A week at UTG – Thursday

The small team of staff at the Urban Transport Group has a big job to do in making the case for urban transport, in providing thought leadership on the future of the sector and in supporting our professional network so that our members can do more for less. You can find out more about how we do this here. However this week we thought we would show what this all means in terms of what we get up to at UTG in a typical week. This is using what we did Monday – Friday last week and we’ll be posting each day. Hopefully it will give an insight into the inner workings of the Urban Transport Group.

Why are we doing this now? In some ways, with general election purdah the week has not been typical with fewer meetings with Government. However, our Senior Economist, Pedro Abrantes, is leaving us soon so it seemed like a good opportunity to capture some of the things that he does. We are not advertising for a new Senior Economist but we are recruiting for a new post of Assistant Director so if you like the sound of our team then why not check out the ad?


Today was mostly spent meeting five potential comms consultants. At present we have no in house specialist comms capacity instead we cover comms between us with me taking the lead given my past experience in this area. We do a good job considering, but some extra resource will help us to maximise our impact and get more attention for the great work that we, and our members, do. Enjoyed meeting the diverse and talented five; making a final decision on who to go with will be tough.

There was also time for a really good session with Clare and Stephen Edwards, Executive Director of SYPTE and the lead board member for Capacities and Capabilities for UTG where we brainstormed some good ideas on tackling skills gaps among our membership and on how we can make careers in our sector more attractive at all levels to a more diverse range of people.


So I started the day up in Newcastle, as I’d stayed over, and met with a colleague from Nexus to discuss shaping the agenda for the next meeting of our Organisational Development group. It was great to get an update on what the challenges are in the HR and OD areas of our member organisations and explore ways that our group can support this area and develop best practice.

I also posted a blog about my and Tom’s adventures on E-bikes a few weeks ago.


On the train back to Leeds I caught up on some emails and did some writing (including these blogs!) and it was another super sunny train journey through Northern England.

Back in the office I was part of our Capacities and Capabilities catch up with Stephen and Jonathan, which was a really great session discussing skills in transport and the need to promote the sector. You can find our resources around this issue in the People and Skills section of our website. I’ve also written about this important issue on our blog.


Started off with a doctor’s appointment this morning so was in slightly later.

I submitted our mental health pledge to Time to Change.  It’s been a while in development but pleased it has finally happened. We plan to sign it at the end of this month to make it official. Drafted some text for the website pledge summary as well.

I also sorted out Jonathan’s mobile roaming with our IT department for his trip to Canada tomorrow.

Lots of phone calls to reception today as Jonathan is busy interviewing all the freelance comms consultancy candidates.

Entertained by Pedro clearing out his desk and massive library of books that has accompanied him during his stay with us, and the interesting things he has found hidden in his drawers.

Looking forward to the Eurovision semi-final number 2 tonight!


I started the day in unusual fashion, driving in rather than cycling or taking the bus, possibly only the second time I’ve taken the car to work in the past seven years! This is because it’s hard to cart home a ton of books on the back of a bike and it was time to pack up the library I’ve built up over the past few years. I was happy to find a good home for some of my old books with UTG colleagues and if anyone else is interested is in vintage transport/economics publications stretching back to the 1960s do let me know.

I took the chance to clear out a few piles of paper and I can now see the colour of my desk again. All in all, a bit of a sad start to the day… 😦

I spent the rest of the morning dealing with queries from colleagues regarding the smart card data project.

In the afternoon I turned to the recruitment of our new Assistant Director and started to think about our interview strategy. I also arranged to see a colleague at TfGM about the UTG’s future representation on the rail industry’s Passenger Demand Forecasting Council and agreed with the team who will be representing us at an exciting evening event on emerging data organised by Transport for the North and the Open Data Institute (Clare’s taking the baton but I’m still hoping to go – difficult to let go…).


Today I attended the opening day of the Cycle City Active City conference in Bradford, the largest active travel conference in Europe. It was a beautiful sunny day, which really helped to show off the new cycling infrastructure and urban realm work in the city.

There were some good session on what is happening locally and nationally with regards to walking and cycling development, as well as the Department for Transport talking about the recently released Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.

Following the event there was food and drinks, which provided a good opportunity to catch up with a few old faces and meet a few new people.

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