Who's Who

Tom Walker on COVID-19 and transport


Tom Walker is Senior Vice President and Managing Director, APAC at Cubic Transportation Systems, in addition to being a newly-appointed Board member here at iMOVE.

He has extensive senior management experience leading major project and service delivery organisations in the transportation technology and services industry, so is very well placed to cast his eye over the effects of the pandemic on the transport sector.

What are the main effects or changes due to COVID-19 that you’re seeing right now in transport?

Cubic Transportation Systems delivers technology solutions and turnkey operating and maintenance services for our customers, who are large transport agencies. Transport projects and services have continued throughout the period of restriction, so we have adapted ourselves to work differently and still deliver on our commitments. The restrictions have in certain ways made it harder for our teams to deliver.

The difficulties primarily relate to specialised resources being unable to travel internationally and some supply chain disruption, but overall and across the board, our teams have successfully delivered. It has opened our eyes to what can be accomplished in a dramatically different working environment and the agility of our organisation.

What changes would you like to see in transport when the world rights itself post-pandemic?

Transport is already on a path to provide a more personalised customer experience for its users, but I would like to see that accelerate and leap forward. As a user, I would like to be able to choose and adapt my journey SPONTANEOUSLY using just one application that does it all. It would integrate payment, planning, real-time information, and booking.

It would also provide me with dynamic suggestions for modifying my trip based on changing conditions, circumstances, my personal preferences and best value. Transport is currently on a path to deliver a seamless or frictionless mobility experience for its customers. I would like to see it go one step further and deliver a spontaneous best-value experience.

And what changes do you think will happen in transport post-pandemic?

Hygiene and physical distancing will be important considerations for many users of transport post-pandemic. There will likely be two parallel changes that will occur to accommodate this. The first is to de-congest where possible on the transport network. That could mean running more services where possible on the existing infrastructure whilst investing in more infrastructure.

The second is to price access to transport to incentivise the spreading of demand so that it less peaky. The latter would be done more easily if the demand for transport is lessened through businesses adopting a more flexible working arrangement with their staff in terms of location and time.

Toll road businesses, once considered very safe investments. look much less safe and it is my understanding that there is concern from these businesses that their traffic levels will not return from the pre-COVID numbers for many years, even decades.

Like this interview? Click here to see the rest of our interviews about the effects of COVID-19 on the transport sector.

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