Understanding behaviour change, harnessing new technology and pushing national and local policy makers to trial new ways of working were key themes of this year’s Annual Transport Practitioners Meeting held in Nottingham on 29th and 30th June.
More than 200 delegates from local authorities, transport bodies, universities, and infrastructure planning consultancies from around the UK and overseas attended the annual two day conference. They learned about the latest technological and commercial opportunities and behavioural and societal trends changing the face of transport and which is now affecting long term transport policy planning, supporting economic growth and increasing mobility.
Keynote speeches at the opening of the first day were given by Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation; Amy Hanhoff, Head of Policy and Strategy at Transport for the North; and Maria Machancoses, Programme Director at Midlands Connect.
Steve Gooding explored the relationship between technology and travel. He argued that the amount of travel over the past century had continued to increase, despite rapid advances in technology. He argued that “the UK is very car centric accounting for more than 60% of all journeys”. He felt that autonomous vehicles “need a clear commercial proposition” to be successful. He also said that the perceived low quality of the road surface was now one of the biggest gripes of modern road users, including for cyclists as well as for motorists and commercial vehicle drivers.
Amy Hanhoff outlined the transformation taking place across the North, driven by Transport for the North (TfN) which connects 11 LEPs across a large area with a population of 15 million people and £300 billion GVA but where productivity is £37 billion less than it should be. TfN is pushing forward with plans for new infrastructure with improved connectivity for faster journeys and smart ticketing to drive economic growth and connect more people to employment, education and leisure.
Maria Machancoses felt that key regions like the North, Midlands and South East should work together to develop optimum transport outcomes not only from national government but also from new sources including LEPs and Combined Authorities.
She felt that the UK must open new markets, especially following the EU referendum and that the need to plan long-term transport infrastructure “has never been more important”. She also set out how Midlands Connect articulates transport aspirations and encourages the respective national transport bodies for road and rail to work together better to meet local needs, especially in essential infrastructure for freight and logistics.
The plenary session on each day was followed by more than 40 individual seminars each day that delegates could freely choose from plus interactive workshops on themes as diverse as influencing transport policy for young people, involving businesses in local transport solutions, cycling best practice and how local authorities can harness MOT data. A key issue was also how best to provide transport that meets the needs of growing populations, especially in large cities.
The plenary session on the second day was chaired by Councillor Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Jobs, Growth and Transport at Nottingham City Council who gave an insight into some of the innovations pursued by Nottingham including its well-established tram network and the Workplace Parking Levy designed to reduce city centre congestion.
The main speakers included James Gleave, Foresight Analyst at Transport Systems Catapult; Professor Sarah Sharples, Professor of Human Factors at the University of Nottingham; Keith Buchan, Director of Skills at the Transport Planning Society. Hannah Clark, Assistant Transport Planner, Devon County Council was also invited to join the panel to represent young practitioners, having won the TPM Award for Best paper by a Young Practitioner. Each speaker offered their perspectives on the challenges facing transport planners and the opportunities that emerging technologies present.
Commenting on TPM 2016, Daniel Parker-Klein, PTRC Director, said: “We were delighted to attract over 200 delegates to Nottingham for what has proved to be an enriching programme of seminars and workshops. Delegate feedback has been highly positive and the awards attracted many high quality entrants making the choosing worthy winners even more difficult.
“At a time when the EU referendum result has caused such uncertainty in long-term planning cycles, it was great so many could benefit from sharing best practice and developing new ideas for planning the transport solutions of the future.”
TPM also involves an awards ceremony and dinner and this year’s winners from a strong field were:
§ PTRC Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter White, Professor Emeritus at University of Westminster
§ PTRC award for Best Paper Demonstrating Sustainable Transport Solutions: Mark Jenks and Martin Philpott from Sustrans for their paper on Community Street Design
§ TPS Best Paper by a Young Practitioner: Hannah Clark from Devon County Council for her paper ‘An Investigation into TEMPro Growth Factors’
§ TPS Transport Planner of the Year: Stephen Wood from Department for Infrastructure, Northern Ireland
§ 2015 Voorhees-Large Prize (sponsored by the Brian Large Bursary Fund): Imogen Thompson for her MSc Transport and City Planning dissertation ‘Identifying the Impact of Transport Connectivity on Housing Prices in London: A Hedonic Analysis of Two Transport Links’
§ Urban Transport Design Award:
o London Borough of Ealing (Highly Commended) – Southall Broadway Boulevard
o Leicester City Council (Winner) – A programme of works
o West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Winner) – Castleford Bus Station Redevelopment