UWE Bristol research leads international initiative to help transport planners respond to fast changing world

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Cover to the report

The way in which citizens move around cities and regions across the globe has been changing in unanticipated ways. This has left public authorities in a predicament as to how they plan transport infrastructure and services. UWE Bristol’s Kiron Chatterjee played a key role in an influential report recently published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) which sought to respond to this dilemma.

In 2019, Kiron was asked by the ITF to write a discussion paper for a working group on ‘Travel Transitions and New Mobility Behaviours’. This was on the back of Kiron leading an influential study for the UK Department for Transport examining the reasons for a decline in car driving by young people. While Kiron was writing the discussion paper, the world was hit by Covid-19 and people’s mobility was severely curtailed, increasing the significance of the topic.

The recently published report, Travel Transitions: How Transport Planners and Policy Makers Can Respond to Shifting Mobility Trends, discusses why breaks with past mobility trends occurred but were not foreseen and makes recommendations on how to plan for a future where very little is certain any more. Kiron oversaw the writing of the report and wrote two of the five chapters. UWE Bristol’s Glenn Lyons also contributed his expertise in writing one of the chapters.

The report highlights how travel behaviour has evolved in unexpected ways in urbanised areas at the start of the 21st century. It examines how significant breaks with past trends happened and why these shifts were not foreseen. It explains how forecast-led transport planning is not well equipped to handle deep uncertainty. The report presents new approaches which explicitly address uncertainty, are vision-led and enable the development of resilient plans. It also considers how governance and institutions can be adapted to support such a paradigm shift.

webinar was held on 20 September to introduce the report to a global audience and the report was also presented to an in-person audience at the 12th Transport and Communication Forum in Istanbul on 7 October.

Kiron and other speakers virtually presented the report

Kiron’s hope is that the professional transport sector will be more alive to how trends and events beyond transport influence people’s travel behaviour and that, instead of projecting forward past trends, it will focus on what outcomes are desirable and how to take steps to achieve them.

Kiron is part of the Centre for Transport and Society at UWE Bristol. Find out more about their work.

The ITF is an intergovernmental organisation, linked to the OECD, with 63 member countries. It acts as a think tank for transport policy and organises an Annual Summit of transport ministers. One of its activities is to convene working groups of international experts to conduct in-depth studies of transport policy issues identified as priorities by ITF member countries.