Frequency’s Managing Partner, Jonathan Barry, flew across the pond to Germany this month, to attend The Future of Transportation Conference in Cologne, Germany.

There were over 160 speakers, covering a range of topics, stretching over two days. Speakers explored many facets of transport and delved into the subject of ‘What Next’.

“The Future of Transportation World Conference will bring together world transportation leaders from automotive manufacturers and their suppliers, transportation authorities and city planners, rail and public transportation technology firms and operators, technology and software giants, drone and personal air transportation solution companies, freight and logistics companies, mass-transit solution providers, business consultants, inventors of new and disruptive global mobility solutions, all with the common goal of devising better solutions for the increasingly demanding challenge of providing safe, efficient, sustainable transportation for the world in 2030 and beyond.”
(Excerpt taken from: The Future of Transport Conference)

As Jonathan travels back to NZ with these ideas still fresh in his mind, we asked him to answer a few questions and share what he has learnt from his thought-provoking experience.

Why did you want to attend the conference?
Mobility and transport infrastructure is at an interesting place. The growth of the EV fleet, the emergence of automated cars, personal airborne transport systems (PATS) and the quickening pace of technologies has the potential to significantly impact how we travel in the future, and the shape of future infrastructure assets, which are typically expensive and have long planning and implementation timeframes. There will also be significant changes to the way we fund our future transport assets, how we prioritise access and place a time value on the use of our network.

Who was the most inspiring speaker/subject matter?
Actually, the most inspiring was the most pragmatic. There was a lot of discussion early, led by the visionaries of what transport could look like, who felt that Automated Vehicles would make rail obsolete and change the way our cities are designed and operate. A second wave of speakers were far more pragmatic and sure of the future. Their views included, that no other form of transport can move as many people in a confined spacial corridor as rail; Fully Automated cars are a long way off from technology, infrastructure and legal / regulatory perspectives. The future will include change and disruption, but not at a big bang pace, it will be a steady, step change that best uses the trillions of dollars already invested in transport infrastructure.

What was the most interesting thing you learnt?
It was probably more of a realisation than a specific piece of information. The challenges we are facing are the same as what the rest of the world are grappling with and I think we are making good progress by comparison. Every country has a funding gap between what infrastructure they need and what they can afford and all are concerned about how the future of transport will unfold, we are not alone wandering and worrying about these things.

Would you recommend others to attend and would you go again?
Yes, most certainly. Going to these conferences and hearing the challenges of the rest of the world makes you understand that New Zealand punches well above our weight in so many ways. The quality of our infrastructure assets and surety of funding is very good. Our approach to transportation challenges tends to be a steady, considered one, essential when we are dealing with an asset of the importance and value of our national transportation network. There was a lot of discussion about the importance and need for enhanced customer care and passenger experience, which is an area that Air New Zealand and Auckland Transport have been focusing on for a long time, so I think we are well ahead of the game in many areas.

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