2024 Project Awards Announced!

The Future Transport Visions Group (FTVG) is pleased to announce the 2024 cohort of projects awarded research funding through the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund (RJRF) .

After an engaging few month of workshops and collaboration involving over 60 participants, the FTVG Steering Group has awarded nearly £30,000 initial funding to five project teams.  Participants in each team will spend the next three months undertaking their project to shape the future of transport.

The five successful projects are:

Over the coming months we will feature each project in more detail with a project focus article.

All groups will present their findings at an FTVG Forum in 2024/5 where a winning project will also be selected.  Final project presentation showcase details are being planned with more details to follow.

Project collaborations commence after FTVG workshop series

2024/2025 Collaboration Workshops

The FTVG Collaboration Workshop series got underway between May 13th and 17th 2024, providing a forum for over 30 ideas to be discussed and showcased with the aim to attract a wide range of professionals to participate in a research project.

Each workshop was focused on a different research theme, with participants encouraged to network and collaborate within their area of interest, or across all themes.

Key project ideas discussed at each workshop are summarised below, alongside links to recordings of each session.  Anyone who couldn’t attend the sessions and who wishes to collaborate with any of the project groups should contact info@ftvg.co.uk to be put in touch with the relevant groups.

Decarbonisation and Sustainable Transport

Engagement and Behaviour Change

Modelling and Appraisal Processes 

Future Transport Technologies and Modes

Intelligent Transport Systems

Emerging Trends

 

 

 

 

FTVG goes live with collaboration workshop series

The second stage of the Future Transport Visions Group (FTVG) initiative 2024/25 starts on May 13th, with a series of six collaboration workshops held over the course of the week.

The workshops are intended to be a forum for participants to pitch research ideas aligned to one of six themes to a wider audience.  After the pitches are complete, all participants will be invited to network and form collaborative project teams who’ll then be able to apply for funding.

This year, FTVG received approximately 30 project ideas this year from 15 different countries.  Since its origins in the COVID-19 pandemic, FTVG has organised these online collaboration workshops to bring together project ideas and interests.  In the past, these events have helped cross-organisational and international teams to form, aligned to areas of common interest and a shared passion for a particular topic in the transport sector.

The workshops are open to all who may be interested in hearing the ideas being showcased.  Calendar invitations for all six sessions can be found here:

 

 

Applications open for 2024/2025 Funding!

2024/2025 Expressions of Interest Open

FTVG has relaunched with an expanded programme for 2024/2025.

The Future Transport Visions Group (FTVG) is now inviting expressions of interest for a new programme of research and development projects in 2024.

The initiative is targeted at people in the first ten years of their transport career, and provides a platform for them to develop research and innovation in collaboration with other like-minded professionals.  Applications are open to:

FTVG fosters collaboration; drawing together individuals with similar interests and ideas across multiple organisations and geographies.  All applicants entering the competition will be invited to a series of collaboration workshops to help form teams.  These teams can then formally apply for funding through the initiative.

The format of the initiative has changed based on feedback from last year.  It now includes an expanded programme, providing successfully funded teams with a 8-month window to undertake their project.  This year’s initiative will culminate at a transport conference, where all participants will get to present their findings, and the winner of our Outstanding Project Award will be announced.

Winners of the previous funding rounds have made valuable connections, collaborations and lead to further presentations, research and funding.

Applications can be submitted via the “Expressions of Interest” button on the top right of this page.

Whilst your ideas are free for you to choose, FTVG have specific interest in these areas

To express interest click here.

Deadline for Expressions of Interest is April 26th 2024

Timeline for the competition click here.

New committee members announced

FTVG logo

We are pleased to announce the expansion of the FTVG organising committee, enabling the group to broaden the support it can offer to project teams.  The committee has also appointed several new executive roles to assist in the running of the initiative.  These are:

Supporting our executive team are several transport professionals who will help to mentor and support projects taking part in the initiative:

More information on our committee can be found on our “Who’s Involved” pages.

