Solent Transport has won £29m from the Department for Transport (DfT) to implement innovative future transport solutions around personal mobility and freight movements.

The funding means the Solent area will benefit from several innovative transport solutions including: smartphone apps for planning and paying for sustainable journeys demand, e-bike share scheme, and new approaches to freight distribution, including drone freight trials for NHS deliveries across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.

Solent Transport partnership submitted The Solent Transport Zone bid to the Department for Transport last year. Solent Transport comprises: Southampton City Council, Portsmouth City Council, Isle of Wight Council, and Hampshire County Council.

The three-year Solent Transport Zone programme proposes to address local challenges such as high levels of car usage and the environmental impacts of freight movement within Solent’s urban areas. It will do this by delivering a series of complementary projects within two key themes: Personal Mobility and Sustainable Urban Logistics.

Personal Mobility projects will trial new modes of travel, and develop new, complementary means of planning and paying for all types of journeys via mobile devices. This will include an upgrade of the Solent Go multi-operator smartcard to an app-based platform, creating a “Mobility as a Service” app product. This will be trialled at Universities of Southampton and Portsmouth. The new modes of transport aspect include development of a Bike/ e-bike and hire schemes.

The Sustainable Urban Logistics projects will test less environmentally damaging approaches to freight and small-package deliveries in urban environments. Working with University partners, Solent Transport will run projects testing several different approaches to freight deliveries. We will also trial the UK’s first drone delivery network for the NHS, moving medical products between hospitals on the mainland and the Isle of Wight.

Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Southampton Cabinet Member for Place & Transport and Chair of Solent Transport Joint Committee says: “The Solent Transport Zone project will test new ways of moving people and goods in urban areas. We want to trial new approaches that provide better, more efficient, more sustainable ways to travel and which will reduce environmental impacts of transport helping us tackle climate change. At the same time these innovative approaches could provide direct benefits to Solent residents and the services we can provide to them. Helping them travel and receive deliveries, as well as tackling hard-to-solve issues, such as the growing numbers of vans on our roads.”

Councillor Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Economy Hampshire Member and Vice-Chair of Solent Transport Joint Committee says: “The Solent Mobility Zone will help make the Solent area a better place to live, work and do business. I am delighted that this bid has been successful, and we can now use this funding to develop trials of new technologies and approaches which have the potential to be used across the country at the same time as improving travel options for those living and working in South Hampshire.”

Councillor Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth City Council’s Member of Solent Transport Joint Committee, stated: “This innovative scheme is a result of great partnership working between Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Southampton and Hampshire Councils. We are proud to be a partner in Solent Transport and look forward to the benefits these initiatives will have for our communities.”

Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet Member for Transport at Isle of Wight, said “Access to healthcare for island residents is an issue that we are working hard to address.   We are very excited to support this ground-breaking trial of aerial drone delivery of medical supplies, which we hope could significantly help reduce these issues and potentially save lives.”