Before you plan your route to a job interview, or choose which train station to change at, somebody has already effectively planned your journey for you. Each route we take, each road we drive down, each tube line we use, and every cycle path we follow has been put there for a reason.
The specific trajectory of each route has been affected by many different factors, and has been planned accordingly by someone in a transport planning career. Once a route has been planned, its operations and services also need to be managed effectively by a transport management professional to ensure it is working efficiently.
What does transport planning involve?
The ancient Romans were arguably the first people to employ transport managers and planners. Their extensive network of Roman roads certainly required extensive planning and management, and some clever centurion chap definitely decided to make them all nice and straight.
In the modern world, transport management and planning is equally as important. Without these guys, transport routes, systems and policies would not be carefully planned, coordinated and improved. We would find train lines stopping in the middle of nowhere, roads leading to brick walls, and aeroplanes would just be flying around in the air not knowing where to land.
Careers in this area are beginning to change more and more, especially with increasing concerns for congestion, land management and environmental issues.
For instance, this subsector’s initiatives are starting to focus more on public transport and cycling infrastructure. These industry transformations and developments truly allow transport managers and planners to play an important role in balancing the needs of the economy, society and the environment.
Advances in technology are also affecting the work of this lot, as they need to adapt their strategies along with the rise in the electronic ticketing, barrier systems and transport information services which are improving the efficiency of everyone’s travel.
What does it take to be a transport planner?
Effectively, transport planning is concerned with the design, location, evaluation, analysis and assessment of transport routes, infrastructure and facilities. The rise of cycle paths, new train lines, and single lane roads being turned into dual carriage ways are all activities that result from transport planning.
These important decisions are all based on expert knowledge of environmental, social and behavioural science issues. These guys are in charge of developing transportation strategies which meet the needs of government policies.
An important part of a transport planner’s job is forecasting travel patterns through extensive research, statistical analysis of travel data, and the use of computer simulation programmes to help predict the effects of transport policy changes and improvements.
These guys need great commercial awareness, as well as a strong knowledge of budget issues. They also require excellent communication skills to liaise with public bodies, authorities, resident groups and politicians.
Every different mode of transport needs transport managers to oversee all transport operations. Their jobs can cover all kinds of responsibilities, such as managing ticketing processes, making sure that vehicles and equipment are made safe and secure, and dealing with the complaints of irate customers.
We all know that transport systems are not the most reliable things in the world and problems tend to happen regularly. These guys take charge when it all kicks off, making sure that everything gets sorted out efficiently and crises are averted.
Transport managers are not only responsible for passengers and equipment, but are also in charge of budgets. Consequently, they need to make sure that quality services meet tight financial constraints. They get involved with strategic tasks, which include providing advice on transport policies, and also have man-management responsibilities and direct customer contact.
Consequently, they need excellent logic, commercial awareness, and communication and negotiation skills. If you meet these criteria, and have an interest in keeping everything on time, and feel empathy rather than rage at the sound of “There is no Victoria Line service due to an earlier signal failure”, then this might well be the right road for you to take.