FTVG 2024: Committee Roles Open

FTVG logo

As FTVG prepares to restart in 2024, several voluntary positions on the organising committee are open for applications.

The FTVG organising committee oversees the administration of the initiative; from the initial gathering of Expressions of Interest through to the selection of the Outstanding Project award winner.  It is formed of volunteers drawn across the sector who have a passion for supporting innovation and collaboration in the transport sector.

With FTVG looking to expand in 2024, there are opportunities to take on three “executive” roles with specific responsibilities on the committee.  These include the roles of Assistant Coordinator, Treasurer and Communications Lead.  In addition to these named roles, the committee is also looking to expand its pool of project mentors, who will be given the chance to oversee an FTVG project once funding allocations are agreed.

See the job descriptions below for more information:

Applications will be open until January 26th 2024 and can be sent to: info@ftvg.co.uk

FTVG 2022/23 Outstanding Project Award: Engaging Young People in Consultation

FTVG

FTVG are delighted to announce that Team EYPiC (Engaging Young People in Consultation) are this year’s winners of the Outstanding Project Award.

Formed of Bernard Fanning, Head of Digital Strategy and Innovation at The Nichols Group, and Dr. Gemma Bridge, an independent researcher based in Leeds, Team EYPiC aim to give people in the planning sector the tools to reach more young people in the consultation process.

Speaking about their project, Bernard said:

“We found that current participation in public consultations is limited, particularly from certain groups such as young people.  We decided to focus on this aspect in particular as we both felt younger people are often overlooked in the planning process.”

The group used funding from the FTVG initiative to host workshops with younger people to understand the barriers to their participation in planning processes, as well as undertake a literature review of existing techniques.

“When doing research that affects a particular group of people, it is critical to collaborate with them as early in the process as possible, and include them when developing outputs so that the outputs are actually useful”, said Gemma.

With this feedback, the group have produced a range of tools for consultation practitioners and planning professionals to better engage with younger audiences.

Their award win was announced at the Transport Practitioners Meeting in Greenwich, with the judges commenting it provided a “clear and concise summary document that will be of real practical use to the profession.”

The group have been awarded additional funding to continue developing the toolkit and spreading its reach to a wider audience.

Details of the tool can be found on the EYPiC website.

FTVG 2022/23: About Community Engagement

Scoring ACEs for Rural Community Engagement

Our final FTVG feature is on the About Community Engagement (Team ACE) project, formed of Katie Lamb from Transport for the South East, Agnese Polonara from Systra, with Abigail Harris, Carla Strimbei, and Ellie Hodges from WSP.

The project focuses on delivering “meaningful engagement”, particularly in rural communities.  Meaningful engagement benefits everyone and improves the success of transport schemes, empowers communities, and has the potential to stimulate behaviour change – all of which have a positive impact on environmental, economic, and social well-being.  Additionally engagement on contentious transport projects can be a key determiner of their success or failure.

Katie sets the scene further;

“Statutory engagement can often end up being a tick-box exercise and fail to reflect a true representation of people and their needs.  This can lead to people feeling their input does not matter.”

Many factors are often quoted as barriers to engagement, from lack of interest from the public, to lack of time and resources.  The team aimed to demonstrate how these barriers can be overcome in the context of engagement in rural communities, leading to the development of the ACE Toolkit – their website which acts as a one-stop-shop for engagement tips, tricks, and best practice.

Rural Matters

Team ACE were brought together by a shared interest in rural mobility at one of FTVG’s collaboration workshops.  Through the early stages of their project, FTVG provided funding and advice on how to focus their efforts.

“We were originally called the Rural Mobility Engagement Group, but thanks to the advice from the FTVG Steering Group, we decided to focus on engagement in rural communities as it is a key determining factor in the success of rural mobility schemes” said Carla.

