Transport has caught the public imagination recently with talk of driverless cars, widespread adoption of electric vehicles, delivery drones and all manner of applied technology alongside some less desirable but more predictable transport headlines relating to railway woes and traffic congestion. Some or all of these new ideas will add to the mix of options we are familiar with but there is no consensus on what will definitely happen. There is a heightened expectation that our means of travel will change but there is no certainty that this will be achieved as quickly as some would like. It may bring many new opportunities to move people and goods in the form of vehicles, their propulsion methods and the time or cost of travelling but it may take a long time for us to adapt. The concept of a managed, coordinated and funded programme for large scale change still seems to elude us despite some big issues emerging that may have a profound influence and will not go away.
However, new challenges such as poor air quality in urban areas being acknowledged as a serious health concern mean that many initiatives are needed on a large scale and probably more quickly than ever before. Population increases mean that we need to provide more capacity in some of our transport systems, preferably mass transit options. More sustainable measures that make walking and cycling an everyday reality for many more people are necessary simply to accommodate the anticipated demand in what is becoming very limited space. Alongside the technological applications we are hearing about, we need to think of how best to instil behavioural change as much as possible. If everyone wants their own on-demand vehicular transport, there simply won’t be enough room so we need to plan in a different way that addresses inequalities, supports local economic activity and (almost literally) drives sustainability. Despite land uses becoming more dispersed, the majority of journeys are short and making these easier would have the greatest effect on daily activities. We can influence transport in so many ways but this needs a fresh understanding by individuals regarding how their mobility aspirations can be managed or improved and their role in making changes happen.
The forthcoming Transport Practitioners’ Meeting is an opportunity for you to contribute to the debate about how and why we should be planning for the future. Seeing the bigger picture is something we all need to do if we are to successfully challenge the direction of some debates which may be too optimistic and overlook the practicalities of delivering new ideas. However, there will be new methodologies that will need to keep pace with technological change and for transport to be more innovative rather than simply more responsive to the changes that are taking place around us. Arguably the smartphone has had a greater effect on transport in recent years than anything else with a shift from the provision of transport options to the availability of transport data.
TPM offers a huge range of topics for you to consider, learn from and contribute to. There you will be able to meet other practitioners, some of whom share your experiences and others who are approaching problems from a very different angle. Expanding your horizons can only be a good thing and TPM is an ideal opportunity for newer professionals in particular to gain insight into what has gone before, what we can expect to happen and what can be done in a future for which we have no clear idea what might happen. Giving decision-makers the right advice rather than what they might like to hear should be part of our remit, arming them appropriately for the new and significant challenges ahead. Movers and shakers need to rise above many of the practices of the past and take us towards a more sustainable future, free of ‘alternative facts’ and which translate policy into practice. This needs to happen through a combination of infrastructure provision, mass transit services and behavioural change, taking advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
Transport affects everyone in many ways so having a clear understanding of the issues is really important. TPM will be informative, stimulating and is your chance to offer your views in the ongoing debate.
We hope you can join us for this year’s event.