A week at UTG – Friday

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?

It’s the last day of the week and the office is quiet with Tom out at a conference, Jonathan off to Montreal and Pedro at University in the afternoon. We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out a bit more about the day-to-day workings of the Urban Transport group through over this week. Keep following our blog and Twitter feed for more of what we’re up to.


UTG Finance group takes place in a month so it was time to get in touch with the group Chair (Dave Daughney, Head of Finance at TfGM) to go over a few outstanding actions. We’re hoping to put together some figures comparing changes in transport authority funding and concessionary spending (our members’ single largest financial commitment) over the past ten years but there are still a few colleagues we need to collect information from.

I also spent some time preparing for a telephone call the following week about Transport Scotland’s call for evidence to inform its National Transport Strategy. Colleagues from SPT are planning to respond and have asked for our thoughts. It turns out we’ve produced quite a lot of relevant material, not least our recent response to the RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission.

In the afternoon, I headed over to Sheffield for the last lecture of the year. The topic was the history of the public sector, and in particular what factors explain the decision of a country to introduce a permanent income tax. It turns out the UK was the first country in the world to do so, all the way back in 1842! Total tax revenue was less than 5% of GDP back then and has grown to 20-30% of GDP amongst developed countries. One explanation for this growth is the increased urbanisation and the pressure of public services (cue: transport infrastructure) which this has brought about. Which I think is what we’ve been saying all along…

Nicely rounding off the week, I bumped into Tim Foster on the train. He’s the Head of Economic Evidence at Transport for the North and we managed to catch up on a few things, including the latest developments with TfN’s Strategic Transport Plan. Exciting times ahead!


Today I went back to Bradford for the second day of the conference. It was a prompt start with the international breakfast briefing providing us with inspiration on schemes that are happening around the world.

The key themes coming through the conferences seemed to be how do we secure funding for our plans, and how do we make sure that there is political buy in for what we are trying to achieve. This was met with presentations on how we can move to normalise cycling and walking, and indeed how this is going to be vital in keeping our towns and cities moving.

Off for the weekend now, where I might have to get my own bike out after all this talk!


I was in the office first thing but then headed out to a hospital appointment for a few hours. It wasn’t totally wasted time though as there was a documentary on the TV in the waiting room called A1 Britain’s Longest Road!

Once I got back to the office I was mainly working on the taxis report again, which is starting to come together, though redrafting reports always takes longer than you expect!

I had a few comms related things to take care of, including some writing these blog posts and tweeting about how our members, in this case Tyne & Wear and Transport for London have been exchanging experience and sharing best practice.

I’m off camping for the weekend now, I hope the weather stays dry!


On route to Montreal today for the world’s largest public transport event – the UITP’s bi-annual congress.


On Saturday will be at all day meeting of UITP’s transport and economics commission. Great opportunity to learn from other countries about new and innovative ways of finding funding for public transport schemes given constraints on public spending.

On Sunday will be at the UITP’s taxi commission which will also be useful given taxis are at the frontline in terms of transformative technological change and new business modes. Will also be key in firming up the details of the UITP international taxi conference that we will be hosting in London in December.

So my week in the life of UTG has been a seven day week!



Well last nights’ second Eurovision semi-final discovered one of my favourites – Romania.  Who would have thought yodelling and rapping would work?  Only in Eurovision.

Today I posted Jonathan’s latest Passenger Transport Article on our website and then on our blog.

I also sorted out interview rooms for the Assistant Director post for June.

At lunch time I attended the retirement presentation of one of WYCA’s longest serving employees. Needless to say there were many tales of a bygone era told and plenty of photos with 1980’s fashions from the days that the former PTE, Metro was located in Wakefield.

This afternoon I sorted out a flyer for the upcoming Brexit seminar in June with our Brussels Team, answered a flurry of emails from Jonathan, and nearly sorted out that air quality teleconference with the Board, progressed on a new public health icon for the website, and sorted out Finance group arrangements for the June meeting.

Then I fixed another couple of meetings before heading home.

Looking forward to the Eurovision final tomorrow night!

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