Transport planners told to model for outcomes


Transport planners are being urged to concentrate on desired outcomes of future mobility rather than simply predict how the future may turn out.

The London User Group Meeting of modelling firm PTV Group has heard the view that we are not, as many would say, on the cusp of a transport revolution, but that change will be more gradual and therefore a “regime transition strategy” is required.

Keynote speaker Glenn Lyons (pictured), Mott MacDonald Professor of Future Mobility at UWE Bristol, told the meeting planners must not be wedded to the idea that we can change everything with technology without addressing behaviour change.

“We must move from predict and provide to decide and provide”, he said.  “We should decide on a preferred accessibility future and outcomes and provide a means to move towards it in a way that accommodates the deep uncertainty ahead.”

We must rethink the concept of smart, he added by delivering connectivity in towns and cities that is affordable, effective, attractive and sustainable.  He said that sustainability should not be part of a smart future, but that smart must be part of sustainable one.

The meeting has also heard from Dr Jaume Barcelo, strategic adviser to PTV Group on Transport Modelling at UPC-Barcelona Tech.  He warned that there is danger in extrapolating from current trends because systems are dynamic and can be chaotic.

Dr Barcelo added that planners must not just think about the movement of people but goods as well.  “New models must integrate all components of the transport system and their interactions, learning how to work with them,” he said.  He summed up the future as WISE – wellness and walkable, intelligence, sustainable, economy and ecology.

PTV UK Director Devrim Kara commented, “The keynote speeches of this year’s User Group Innovation Day really focussed the thinking of the country’s finest transport modellers.  It is clear that there is a move from using modelling to work out what will happen in the future to planning what we want to achieve and modelling a system to deliver that.  The good thing is that PTV Group, with its 40 years of transport modelling expertise, is perfectly placed to help planners do this.”

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