport available in this busy transport hub.

Delegates prior to boarding the Hovertravel hovercraft for a tour of the Solent

Held at the world-famous Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth, the visit showcased the fantastic range of local transport options available, from the world’s only commercial operated passenger hovercraft to personal mobility vehicles available for hire including e-scooters and e-bikes. The day featured a welcome from Councillor Stagg, Chair of the Solent Transport Joint Committee, and an overview of the Solent Future Transport Zone from the Solent Transport team. This included a demonstration of the new and revolutionary Breeze micromobility app for the Solent region. Breeze is a new way to hire both Voi and Beryl e-scooters and plan journeys on buses and trains across south Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In the new year there are plans for more features to be added, including the ability to buy bus, rail and ferry tickets, making Breeze the UK’s first fully operational multi-city MaaS app.

Delegates were able to experience a guided e-scooter tour with Portsmouth and Southampton operator Voi, and an e-bike tour with Beryl using Beryl Bikes by Breeze.

There was also a unique opportunity to experience a virtual reality headset simulating a drone flight around the Portsmouth landscape, supported by Solent Transport research partners from the University of Southampton. The Solent Transport drone project is designed to deliver an operational Uncrewed Traffic Management system (UTM) for drone flights across the Solent for medical use.

Young Tae Kim, Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum said, “We had a fantastic time here in Portsmouth and on the Solent. This outing contained the whole spectrum of what makes the United Kingdom such a great transport nation, from the sea-faring classics like HMS Victory and the Hovercraft to latest hi-tech such as delivery drones and state-of-the art micromobility apps.

Delegates also had the opportunity to experience some of the local history of the area, visiting HMS Victory and The Mary Rose.

The UK holds the ITF Presidency from June 2022, which includes hosting the ITF Autumn Meetings in the UK. The transport day was a chance to showcase the UK as a leader in global transport innovations to government officials from around the world as well as the ITF Secretariat. It provided an international platform for local transport operators to join with the Solent Transport team to demonstrate excellent transport infrastructure and innovations in a local context.

A drone’s eye view! Experiencing the drone delivery project through VR

Solent Transport would like to thank its partner authorities, DfT and mobility service providers Beryl, Hovertravel and Voi, who all contributed to the visit.