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Challenges and solutions for changing transport

Back in my student days, Economics Lecturers described transport as a “derived demand.”  In other words it only exists to enable some other demand to be met – whether for employment or business, personal commitments or leisure. But derived or not, transport more than ever underpins the essential services of modern economic life in an increasingly global and mobile world.

According to Professor Tim Brady, a member of the APM’s Transportation Change Practitioner Group, “The transport sector typically accounts for just over 40% of the investment in the five economic infrastructure sectors that keep the country running (the others are energy, waste, water and ICT).”  Transport brings significant benefits, but it also comes with huge costs, long lead times, and high intensity 24/7 operations, making it hard to change.

As one of the Enabling Change SIG’s industry change practitioner groups, we have spent more than two years studying the particular challenges of change in the transport sector, the things we do well, and sharing ideas, case studies and good practice with other senior change leaders.  As we did this we found we were facing many of the same challenges and independently coming up with similar solutions.  We identified a significant opportunity for bodies such as APM to help share this learning and good practice more widely and influence key policy makers, helping organisations reduce costs and improve change success rates.

This culminated in a report presented to APM senior managers last Autumn, with a dozen recommendations covering four themes: 1) competence, roles and training; 2) methods, tools and terminology; 3) business cases and measures; and 4) stakeholders and requirements.

Many of these recommendations are now being progressed by the Enabling Change SIG, but surely there is a more fundamental learning point here: there is so much opportunity for us all to get better at learning from others to improve success and avoid reinventing the wheel. What are your ideas for doing this?

Find out more about the Transportation Change Practitioner Group’s work at the “Changing Transport” event on 21st June near Heathrow, in conjunction with Thames Valley Branch.

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