Transport Planning: the road ahead

Today, Curtins is delighted to celebrate Transport Planning Day.
The Transport Planning Society’s (TPS) event is in its second year and the Institution of Civil Engineers in London will be holding the event.

The Transport Planner has always played a key role in contributing to and improving our quality of life.

This year the event will bring together communities, local politicians and professionals, from across the built environment sector to discuss best practice in community engagement in transport planning.

It will also highlight best practice in bringing transport and land-use planning together and the importance of sustainable transport for housing developments.

Curtins is committed to developing the skills required to address these challenges. We are one of several organisations that have adopted the TPS Professional Development Scheme which, along with our in-house training scheme and the Curtins Academy, enable our staff to develop both the technical and broader skills necessary to meet the demands of their chosen profession and contribute towards the wider transport planning debate.

Transport Planning continues to evolve and develop. I have had the pleasure of working in the industry for over 35 years now, both in the public and private sector – starting in the ‘Traffic Section’ at Manchester City Council and now responsible for Curtins Transport Planning specialism in the UK and Ireland.

It’s still about moving people and goods but the environment we work in, along with technology, has influenced and changed the emphasis in some areas.

Transport Planning is a broad church. It plays a vital role in how and where we live, work and socialise. It influences land-use planning and the wider environmental agenda, including noise and air quality.

We all need to travel and by some mode of transport. Safety, highway capacity and car parking remain key considerations when developing transport strategies to support new developments, particularly housing. Solutions also include SMART infrastructure and intelligent transport systems; and more recently, provision for electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles (and self-driving vehicles in the next 10 years), cycle infrastructure and measures to support and encourage sustainable travel.

Over recent years a much greater emphasis is placed on ensuring that developments are accessible by all modes of transport, particularly sustainable modes and for vulnerable road users. Connectivity to local services, amenities and places of employment is a key consideration both to enhance mobility and create healthy and integrated developments.

Our profession covers a wide range of subjects and demands a diverse skill set. As with many careers, there are opportunities to specialise. This may include large scale strategic modelling, forecasting and developing business cases for major transport projects. At a micro level, it can extend to making sure that developments can be adequately serviced on a day to day basis.

Along with addressing the operational requirements, we often advise on the construction impacts, and associated mitigation measures, where major developments such as power stations, solar parks or wind farms have specific requirements to enable the project to be built – often dictated by their geographic location and the size and mass of the infrastructure components.

In the industry, Transport Planners are sometimes referred to as Highway Engineers, Traffic Engineers or Transportation Planners, mistakenly or otherwise (there are differences – some subtle, others not so much).

This demonstrates the diversity of our specialism and the opportunities therein, and sometimes it needs us to shout more about what we do!

In my experience, Transport Planning often attracts people from a wide range of backgrounds which creates an engaging and diverse environment to develop a career.

The work can be challenging at times but rewarding and varied; and provides many opportunities to engage with the public and other key players in our industry, including town planners, Masterplanners and architects.

So, as the population grows, technology changes and demands increase across all our transport networks, Transport Planning will have an ever-increasing role in developing and finding the right transport solutions for this generation, and those that follow.

Busy times ahead…for Curtins and all those in the built environment.