Act Travelwise Annual Conference

Review - Act TravelWise Annual Conference & AGM 2017

On the theme of 'Sustainable Travel in a Changing World', Act TravelWise held its Annual Conference & AGM on 17 January 2017 in Birmingham, which was very successful and lots of positive feedback was received from the 120 delegates. SYSTRA (formerly JMP) was the main sponsor, along with WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff and Motion.

For keynote speakers, Dr David Pencheon (Director, NHS Sustainable Development Unit) gave an excellent overview on how travel affects health and how the NHS affects travel; Professor Jillian Anable (Professor of Transport and Energy, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds) emphasised a distinction between truly revolutionary changes on which our efforts should lie and technological changes that are more of the same automobility paradigm. Both were very well received. Their presentations can be downloaded here as PDFs: David Pencheon / Jillian Anable.

Six sessions throughout the day (as numbered below) covered various aspects of how we as transport/travel practitioners should adapt to a changing world. The conference also helped build momentum for the two Act TravelWise sector-specific forums, one focused on NHS sites and the other on travel issues for businesses.

1) The Technological and Social Change session covered a wide range of topics and transport modes, with several recurring themes:

  • how technology can help transport to support changing lifestyles
  • how mobility is key to delivering transport as a service, not a product
  • that disruption should be accepted as normal, and
  • the importance of underlying infrastructure to support these new services

2) The New Approaches for Local Authorities session looked at:

  • the importance of getting buy-in from local bodies such as LEPs and influencing them to access funding
  • coordinating to making best use of regional and national initiatives
  • the benefits of learning from the past to ensure new projects provided quantifiable contributions to future visions such as supporting employment, reducing car km, increasing physical activity, creating cost savings and generating a good return on investment
  • the use and management of the ‘grey fleet’ suggesting it be a last resort for business travel
  • the importance of reviewing the need to travel
  • how crucial it is to provide easily available alternatives such as car sharing and car pools
  • the use of monitoring with the aid of emerging technology to achieve a significant reduction in business mileage and the associated costs

3) The Best Practice in the Business Sector session highlighted some key principles behind successfully engaging with the business sector and maintaining an funding legacy. Approaches presented included constructing a business case to support private sector investment, the value of social marketing and smart data, and avoiding using modal shift as the sole measure of success. There was enthusiastic support from delegates to utilise the new Act TravelWise Business Forum as an on-going platform to share further new ideas and best practice.

4) Segmenting the Transport Market: Tailoring Solutions to Specific Groups included five presentations on how best to boost active travel through targeted interventions among populations ranging from job seekers and migrants to the young and the old. In at least one example, the interventions appeared to pay for themselves whereas in other cases, there are capacity issues associated with scaling up the initiatives to reach more people.

5) The Launch Event for the Act TravelWise NHS Travel & Transport Managers' Forum saw presentations from practitioners on hospital car parking management, effective partnership delivery, securing revenue streams and gaining staff support. These provided valuable insight on managing travel demands and delivering travel behaviour change at NHS Trust sites. The Forum’s subsequent open discussion generated extensive dialogue between delegates on their own experiences in the sector.

6) The Workshop on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) built on some previous national events on the topic through case studies from Wrexham and Sandnes, Norway. It also introduced the topic for newcomers, including an emphasis on using SUMPs to address social sustainability (as opposed to just economic and/or environmental sustainability).

In her closing words at the end of the conference, Rebecca Dengler of Act TravelWise highlighted two presentations in particular that will impact on her work at local authority level. One was the strategy as outlined by Emma Young for working with LEPs and the other was the need as expressed by John Hacker (article here) to not become fixated on modal shift as the all-important indicator, but focus equally on the other positive effects of travel planning.

The conference presentations have been uploaded to the members' area of the website, along with all presentations from the two previous annual conferences and many other papers and guidance documents. There are however technical issues affecting access, which will be resolved by Monday 13 February, otherwise on that date the presentations will appear on the publicly accessible conference page as hyperlinks within the programme. We apologise for the delay.