In a rural setting, dispersed communities and more limited communication channels often mean that typical engagement methods aren’t always the most appropriate.  This challenge formed the basis for the project as it began, as Agnese explains;

“Rural residents can feel left behind when it comes to transport planning, leaving many relying on personal vehicles or isolated due to declining public transport options. Effective and meaningful engagement is key to tackling these issues.”

With a defined rural focus, the project’s first phase delivered a literature review and industry insights survey, before testing some ideas in rural communities.

Community Co-Design

The team recognised the importance of testing any proposed new approaches with the rural communities they were targeting.

“We worked in partnership with Somerset Council to conduct initial engagement on their Local Transport Plan update” said Abby, “We are very appreciative of Somerset’s willingness to partner with us and their trust in our approaches and process.”

Starting with an online engagement survey, the team tested preferences for different engagement approaches as part of the Local Transport Plan update.  They then hosted two public events in the villages of Dulverton and Watchet; and two focus groups with the Exmoor Focus Group and Somerset Bus Partnership, involving a total of nearly 300 participants.

The group reflected on the benefits and challenges this approach brought, with Ellie believing they were the most interesting and valuable activities on the project;

“These sessions gave us the possibility to test the findings and emerging tools. They were well received and offered engaging activities suitable for a variety of ages and abilities, generating discussion with several people asking questions about interventions”, she said.

Agnese agreed, adding; “It was interesting to hear how people talked about transport issues and needs of the whole community rather than just as individuals. This highlighted that engagement with rural communities can encompass the community as a whole, rather than specific issues impacting the lives of attendees.”

Carla noted that there were sometimes communication challenges when working in this environment;

“Sometimes we found it challenging to communicate the meaning of transport to our audience”, she said, “Some people did not engage, claiming that they did not use any form of transport, and they are unaware that this includes other topics including parking, roads, road safety, and active travel.” 

However, the team took away some valuable lessons having been out to rural communities;

“Thanks to the presence of community leaders and elected officials during the activities, more people got involved” said Abby, “They provided a friendly-face that initiated introductions to the topic on our behalf.”

The findings helped the team to reflect on common mistakes and best practice for engaging with rural communities.

ACE Toolkit

Based on the findings of their study, the team created the ACE Toolkit to provide a single source of information around how to start a conversation about transport, enable a co-creation process, gather support for a project, or find a solution to a transport issue.

These steps were summarised into an Engagement Roadmap which is now hosted on the ACE website to help guide anyone though the planning of an engagement event. Further resources including a worksheet and event planning checklist have also been created alongside this.

Ellie and Katie reflected on the two main lessons they took away from the project.

Ellie said, “For me this revealed the importance of community leaders and existing networks when starting out with rural engagement.  Community leaders are well known, trusted ambassadors for their communities who understand the challenges, needs, and existing networks of communication of those we were engaging with best. We would encourage involving them as early as you can.”

Katie added “I also think it is important to ensure your messaging is clear and tailored. Our research highlighted the need to provide a feedback loop to ensure those involved feel heard and empowered to engage again. This sets a clear expectation of what their engagement means to the project, policy, or scheme. As part of our efforts, we provided follow ups and links back to our toolkit so respondents could see how their involvement shaped outcomes from our work.“

The team hope to build a bank of resources through their website, enhancing it with blogs and updates as their research evolves.  They also wish to create a forum for rural engagement to be discussed amongst professionals that can truly pave the way from consultation to participatory engagement.

The groups key outputs can be found here:

 

 

FTVG 2022/23: The XT Junction Concept

Layout of XT Junction

Modelling team promotes the eXTra benefits of innovative junction design

In our second feature article about this year’s FTVG projects, we discuss the work done to research the benefits that could be generated by a different signalised junction configuration, known as the XT Junction.

The XT Junction team is formed of Omar M, a transport engineer for MDS Traffic Planners & Consultants, Elena Soboleva, a senior transport planner at Jacobs, plus Gautam Godavarthi and special adviser Steve Jones from Mott MacDonald.

