TSU Seminar Series

Seminars were delivered during Hilary Term (January - March) 2008 in the School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford.

For more information on this seminar series, please contact


Steve Atkins
Week 1: 3pm, 17 January 2008, SoGE

Transport and Social Sustainability

Stephen Atkins, MVA Consultancy.

Sustainable development is commonly regarded as having three constituent elements: environmental, economic and social. While the relationships between transport and the first two pillars of sustainability are now generally well known, the connections between transport and social sustainability are less well defined and less well understood.

Definitions of social sustainability generally reflect a concern about the rights of individuals and communities to enjoy the pursuit of healthy and socially rewarding lives, free from discrimination, danger, crime and anti-social behaviour. These definitions incorporate a commitment that people should be treated equitably, and with dignity and respect. Social sustainability also reflects a concern about the distribution across society of non-material goods and well-being. In the United States this has become known as "environmental justice".

In this seminar, Steve Atkins will describe and explain some of the connections between transport and stable societies and speculate about how this information might be incorporated within transport appraisal methods. The Government's intention to refresh the New Approach to Appraisal provides an opportunity to promote new thinking on these issues.

Steve Atkins is a highly experienced transport planner with a background in transport policy and research. Steve was previously a lecturer at Southampton and Portsmouth Universities and has also held senior positions in London Transport, Southampton City Council and the Strategic Rail Authority. His work has covered topics such as transport and personal security, the impacts of highway capacity reduction and transport and sustainable development. He is a former Charirman of the Greater London Branch of IHT and a visiting Professor of Transport Policy at University of Southampton.


Richard Gilbert
Week 3: 4pm, 31 January 2008, SoGE

Preparing Transport for Oil Depletion: Focus on China and the U.S.

Richard Gilbert, Consultant, Toronto, Canada.

World oil production is likely to peak during the next decade and begin a long, inexorable decline. As oil depletion progresses, electricity may be the only fuel that could sustain acceptable levels of land transport, chiefly renewably generated electricity delivered to vehicles while in motion. Oil products will be increasingly confined to fuelling marine transport and aviation, which will also undergo radical changes. A key issue is the extent to which oil depletion will be anticipated, or forced by high prices resulting from scarcity. This talk outlines how the U.S. and China-the most challenging cases among richer and poorer countries-could begin redesign of their transport systems for oil depletion. The scenario-building focuses on 2025, which will be an early point in a long era of declining oil production. It is far enough ahead to allow substantial changes in transport systems, and near enough to impel early action.

Richard Gilbert works mostly on transport and energy issues, and on urban governance. He has current and recent clients in Asia, Europe and North America, including the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (OECD). He is the lead author of Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil, published in December 2007 by Earthscan (London). More information about him is at www.richardgilbert.ca


Stephen Marshall
Week 5: 3pm, 14 February 2008, SoGE

Transport and Urban Form: Historical, Counterfactual and Evolutionary Perspectives

Stephen Marshall - Bartlett School of Planning, University College London.

The past is not just another country to be explored for its own sake, like a case study of an exotic location. A historical perspective can reveal relationships between variables interacting over time, and study of historical cases involving simple combinations of variables can help to reveal generic relationships that are obscured by the complexity - or familiarity - of today's circumstances. Furthermore, counterfactual perspectives can help us escape from fixed assumptions about the inevitability of past outcomes, and test scenarios that perhaps never occurred historically, but that could yet unlock understanding about underlying relationships between variables. Finally, an evolutionary perspective can help us understand how different entities and agencies co-evolve with each other (and their environment) over time.

This presentation explores the relationship between transport and urban form, combining historical, counterfactual and evolutionary perspectives, exploring issues such as:

  • pedestrian- (and animal-) friendly urban forms from historical cases before the superposition of effects of public transport and motorised transport;
  • counterfactual questions such as: why didn't the Romans have elevated urban motorways (when they had concrete, aqueducts, wheeled traffic and congested cities)
  • co-evolutionary relationships between transport modes and urban forms;
  • how the order that transport modes were introduced affected the course of development of cities.

The presentation concludes with reflections on policy implications - both in terms of transport policy and policies affecting the urban environment within which transport operates.

Stephen Marshall is Senior Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. He has 18 years' experience in urban and transport fields: 5 in consultancy and 13 in academia. Originally a graduate of Civil Engineering, he gained a Masters degree in Transport Planning and Engineering, a Postgraduate Diploma in Urban Design, and a PhD in Planning Studies. He has worked on several UK and EC research projects involving transport, planning and urban design, including the evolving relationships between transport and urban form. Dr Marshall has written several publications addressing these topics, including Land Use and Transport (with David Banister) and Streets and Patterns.


Gordon Stokes
Week 7: 3pm, 28 February 2008, SoGE

Rural Transport in a Wider Context

Gordon Stokes, Commission for Rural Communities (CRC).

Rural transport is a subject that has received mixed attention in the past. Most work has concentrated on accessibility by those without cars to essential services, while many transport researchers and practitioners all but ignore the issues. But there are many other issues such as rural residents' contribution to carbon emissions through transport, and the wider context by which rural disadvantage links to a lack of mobility and accessibility.

This talk will be in two main parts. One will discuss rural transport issues in terms of how they relate to urban and interurban transport issues, and to social exclusion. The other will put this in the wider context of how rural England differs from Urban England in respect to issues that impact on transport. It will draw on the author's research and work with the Countryside Agency on rural transport issues, and on recent Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) analysis for the State of the Countryside Report and other CRC work.

Gordon Stokes has worked in government research, university research, and consultancy in transport for 25 years, including 9 years in TSU in the 1980s and 1990s. He joined the Countryside Agency in 2002 as a transport policy advisor. He is now the editor of the State of the Countryside Report for the Commission for Rural Communities, which summarises quantitative data on all aspects of rural life.


Week 8: 3pm, 6 March 2008, Boardroom, SoGE

The Development of Transport Policy and the Appraisal Process

Bill Bradshaw, House of Lords.