Laura Fitzgerald is a Transport Planning Consultant at Mode Transport Planning, based in Reading, UK.
My professional career is within the transport planning industry; specialising in the planning of development and the assessment of people movements to/from/within these developments which include leisure and retail, employment, and residential.
I had the opportunity to undertake a Master’s degree in Transport Planning and Practice at the University of Surrey, that was taught by professionals from within the industry to cover a range of modules that reflected industry areas and best practice. This was really helpful to put the wider transport industry into perspective and open my knowledge to areas beyond development planning itself.
Academic studies are helpful, but my progress through the industry has been mapped out by the opportunities available within an SME environment. From an early stage in my career, I was attending meetings and being exposed to external clients, teams and the general public. These opportunities allow for rapid learning and development of skills and experience. I’ve worked for 4 SME’s in my career and they all have all contributed towards this and continue to do so today.
I am responsible for a regional office at mode, so I have a varied role where no two days are the same.
I’m still involved in project work and liaise regularly with Clients as well as briefing and mentoring my team to deliver projects to a high standard. Building relationships and bringing in work is a key part of my day to day activities.
I now also have responsibilities relating to HR, finance and management as well as contributing to the wider marketing and research goals of the business. This year, we’re looking at giving back to the community and I’m really excited to be working with some local charities as part of our day to day operation.
Transport planning as an industry focuses on the movement of people, by whatever mode of travel, to/from/around a proposed development and considers whether the interaction of the development to the surrounding area will alter the existing movement patterns (and if so, is this a capacity or safety concern). The level of analysis and review depends on the location of the proposed development (urban or rural) and the existing infrastructure available within the location.
To work in this industry, you need to be adaptable to a range of situations. This can vary from calculating traffic flows and reviewing junctions models, to interacting with the public at exhibitions. The ability to remain calm, work to deadlines and provide common sense advice in a clear and understandable way to your audience are the key skills we would look for.
Transport planning is essentially the planning of the movement of people to/from/within a proposed development. On this basis, the planning of the place and interactions within the surrounding area are key considerations putting geography at the heart of transport planning.
Since transport is a fundamental consideration in developments and an emotive factor to the general public, we get involved in all types of developments, which allows for a real diversity in projects coming through the office. Every project is different and needs a slightly different approach, so there is no monotony in our job.
Yes absolutely. We are required to undertake site visits to potential development sites and all the team involved in the project delivery will come along to the site visit.
There is also a lot of meetings to attend from design teams (architects, Planning Consultants etc.) and meetings with our counterparts in the representative Highway Authority. Other aspects such as Travel Forums or Public Exhibitions also require travel to the location of the development.
In an SME a Transport Planning Consultant can progress through the industry based on their skills and personal development, there is no ceiling or fixed grade time periods. The benefit of an SME is the ability to be involved in a range of areas throughout the lifespan of a project resulting in a high-level of exposure from an early stage in ones career.
Look into the profession and search for local transport planning consultancies. We regularly get asked for work experience opportunities and we also work with Santander Universities to deliver internships. There are lots of options to trial transport planning or to meet with professionals within the industry.
I’ve always enjoyed traveling and exploring, so I do tend to try and squeeze in opportunities for breaks around the country and world whenever I can! My last trip was a road trip through Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina – it’s such a mix of geography disciplines!
I’ve always had an interest in geography and I think it stems from a number of excellent teachers at school. I always enjoyed the subject and the real life learning that was required, and this carried me through my academic life.
Ultimately, you have to choose a subject you enjoy and are interested in. The benefit of geography is that it is so diverse, it offers a lot of different areas to study and work in.
Job Title: Associate DIrector, Transport Planning Consultant
Organisation: Mode Transport Planning
Location: Reading, UK
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