Together with support from Emily Pittaway from Mott MacDonald on social outcomes, and Lior Steinberg from Humankind on urban planning, the project aimed to assess the potential benefits and drawbacks of the XT junction.

What is an XT Junction?

The XT Junction is a type of displaced right turn junction that has seen some limited use in the UK and USA.  It reduces the number of conflicts at t-junctions by introducing a second set of traffic signals on one approach of the junction that enables drivers to get into position for making or completing right-hand turns.

Originally designed to improve traffic flows, the team wanted to examine how the junction provides a more holistic and equitable range of improvements for all road users.

Omar defined the project’s goal as; “To advance the modern transport agenda in terms of sustainable and inclusive transport infrastructure for the future and support the UK’s aspiration of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Modelling benefits

FTVG provided funding support and access to expertise to contribute throughout the project. This support enabled the group to make wider connections and pursue research into the potential of the XT junction design.

The team modelled a range of hypothetical XT junction layouts varying in size and configuration using LinSig, Vissim, Sidra, and Infraworks software.

“We tested multiple scenarios using LinSig to benchmark the capacity savings and signal cycle time optimisation of the XT junction design compared to a standard T junction, with varying degrees of active travel provision”, said Gautam.

The team worked collaboratively across the UK, The Netherlands and Turkey to work through their ideas and consult with traffic engineering experts to ensure that their research was rigorous and informed.  The team explored where their junction design could deliver benefits to other road users to meet some of the challenges raised during the consultation phase.

Lior came into the project with these concerns front-of-mind; “My initial reaction to the XT junction was ‘wow this is cool,’ but on second thoughts, I realised it could create more complexity and confusion, particularly for vulnerable users”  he said, “But I came to see the potential of this innovation in reducing the need for wider roads and freeing up resources for active travel options. In the end, what may seem like a simple trick can lead to more sustainable solutions for all.”

The team found that the XT junction has the potential to increase capacity by up to 33% compared to a standard T junction, which can be used to benefit traffic flow, reduce congestion or improve crossing times for active travel modes.

The design can also potentially reduce operational carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 35%, which could help highway authorities and councils aiming to contribute towards the UK’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Commenting on the outputs, Elena said, “Our hope is that this inspires people to find innovative solutions to traffic problems without resorting to significant physical junction upgrades.”

The XT junction solution allows for more efficient use of the available space at a T-junction, creating additional capacity for both vehicular traffic and active travel modes without the need for major physical upgrades.

Real-world applications

The team want to restart the debate about the use of XT Junctions in the UK as a way to deliver on Net Zero ambitions and cater to the needs of more sustainable modes.

“We realised that the XT concept, while similar to some existing junction designs, was different in how it could deliver improvements holistically across a range of user groups – not just motorised vehicles”, reflected Steve upon completing the project.

His colleague Emily added; “All social benefits we’ve found in the design would be very minor if we only delivered it at one or two locations.  XT junctions would have to be rolled out on a larger scale for a tangible beneficial social impact to be realised, and these would to all need to incorporate pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to maximise the impact.”

The team’s next steps therefore are to promote the benefits of the junction to a wider audience and ensure the benefits they’ve calculated can be fully realised.

Reflecting on the road ahead, Omar concluded; “The outputs of the project could be used by transport planners and policymakers as part of their toolkit for improving the performance of t-junctions.  The project’s results should encourage transport planners to consider alternative designs that provide holistic benefits to active travel users and vehicular drivers while reducing environmental impact.”

The team will be presenting their findings at this year’s Transport Practitioners Meeting in Greenwich, June 28th – 29th.

Links to their papers and explanatory videos can be found here:

FTVG 2022/23: Engaging Young People in Consultation

Photo of young people collaborating

FTVG project aims for EYPiC gains in youth engagement

FTVG are pleased to profile the findings from each of their projects this year, and participants’ reflections on taking part.  Our first feature covers the Engaging Young People in Consultation (EYPiC) team; formed of Bernard Fanning, Head of Digital Strategy and Innovation at The Nichols Group, and Dr. Gemma Bridge, an independent researcher based in Leeds.

