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THE VIEW Taking the Initiative Paul Hutton

ITS helps to make travelling safer, easier and quicker – but do we really need to travel as much as we do?

Paul Hutton is head of H3B Media’s Broadcast Services Division, founder of PH Initiatives and presenter of our Thinking Aloud podcast.;;;

stations, my job involved starting work in central London at 5.30am, around 35 miles/50km from where I lived. Trains weren’t running at that time of the morning so I had a 45-minute drive to get to work. Tat journey was usually fine, but depending on traffic the journey home could take me two hours. But it was necessary as I led a team of journalists and needed access to studios. When I moved into sourcing traffic


news, I was on the road a lot visiting information sources across the country. I went into the office maybe twice a week, generally for meetings and one- to-one training sessions with staff. But this was the time when email was really becoming a standard business tool and so with laptop and mobile phone I could do my job from just about anywhere.

HOME COMFORTS I thus discovered home working. It meant I could work more flexible hours, I didn’t have the hassle of a long commute, I was interrupted and distracted less and I got a lot more done. I didn’t work at home every day – that would have sent me stir crazy – but my days in offices were spent in conversations and meetings where I had to be with other people, but things like analysis and report writing could be done at home. Now, enough of what must look

like a not overly exciting extract from my autobiography. Te reason I tell you this is because I discovered a work balance that


allowed me to work extremely efficiently without having to travel as much as I had become used to. I was now considerately using the United Kingdom’s stretched transport network less meaning more space for fellow road or rail users and less stress for me. So why do so many people around

the world get on trains or into their cars every day to travel to jobs they could do remotely? Why do they need to travel at all? Most people don’t travel to factories any more. Te factory where they do their work is actually their computer.

PATTERN PENDING Everything we do in ITS is about using our oſten overloaded transport systems more efficiently. We see reports predicting huge increases in the number of car journeys and rail journeys in the next 30 years. However, when I’ve done a search on

the words “home working” or similar phrases in those reports I find few mentions of any acknowledgement that working patterns might change, meaning a change in travel patterns too.

Reducing the need to travel could be seen as part of the solution to traffic problems

hen I was a journalist for one of Britain’s national radio

In Britain we’re planning to spend more than £20 billion (around €24 billion) to build a new high-speed rail line to cope with increased demand from a relatively small number of people who’ll have to pay high ticket prices to use it.

BROAD THINKING Now look at Australia. Tey’re investing a similar amount of money into their National Broadband Network that will give connectivity of around a gigabit per second to 93 per cent of households and businesses in the country, and all but 2 per cent will have broadband speeds of 12 megabits per second. Tey’ve clearly decided that their priority is moving zeros and ones, rather than people. ITS needs to be part of a bigger

picture. We need to analyse working patterns and see if things can change. Imagine if everybody who commutes every day works at home one day a week. You may see people choose to work

❝ Everything we

do in ITS is about using our often overloaded transport systems more efficiently

at home on a Friday or a Monday so their non-commuting day becomes part of their weekend, but then others will choose to work at home midweek because they want to be in the city (or wherever) on a Friday so they can go for the aſter-work drink. On average, this would reduce the passenger numbers by 20 per cent a day. If they could work at home twice a week that’s 40 per cent. All it would take is for rail firms to

charge less for season tickets which allow use ‘x’ days out of the five working days to encourage people to travel less. It’d be a similar effect on the roads. ITS is essential for the future

prosperity of countries but should be one part of a wider analysis of our travel needs, with ideas that reduce the need to travel at all as much part of the solution.

Vol 8 No 2 Europe/Rest of the World

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