Reviews and Reflections
Professor Phil Goodwin is Emeritus Professor of Transport Policy, University College London and University of the West of England. He was head of the Transport Studies Unit at Oxford University for 16 years, before moving to UCL in 1996.
Having been (up to now) TSU’s longest serving Director, I was pleased to open the 50th Anniversary celebrations, with an assessment of its changing role over the years.
The arc of TSU has been an unusual one. The pre-history in the 1950s was intended as a focus for the intellectual activity of the transport industries. The Unit itself started in 1973, with Ian Heggie as Director, as a mostly detached part of the Economics Sub-Faculty, with almost no teaching, entirely self-funding, and research that was a challenge to the prevailing transport orthodoxy of economics-based modelling. When I was Director, it developed a strong research-based influence on policy, mostly in challenging the predominance of ‘predict and provide’ approaches subordinated to car dependence. At the height of this influence, in 1994, we were awarded an exceptional ESRC ‘centre of excellence’ designation, with 10 year funding based on rethinking traffic growth and replacing equilibrium methodologies by dynamic ones: that work was completed not in Oxford, but by the Unit decamping to London.
Arman Farahmand-Razavi is a transport and planning advisor and a business strategy professional. He is the joint editor of the TAPAS.Network.
Arman Farahmand-Razavi offers his personal reflections on a forum that embraced the big issues of our time, and how it has reminded him of past gatherings of the sector’s leading thinkers
REFLECTING on the 5th Annual Local Transport Summit in Brentford last month, I felt privileged to be part of a discussion that could come to be seen as a significant moment in the history of professional transport planning in the UK. The significance may not have been the event itself, or any of the individual speakers and their presentations. But after the traumatic experience of the past 18 months it provided a special opportunity to get together physically and to take stock of what had changed in the world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And the world certainly seems to be a different place, needing new approaches to addressing the very real challenges that humanity faces.