Futures Inspirations

CIHT FUTURES explores the implications of different future scenarios for transport policy and practice. It engaged members around the UK, drawing on the diversity of their geographical, professional and personal characteristics. These pages contain insight and views from those who have been involved in the project.

FUTURES thinking

What was it like to participate in a CIHT FUTURES workshop? Why did the project sponsor, JMP, support this initiative? On this page some views are offered from different perspectives.

Following our first FUTURES workshop in Manchester, Nicola Kane, Strategy Manager at Transport for Greater Manchester wrote about her experience of the day:

I attended an excellent CIHT Futures workshop in Manchester in October.  I am currently working on the development of a new long-term transport strategy for Greater Manchester covering the period to 2040 and so have been wrestling daily with the challenges of trying to plan long-term transport requirements for a very uncertain future, so this event was very timely for me!

The day was carefully structured around different themes, with some very thought provoking contextual information and decision-making frameworks provided by Professor Glenn Lyons.  This enabled us to challenge the robustness of our traditional approaches to decision-making on future transport investment and to consider the range of biases that come into play when considering future scenarios.   The other interesting aspect of the workshop was that attendees were put into groups with others of a similar age for the day.  It was also fascinating to see how different age cohorts responded to the workshop sessions and viewed future challenges for transport, based on their experience and openness to different alternative future scenarios.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and look forward to seeing the outputs from the Future project – it will certainly be very relevant to our work in Greater Manchester in developing our long-term transport strategy and I’m sure will also be of interest to those working in other policy areas (such as land use planning, health, education, and so on).

TfGM have recently consulted on a new publication, Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040: Our Vision, the starting point in the development of a new long-term transport strategy for their city-region.

Greater Manchester’s final strategy is due to be published in 2016 and together with subsequent more detailed 5-year Transport Delivery Plans, will form their new statutory Greater Manchester Local Transport Plan.

Gordon Baker, JMP Consultants Limited and CIHT Futures (by Gordon Baker, CEO, JMP)

Currently, the UK transport sector is enjoying huge financial investment as projects are rolled out and suppliers engage with the ongoing challenge of resources.

In these very busy times, it is often too easy to be carrying on with the day job incessantly without any opportunity to reflect on the longer term impacts of what we are building and the decisions we are taking.

Historically, in a period of gradual and slowly evolving change, we were able to measure trends and, unhindered by capacity and resource constraints, to apply our analytical methods to “predict” the future. With hindsight, we can see now that our decisions were determining that future rather than predicting it.

Now, “the future is not what it used to be” and we face challenges of exponential change and a resource-constrained future. Do we need new tools and new approaches? Almost certainly, the answer is “yes”.

JMP was delighted to support the CIHT Futures project as an opportunity for CIHT’s members to reflect on current and future challenges and form a view on how we approach an uncertain transport future where our ability to forecast will be largely diminished and our decisions will determine the, as yet, unpredictable and perhaps unknown outcomes. What will that future hold for us and society at large?

Professor Glenn Lyons

Responsible stewardship of our future – Yes Minister (by Professor Glenn Lyons)

Transport policymaking is a tricky business at the best of times – whether as the Minister or the Permanent Secretary. There are many considerations, expectations and constraints. Ideologies clash with practicalities; winds of change buffet any course being steered. We would all, presumably, wish to make decisions that lead to a better future. However, what does ‘better’ mean and better for whom?

Those of us contributing in advisory capacities to decisions concerning policymaking and investment have our own perspectives and biases. Consensus can be hard to reach. All in all, while it may be a privilege it is also an unenviable task to have stewardship over how our transport system is evolving. Matters are made even more challenging in times of deep uncertainty when social and technological change is unfolding in ways that are not fully understood.

CIHT FUTURES is an exciting and important opportunity to look more closely at stewardship of transport’s future. There have been and will be, many exercises that seek to depict what the future might look like. They seek either to depict a desirable future and the steps we need to take to reach it, or will set out multiple plausible futures which underline the uncertainty we face. CIHT FUTURES builds upon and goes beyond such exercises to critically consider how we can responsibly inform and develop policy and investment approaches that provide us with the resilience and flexibility that can accommodate the uncertainty that faces us and assure a positive future.

I am really looking forward to engaging with other CIHT professionals who are prepared to bring open minds and critical thinking to this shared endeavour. We will need to become more mindful of our own preconceptions and prepared to challenge our business-as-usual approaches to transport development.

And who knows, if CIHT FUTURES makes its mark, it may even energise professional debate to the extent that it reaches the attention of the likes of The Rt Hon Jim Hacker MP and Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Futures Inspirations

Listen to how our Transport Planner, @DanielJTarry explains how @CIHTUK Future Inspirations can be applied to thinking differently about what our Future Transport system could be like #Future #Transport https://t.co/8saczGnWSa — WSP in the UK (@WSP_UK) May 31, 2018

Hear Jamie Hulland explain how the work of CIHT FUTURES Inspirations has inspired Devon County Council to change their way of working in the context of the Greater Exeter Joint local plan.