Transport Planners Strike Gold

Abigail Evans - Meinhardt (Thailand) Ltd.

Abigail Evans of Meinhardt shares her thoughts on the brainstorm.

Set in downtown Bangkok, the brainstorming session started slightly later than expected due to many people being stuck in traffic! How appropriate for our event where we were given the task of reducing emissions from transport and improving air quality by 50% by 2035.

In learning my trade as a transport planner I was told I would be very rich if I could solve the world's traffic problems. Could this evening’s event be an opportunity for this to happen? Attendees from different professions related to energy, transportation, climate change, technology, commerce, architecture, engineering and government could all freely offer their ideas to 'Change the World' and decide how to reduce transport emissions massively in the next 22 years. 

Attendees grouped into 11 tables with pens, cards and voting remote controls, and Bernie Lo inspired us to get into gear and brainstorm our ideas from a Government, Individual, or Business perspective.

Our table and I believe most other participants were very focused on how to reduce transport emissions in Bangkok. This is one of the biggest challenges in South East Asia along with the situation in Jakarta. The topic was relevant. In Bangkok there are more cars (7.5m) than there are people in Singapore! In the last 12 months there has been a rapid increase in car usage in Bangkok due to the Government's first car tax relief scheme. This contradicts the gradual shift in public funds from road to public transport.

So, with the scene set what solutions did we develop to achieve the aim of reducing emissions from transport? What was evident is that there is no clear cut solution. Here were some ideas:

  • Encourage and implement home/tele-working and reduce the need to travel to work everyday
  • modal transportation / car sharing
  • Integrated transport and land use strategy and influencing travel patterns through location of development
  • electronic self driving vehicles along with incentives from Government to use cleaner fuels
  • Free Public Transport for all - funded by taxes on everything else
  • Holistic and Integrated transport strategy with huge investment in mass transit and complemented by travel demand measures and commercial investment around mass transit stations
  • tax on carbon usage and invest monetary returns on sustainable transport
  • Eliminate Air Conditioning!
  • Aim to limit personal travel time from home to place of work/kids schools to 30 minutes each way

As a transport planner I have my own views on what can work in a city. It was widely agreed within the group that an integrated transport strategy with large investment in mass transit would be the way forward. There is no doubt that a seamless public transport network not only reduces traffic growth but also provides more social inclusion and accessibility for people who do not own a car. However, evidence from other cities suggests the majority of trips by MRT/LRT etc are made by what were previously bus passengers and not car drivers. To achieve a 50% improvement in Air Quality in 22 years I believe a more technological approach is necessary. Car manufacturers and power companies can lead the way with this.

In conclusion the responsibility of reducing emissions from transportation lies with:

  • Governments - To implement sustainable transport strategies and tax on carbon usage
  • Businesses - energy and power companies specifically will need to shift to marketing cleaner fuels and technology
  • Individuals - ultimately we are each responsible for how we choose to travel and our energy usage.

Abigail Evans is an Executive Transport Planner at Meinhardt (Thailand) Ltd with over 12 years international experience in providing advice to the public and private sector on development and transport projects. As a team member of the Asian Development Bank and World Bank mission project in 2009, she has helped develop the recommendations for sustainable and low carbon transport initiatives for the Government of Vietnam. 

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Transport Planners Strike Gold

Abigail Evans of Meinhardt shares her thoughts on the brainstorm.

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