Steer given on future transport thinking

July 18 2018  

Steer given on future transport thinking
Forty year old transport consultant Steer Davies Gleave is marking its milestone birthday this week by rebranding as Steer.
But what could the next 40 years hold for the transportation sector and for mobility in general – and how should we prepare? TP Weekly News discussed future thinking with the company’s UK managing director Sharon Daly (pictured).
“There is a lot of discussion around Mobility as a Service and disruptive technologies and the technology which is emerging is providing both opportunities and challenges,” she said.
“But the transport industry has always responded to technological change and the core of transport planning – which is all about understanding travel behaviours – is unlikely to change that much.”
She added that transport planning as a discipline has previously helped to bring forward ideas that were considered to be innovative at the time, such as personalised travel planning and dynamic modelling, and have helped to influence policy and direct investment.
Going forwards there are likely to be other, as yet unknown, concepts to consider, she adds. “One of the things that makes transport planning so interesting is there is always an element of uncertainty about the future, so I always encourage my team to think about uncertainty as part of their work.”
Very few would have predicted 40 years ago that a single device such as a smartphone could one day be such a powerful tool in our lives and have such an impact on how we travel about. “And in 40 years’ time there will be something else, so we have to be ready for whatever that might be,” says Sharon, an economist and accountant by background, who has worked for Steer since 2000. “We need to be thinking towards the longer term and consider things such as changes in demographics and climate, but also to make sure that the future options we present are flexible enough to change.”
But one thing which is unlikely to change all that much is the interplay between transport and other sectors and how transport influences cities, education and the economy, she says. “The future of transport is as much about the future of our wider society and economy.”
Sharon adds that the company, which is based in London, is looking forward to the next 40 years with a sense of optimism and confidence. Recent projects include providing advice to Transport for Wales on a new rail franchise and converting Valley lines to a new metro concept.
The firm is also providing commercial advice to Stansted Airport and is working with Transport for the North to develop its future strategy.

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