This year has seen us attend a host of events both here in the UK and in South America, proving that post-pandemic, the appetite for in-person conferences is once again strong. Podaris’ Head of Business Development and International Partnerships Rajinder Sharma recounts his experiences of three events hosted in the UK this October and November.
Local Transport Summit, Sheffield - 18th/19th October
The Local Transport Summit describes itself as a 24-hour residential discussion in a relaxed environment which brings together senior people involved in UK local transport from a range of perspectives including political leaders and decision-makers, transport authorities, and transport providers, advisors, researchers and activists. This year’s Local Transport Summit took place at Kenwood Hall in Sheffield. A key highlight was discussion around how transport could narrow the disparities amongst the local population in household income and life expectancy whilst achieving wider economic goals .
There was an update on both the context and detail of the Government’s new Network North proposals, with a focus on the additional funding that will be available for local transport in the North and the Midlands as a result of the cancellation of HS2 Phase 2. This was however presented alongside a counter argument that we do not need to go back to the drawing board and develop a new plan for the North, as we already have it in the form of its strategic transport plan, recently revised. This would require more skills and funding, but the size of the prize is more than £100 billion a year additional GVA by 2050, as well as meeting the North’s transport decarbonisation pathway to net zero and tackling transport related social exclusion. Greater clarity on funding was awaited in the Chancellor’s forthcoming Autumn Statement.
Interestingly in one of the panel sessions it was highlighted that vision-led planning is an imperative not a “nice to have”. Scenario planning was said to be a useful tool in not only dealing with uncertainty, but also in identifying a preferred scenario or vision, and taking key stakeholders on a journey. The need to present trade-offs clearly was considered essential.
Quality Bus Event, Leicester - 5th/6th November
Earlier in November, Podaris exhibited at the Quality Bus Event in Leicester. The event brought together many key players in UK bus to showcase how solutions are being delivered to areas such as passenger experience, bus priority schemes, partnership working, reducing operator costs and decarbonisation of vehicles. There was also discussion around optimising vehicle usage and routing, funding frameworks and economic, operational and business models, rural/peri urban services and DRT.
Keynote presentations came from Richard Holden (Under Secretary of State for Roads & Local Transport) and Sir Peter Soulsbury (Leicester City Mayor). In the afternoon, there was a special session on Local Authority Partnerships by Andy Gibbons (Programme Manager - Buses at Leicester City Council), Zoe Hands (Managing Director - Manchester, Midlands and South Yorkshire, First Bus) and Niki Park (Head of Passenger Transport - Community and Environmental, Norfolk County Council).
EEH Conference, Cambridge - 1st November
In November, Rajinder Sharma attended England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) annual conference at the Cambridge Guildhall. The conference bills itself as the place to hear first-hand about progress on the strategically transport infrastructure priorities for the Heartland region (stretching from Swindon to Cambridge and from Northamptonshire down to Hertfordshire), including East West Rail and strategically important roads.
Will Gallagher, Chief Strategy & Development Officer of East West Rail was in attendance, giving an update on rail in the region, and Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority and Dan Taylor, Deputy Director of Regional Partnerships & Delivery at the DfT highlighted the importance of regional direction and the role played by sub-national transport bodies (STBs).
The afternoon featured breakout sessions that included a presentation on DART in Luton and a joint presentation by Neil Davies from Atkins Realis and Trevor Brennan on the EEH Bus Strategy. EEH have collected some images and social media clippings from the event as a slideshow here
Towards 2024: Podaris at TRB Washington
A reminder that we'll be exhibiting a little further afield this coming January 7-11, for the 103rd Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
TRB’s Annual Meeting attracts thousands of transportation professionals worldwide with a program that covers all transportation modes, with sessions and workshops addressing topics of interest to policymakers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions.
This will be our first time, so we're looking for friendly faces! Let us know if you'll be there. You can find us at booth 1217. If you'd like to reserve a timeslot to meet the Podaris team, head over to https://meetme.podaris.com/meetings/devon-barrett/trb2024