Editor's Blog - August 2019

Some reflections on the conference 

  • Traditional models have based the trip decision on factors travel purpose, time, distance and cost. It is revealing how many times during the conference there was much broader thinking about desirability.  The paper by Peter Davidson talked about putting in a utility function for a destination.
  • One example is not just putting a destination as a “hospital” but whether it is a big, small or good hospital. Another example is that the “cost” of a road toll depends on a person’s ability to pay; Do toll roads cater for the average person? Along these lines, I was reading in the Aeon magazine that “The economics group at LML is attempting to redevelop economic theory from scratch, starting with the axiom that individuals optimise what happens to them over time, not what happens to them on average in a collection of parallel worlds”.
  • While talking about diversity, there were other examples of moving away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach and looking at specific segments. One paper had the title “One city many perspectives”; another “Improving the lives of families with young children – Good transport planning can make a difference”.
  • “A sense of place” is becoming more and more accepted as a concept of location design.  One of the papers was on Indigenous-led design. I really like the idea of reflection on Indigenous culture.  Yuval Harari in his book “Sapiens: a brief history of mankind” comments on how, before we had expansive transport, tribes developed some very personal and local aspects of their “place”. 
  • Each of the young professional award winners spoke at the Thursday lunch event. They were very good, not just in listing their education and current jobs but in defining how they want to make a difference. After the presentations that included expressions such as “tangible solutions”, “sustainability”, ‘Contextual nature of the issues”, “Social acceptance of the community”, “Experience outside the profession”, “Being drawn to complexity”, “Scope for creativity”, I looked across the table at a fellow delegate, whom I did not know, but we swapped glances that said “I don’t think I was nearly that progressive when I was their age”.
  • There was a paper titled “Horses for Courses”. I trust that was imagery rather than advocacy.

Transport for people with Disabilities 

For the radio documentary I have been commissioned to do on transport for those with a disability, I interviewed Johanna Garvin who has cerebral palsy.  She is a marvellous young lady who is the communications officer for Create NSW, the organisation that is the state Government’s agency for arts, screen and culture in NSW. She is also a board member on the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

As a strong advocate I asked her if she had spoken to any Institutes such as ours about the transport needs for those she represented.  She said 

“Not really the transport organisations, but I do try and talk to government. And that's why I kind of take my roles and create New South Wales is a great place because I hope that position and a sense to advocate for people within the sector. And I'm lucky in that I work with people that support that and encourage me to speak up about those sorts of things.

While many of our members may be involved in transport for special needs, I wonder, in terms of lobbying, if institutes and people in the profession might not create a better, direct relationship with these users. We usually think in terms of talking directly to politicians but getting some stronger common directions and a united voice could be more productive. 

When Walking is quicker than the Bus

When I visited ARRB in Melbourne I caught the bus back to the CBD to connect to the train service.  I was confused that the transport ap indicated that I should get off the bus at what appeared to be one stop before the train station.  I stayed on the bus but I noticed a lot of people got off early and started walking toward the station.

It soon became obvious that the locals knew what they were doing. The bus then averaged well below walking speed as it crawled its way along in heavy congestion. 

Bus priority is essential.