Transport Planning Camp — the title of the event immediately set the tone before I glanced at the description. The active use of “planning.” It was engaging and seemed alive and dynamic and immediately clear that this was going to be action-based, not passive listening — an exciting and radical departure from mainstream conference events.
Transport has always been a personal before a professional passion. Through living in varying environments, I’ve been exposed to a variety of transport problems. From a lack of rural bus routes, to the dominance of car culture around planned suburban development, transport has been an ongoing source of both frustration and hope. So, after a colleague flagged Transport Planning Camp to me as a “dev-opp” (development opportunity), attending was a no-brainer. It was an opportunity to meet like-minded transport nerds and learn more about the issues they cared about. I wondered if my transport worries would be shared by others.
The unconference style was something I had not been exposed to before and was slightly apprehensive about, but the first session immediately drew me in as we created the agenda for the day. This was idea generation, one of the most exciting and inventive aspects of camp where participants summarized their most pertinent idea on a post-it note and then moved around the room, swapping ideas and analyzing and awarding points for each thought. This built energy and stimulation for the sessions to come. I was thrilled when my post-it was noted as being most popular and placed on the board- “How to ensure that innovative/smart transport solutions are inclusive of isolated/cut-off communities.”
In that session, we discussed how mobility as a service (MAAS) can aid groups missing out on crucial transport networks. Combining post-it notes worked well, making session content even more innovative and interesting. Planning how MAAS could practically aid those in rural areas was engaging and energizing.
I was impressed by the follow-through commitment made for everyone to take up actions from the day. Mine was to “investigate links between MAAS and community transport as it applies to Big Local” to apply learning from the day to my work around improving small scale-community transport solutions for the Big Local areas, Local Trust work with.
From 9am to 5pm the ODI in Leeds buzzed with ideas, concerns and solutions. The energy was electric, and the scope for connecting with different people and learning about different parts of the industry was huge and maximized in a relaxed, informal setting where you could flexibly move from one session to another, take an extra tea break to have that in-depth conversation about decarbonization or have a side chat within a session about the intricacies of increasing freight traffic in big cities.
I’m eager to follow-through on my action, attend another Transport Planning Camp and continue discussing how we can shape a more connected world.