The project’s focus is to capture insights from young people (aged 18-25) to identify ways to better engage them in public consultations.  The project also captured views from key stakeholders across the public sector to understand their perceptions of the barriers and enablers to youth engagement.

“We were both initially interested in researching new ways of reaching out to wider audiences in public consultation, such as augmented reality”, says Gemma, “But as we delved deeper into these techniques, we found there was a much broader issue around getting people to engage with public consultations in the first place”

Bernard added, “We found that current participation in public consultations is limited, particularly from certain groups such as young people.  We decided to focus on this aspect in particular as we both felt younger people are often overlooked in the planning process.”

FTVG supported a series of networking sessions to bring people together with similar ideas, with both Gemma and Bernard joining the session on engagement.  They were then matched with two mentors and supported through a series of project milestone meetings with the FTVG Steering Group.

“FTVG provide loads of support”, said Bernard, “From the initial pitches, to understanding what’s expected. We have been supported financially as well as academically. I really enjoyed the Steering Group sessions whereby you get insight and critique from industry experts. This really helped frame the project and ensure a great end product.”

Engaging on Engagement

The team conducted a literature review to identify barriers and opportunities to engaging young people in public consultations.  They then conducted an online survey, which received over 250 responses, followed by three online focus groups with young people in England.  They also spoke to a range of planning and consultation professionals to gain insights from the wider industry.

Gemma suggested that, “Collaboration was key for us; with both of us working remotely, we used various tools like Notion, Super and Canva to compile the findings from all stages of data collection and draw out the key themes.”

The group were keen to ensure diversity within younger demographics was adequately represented too.  Gemma reflected on the work needed to ensure this was embedded into the project.

“We found it difficult initially to reach and engage with a diverse range of young people, but we were determined to make sure that we enabled as many young people to take part as we could.  We used a survey recruitment platform called Prolific and we collaborated with gatekeepers like colleges and youth groups to ensure we got a good mix of young people involved”

“Getting young people’s insights was fascinating”, added Bernard, “We reflected on what we understood about consultation at that age which was also very eye opening.  It helped to better understand what barriers they faced.”

The final interviews with industry experts helped to frame some of the issues and challenges and develop a clear and user-friendly set of recommendations.

Theory into Practice

Based on their research and industry feedback, Team EYPiC have now produced two support packs to give an outline to the tools and to better engage with younger people.  This includes a pack for schools about the importance of consultations and engaging young people and a pack for local authorities and organisations running consultations to summarise the recommendations.

A valuable part of the process was then testing these outputs with the stakeholder groups once more.

“When doing research that affects a particular group of people, it is critical to collaborate with them as early in the process as possible, and include them when developing outputs so that the outputs are actually useful”, said Gemma.

Bernard agreed, adding, “This was an important point for me in learning how to run a research project well.  Gemma was so adept as it is her background and skillset. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and learnt on the way how you can distil lots of data into key tangible takeaways.”

The group hope that these road-tested products can be genuinely helpful to transport practitioners in bringing more young people into the consultation process.  Bernard hopes it helps to emphasise that young people should not be treated as a single homogenous group;

“I hope that we have given decision makers food for thought when looking to go to public consultation. Our tool helps them to think about objectives, the setting of the consultation and should lead towards better outcomes.”

Gemma wants the legacy of the project to lead wider industry change when it comes to engaging younger people;

“At the moment, there are no specific regulations in England that require young people to be included in public consultations. It would be great if our toolkit could be used to promote to raise the profile of young people in consultations so that they can get their voices heard.”

The group will be presenting their findings at this year’s Transport Practitioners Meeting in Greenwich, June 28th – 29th.

Their engagement materials and research can be found here:

The team’s webpages can be found here: