Academic: 1st class degree in Transport (BSc), University of Plymouth (1997). Topics included transport economics and planning, statistics, data analysis, systems theory, policy, marketing, accounting, logistics management, port operations, and maritime history.
Dissertation, “The Use of Pipelines for the Urban Distribution of Goods”, researched the history of capsule pipelines and analysed their potential contribution to contemporary urban transport. Published in the journal Transport Policy (5, 1998, 61-72), and republished as a “classic” paper in logistics analysis (Transport Logistics, Alan McKinnon, Kenneth Button, Peter Nijkamp, 2002). Subsequent research within the archives of the British Library and Royal Society (London) was published online.
Professional: CMILT, Chartered Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport (2001), since lapsed.
School: A-levels in Economics, Geography and Physics (1994). 10 GCSEs, including English and Maths (1992).
Service Planning Assistant, London Underground (1995): Ad-hoc operational and strategic analysis. First to analytically demonstrate the importance of the inherent variability of rolling stock availability in service delivery.
Policy Officer, Birmingham City Council, Highways and Transportation (1997-98): Financial monitoring, bid preparation, scheme illustration, public consultation. Pioneered the use of Geographic Information Systems to manage bid proposals across the West Midlands.
Consultant, The TAS Partnership, Preston (1998-2004, including period as freelance): Analysis and research encompassing commercial local bus market development, national government policy on local passenger transport, and partnership working. Policy modelling, takeover advice, project management, client liaison, conference presentation, software tool development, staff mentoring. Lead practitioner-driven research that changed the way Whitehall legislated for Quality Bus Partnerships.
Consultant, DHC, Edinburgh (2005-2015, including substantial gaps and periods as freelance): Transport policy analysis and research, including web Application and Geographic Information System development, and production of official National Accessibility datasets. Won STAR award for research on rural Park and Ride.
Self-employment (2006-2015) included the creation and operation of the internet’s top-ranked guide to fishing, read by millions. Backend engineering at scale, data management, front-end design, content writing, web analytics, video animation, social media community engagement. Built annual turnover up to $10,000 from nothing.
Subsequently (2016-2019) in Spain, conducting private research to inform rail market entrants, and programming transport network visualisation software.
Spreadsheet/Database: Excel/OpenOffice – including lookups, statistics, forecasting. Access – including data models, form design, ODBC, basic DAO. MySQL – including basic SQL, scripting via Python/PHP. Occasional work with SQLite and MSSQL. Dataset familiarities include UK demographics and public transport open data.
Geographic Information Systems: QGIS, previously MapInfo – primarily for spatial data analysis/visualisation (especially demographics) and boundary/route processing. Web mapping libraries – Leaflet, previously OpenLayers, Google and Bing. Geoserver/PostGIS – limited, including creation of bespoke tile server.
Digital Visualisation: Web – HTML 5-ish, core CSS, user interface, responsive/accessible design, writing, content management. Bitmap graphics – basic GIMP, previously Photoshop, including layers and CMYK plate production. Vector graphics – basic Inkscape, previously Freehand. Video – basic Vegas, plus Machinima-style animation.
Core MS Office and similar. Various social media – including forum community moderation, mass public Twitter interaction, Youtube content creation.
In More Detail
Educated at Caterham School. Obtained 10 GCSEs, including English and Maths, and A-levels in Economics, Geography and Physics. Studied at the University of Plymouth: Transport economics, policy, planning, systems theory, statistics, data analysis, marketing, accounting, logistics management, port operations, and maritime history. Also wrote and laid-out the student magazine “Fly”, using desktop publishing (Pagemaker), vector (Freehand) and bitmap (Photoshop) graphics software. Awarded 1st class BSc degree in Transport.
Dissertation, The Use of Pipelines for the Urban Distribution of Goods, researched the history of capsule pipelines and analysed their potential contribution to contemporary urban transport. Published in the journal Transport Policy (5, 1998, 61-72), and republished as a “classic” paper in logistics analysis (Transport Logistics, Alan McKinnon, Kenneth Button, Peter Nijkamp, 2002). Subsequent research within the archives of the British Library and Royal Society (London) was published online. That website grew to become the main non-technical reference on capsule pipelines – well regarded by those within the industry as an introduction for potential clients.
As a student, provided on-train customer support and travel information to passengers of Intercity Cross-Country and Regional Railways, via the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership. And as a Service Planning Assistant for London Underground, produced ad-hoc analysis of network-wide service delivery and planning issues: Analysed (primarily using Excel) rolling stock maintenance regimes to reveal the impact of variability, highlighting a previously ignored determinant of a key performance metric (trains in peak service). Redesigned sub-surface (Circle/District/Met) railway patterns to better match passenger usage, including changes that were eventually implemented. Assessed the (lack of) feasibility of creating a physical scale model of the network to test and visualise operational scenarios.
Joined Birmingham City Council as a transport policy officer specialising in Transport Policies and Programmes – finance. Designed and implemented a Geographic Information System to coordinate proposed transport infrastructure schemes across the West Midlands, replacing the traditional pinboard with a MapInfo frontend and Access backend, in a networked structure capable of being shared across all the metropolitan area’s transport authorities. This management system allowed duplicate geographic proposals to be quickly identified and resolved, and fed the associated financial costs into the Package funding bid to central government, easing decision-making on the core annual funding settlement.
Also prepared non-TPP funding bids, including those for European Regional Development Funding – notably for Birmingham coach station. Contributed to the development of the proposed Frankley railway line, including route and operational planning, organising land ownership searches, liaising with infrastructure manager Railtrack, and supporting directors in public consultations with residents. Undertook on-street public consultation for the Birmingham city centre tram extension. Managed the policy client role for Birmingham’s Urban Traffic Control system – monitoring service delivery, coordinating with highway engineering consultancy, and maintaining an awareness of new and upcoming UTMC best practice. Completed (via Nottingham Trent University) a course on traffic signal design.
Became a Consultant with The TAS Partnership, a title which expanded with the business. The core role provided analysis and research in three areas: Local market development for commercial bus businesses, national government policy on local passenger transport, and partnership working between public and private sectors. Further responsibilities were gradually taken on in support of the consultancy business itself: The creation of new software tools and the provision of associated staff training, the line management and mentoring of junior staff, and writing and costing proposals to secure future contracts.
Piloted the local bus network market development techniques subsequently deployed nationwide by First and Stagecoach: Built census-based geographic models using MapInfo and Access, with some script automation, which allowed route demographics to be rapidly analysed. Processed Electronic Ticket Machine data using Q-data to expose current performance. Comparison identified opportunities for growth. Structured and reported the results to allow local operating units to justify investment from their parent groups. ETM was proto “Big Data”, each dataset consisting up to a million revenue transactions per day.
Built a gravity model of Northern Ireland Railways – primarily from Census travel-to-work data – when the expected passenger data did not materialise, keeping the project to develop NIR’s business “on track” and forcing the railway to challenge proposals constructively. Processed surveyor-captured performance data from across Greater Manchester, to reveal the causes of variability in bus services: Substantial statistical analysis had to be communicated to non-statisticians, including bus company managers and politicians.
Coordinated and analysed patient transport surveys at Northallerton hospital, using the results to propose and schedule new bus services which were subsequently contracted by North Yorkshire County Council. Converted the Dengie’s fixed bus services into Demand Responsive Transport, surveying user behaviour and analysing existing bus usage to deliver a more operationally efficient network that retained prior accessibility. Contributed to establishing new Community Transport organisations, such as cross-community Moving People Together in Belfast, costing depot space and sourcing funding.
Modelled the cost of extending Britain’s national concessionary (bus) fares scheme to people with disabilities: The cost of shifting a non-statutory local government provision into a single scheme. Included elasticity calculations, both in existing scheme arrangements (which required operators to be “no better or worse”) and in predicting demand changes. Assessed the prevalence of relevant disabilities in local populations. The Local Government Association’s own information was inferior, which allowed the Department for Transport to dominate negotiation regarding funding allocations.
Similar projects were not so visible. For example, same-day Cabinet Office requests to assess the national impact (on costs and mode shift) of changes to statutory education transport, or an increase in the minimum driving licence age. Both policies were capable of shifting long-term transport behaviours dramatically. Such requests required both prior immersion in, and rapid rearrangement of, related data sources.
Led primarily qualitative research into Quality Bus Partnerships – local public-private agreements that were consequently formalised in the Transport Act 2000. Managed a team of remote investigators, produced case studies, briefed civil servants, organised consultative conferences, and wrote official practitioner guidance. The Department for Transport had expected an infrastructure-driven conclusion, but instead the results emphasised the importance of local, often quite personal, structures and relationships in delivering successful joint-working. Consequently the final legislation consisted more process than engineering.
That legislation spawned an opt-out from competition law, which itself entailed a “partnership”: Office of Fair Trading economists and bus industry managers, each understanding the same market differently through their own experiences and training. All while the OFT were investigating the other for unrelated anti-competitive practices. I provided the breadth and experience to understand, and thus arbitrate, both positions.
Analysed the trends and patterns in costs across the entire bus industry for three separate clients – industry, civil service and policy commission – to enable each to understand the impact of proposed changes to Fuel Duty Rebate (now BSOG). The underlying “Stats 100” dataset was commercially sensitive and required bespoke industry permission to work upon. The output described scenarios, many of which evolved with discussion, breaking down the financial impact into different geographies and ownerships. That repeatedly informed decision-making, albeit conferring pragmatic policy management, not revolution.
Much analysis was performed using Excel (lookups, statistics, scripting), with MapInfo deployed for geographic patterns, and Access or Paradox for large relational datasets. Most consultancy projects required report-writing (in Word), client liaison, and sometimes personal presentation (using Powerpoint). Audiences ranged in diversity and background from academics and senior civil servants, to operational managers and community volunteers – requiring different approaches to style and structure. I learnt to address conferences full of senior local government officers, and to be unfazed when holding court with directors of multinational public transport companies.
As TAS expanded, staff were recruited who needed training, guidance and structured workflow. I developed and documented software tools and processes for this, constantly adjusting for the needs of each new employee. That allowed the business to earn more work, and ultimately helped one person – who I initially managed – rise from ex-bus driver to company director.
Joined Derek Halden (DHC) as a full time Consultant, later working on an ad-hoc freelance basis. Initially a similar role to TAS but with greater emphasis on Scottish transport policy: Reviewed alternative methods of assessing eligibility for concessionary fares. Evaluated local transport provision in north-western Skye to rationalise overlaps across education, dial-a-ride and post bus contracts. Analysed the price premium of multi-operator public transport ticketing schemes. Quantified the socio-economic impact of the Skye Bridge, including analysis of trends for competing modes. Assessed access to healthcare at Glasgow’s hospitals, specifically aimed at integrating Traveline journey planning information into the patient appointment booking process.
Managed user surveys at Ellon’s Park and Ride, combining the results with analysis of performance data to provide recommendations for improvement and expansion. Promoted the concept as a policy tool for public transport development in rural hinterlands, winning a Scottish Transport Applications and Research award for the work.
Attained Chartered Membership of the Institute of Logistics and Transport (CMILT). Organised IoLT‘s Scottish “young professional” conference – arranging speakers, program and venue.
Developed (in Access) an internal time management and accounting system, to better monitor the financial management of consultancy projects. Crafted a consistent image for DHC’s external reports, both designing graphics and programming Word templates/macros. Implemented and maintained several (MySQL) database-driven websites, primarily on WordPress, writing PHP and CSS code to create custom features and visuals, and scripting (in Python) backup processes.
Active in Edinburgh’s tech entrepreneurship community, advising several startups on the availability and potential use of public transport data, most notably Skyscanner – part of a market subsequently labelled “Mobility as a Service”.
Researched, created, and for a decade maintained one of the world’s most popular guides to fishing. The guide distilled down statistical (probabilistic) patterns into simple, but reliable, answers to questions such as how or when to catch specific fish. The novelty, that the world the guide described was (at the time) the most complex virtual environment ever operated. The underlying human societal structure therein placed particular importance on accurate, immediately digestible information: Success demonstrated how authoritative information can be fostered within large internet communities. Information was presented as a narrative, the supposed author inhabiting the world she described: The use of storytelling to humanise data patterns.
The success of the guide – read by millions, with hour-peaks exceeding ten thousand – posed potentially fatal technical and commercial challenges: Traffic exceeded that of most corporations, with servers routinely targetted by hackers intent on stealing and reselling user accounts with a grey-market value exceeding stolen credit cards – yet with no formal legal model of ownership and thus no way of obviously extracting revenue. In response, I rapidly learnt the business of affiliate marketing, generating up to $10,000 annually. That allowed deployment of (then) cutting edge technology – from server virtualisation to early Cloud deployments – all while simultaneously re-engineering the backend to minimise computation and make design assets more inherently distributable.
The work spawned related social research projects: Used survey data to correlate the behaviour of virtual and physical anglers, suggesting behavioural transferability. Documented virtual “feudalism” in teen worlds and the role of virtual property in online societies, actively contributing to legal and policy discussions.