Hosted by Leon Daniels O.B.E, Lunch with Leon features interviews with leading figures in the transport industry.
Lunch with Leon episode 39 - Nigel Harris
The long-awaited Williams-Shapps rail review has been published by the Transport Secretary. While its headlines are a new public body – Great British Railways – providing single national leadership, better integration, simpler fares and smarter ticketing, there’s much detail. To get to grips with the detail, Leon Daniels OBE talks through the plan with leading rail commentator Nigel Harris, editor of RAIL magazine.
Lunch with Leon episode 38 - Philip Gerhardt
A prolific writer of articles and visible on social media, Philip Gerhardt is this week’s dining companion on ‘Lunch with Leon’.
Currently General Manager - Route Performance at Arriva London, Philip is ‘destined for great things’ says Leon Daniels, who charts Philip’s rise through the industry since joining as a trainee 12 years ago.
In a conversation that the “younger generation would do well to hear,” reckons Leon, they chat about the transformation of the transport industry and new technologies – a real passion for Philip.
He explains why the newly-announced National Bus Strategy “opens so many doors” as he talks with passion about transport and its future.
“We have a responsibility to take people in the industry on the journey with us” says Philip as he explains how data “can really change how we look at the world” and deliver even better performance.
Whether demand-responsive travel (DRT) will ever become mainstream is mulled over, while Philip reveals how he spent his spare time in lockdown trying to break travel apps.
“We’re on the cusp of greatness in transport,” he adds as the conversation moves onto the possibilities of dynamic scheduling using real-time data. Will this, they ponder, lead to the possibility of live automated bus rescheduling on hi-frequency services?
Before wrapping up, they offer advice for young people who are thinking of joining the transport industry. What would Philip say to someone who is weighing up, for example, whether to go into retail, computer games, banking or something else?
Describing his experiences, Philip concludes by talking about how to make transport attractive to young people as a career choice.
Lunch with Leon episode 37 - Prof. John Miles
“Make it as clean and simple as possible.” That’s the guiding principles that Prof John Miles Director of Research in Transitional Energy Strategies at the University of Cambridge, reckons we should focus on for transport.
He’s no ‘boffin’ either, but also gets his hands dirty in the real world working with global consultants, Arup, and has first-hand knowledge of many types of transport schemes.
He tells Leon Daniels what’s wrong with Milton Keynes, and talks about the opportunity-charging bus project in the city.
Swiftly scything through all the jargon, he cuts to the chase to set out the pros and cons of all the different energy types used to power vehicles; which ones have the edge and why.
In an informed and objective analysis, he looks at what is possible. Throwing down a challenge to elected mayors looking to solve congestion, he sets out why it’s not an impossible solution.
Lunch with Leon episode 36 - Andrew Braddock
The Great Persuader“It’s about kicking down doors and taking people to see things,” says Andrew Braddock, about how to change the views and perceptions of those in charge, over lunch with Leon Daniels OBE.Andrew – a public transport pioneer, who had a long and distinguished career with the National Bus Company and then Transport for London - chats with Leon about what we could do to change transport for the better.He knows all about making change happen as when working in London he was the first pathfinder into the world of accessible buses, something that’s now universal and taken for granted. Under his watch, the UK’s first buses accessible for people with disabilities were introduced and he knows how hard it can be to change established views.They talk about the possible ways out of the current pandemic for public transport, and Andrew argues why the general media’s predictions of the amount of working-from-home (WFH) in the future are exaggerated.Andrew and Leon mull over how to replace the tax revenue from fuel duty, as the UK moves to an electric car future – and that opens up a bigger conversation about the ‘honesty’ that voters need to have about tax.And, in a wide-ranging conversation they also cover topics as diverse as asparagus, cherries and trolleybuses…
Lunch with Leon episode 35 - Anna Whitty MBE
Anna Whitty MBE is the Chief Executive of Ealing Community Transport (ECT), which provides safe, accessible and affordable community transport to people unable to use mainstream transport due to mobility or other difficulties, or because ordinary public transport is unavailable in their area.
Formed in 1979, it now offers its services across not just its West London namesake borough, but also in Cheshire, and Dorset.
Anna tells Leon how community transport serves people who ‘fall between the gaps’ of mainstream provision and are the ‘hidden heroes’.
The independent charity provides a door-to-door service for those who can’t use public transport. Anna explains why door-to-door – rather than ‘kerb-to-kerb’ – is so important.
They chat about ECT’s role in providing accessible transport during the 2012 London Olympics, and how it demonstrated to the world what a good accessible transport network looks like.
They move on to chat about how improvements in customer service and operations have been made, including MiDAS (Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme) and the high standards ECT sets with regards to recruitment and training of drivers.
Anna closes by explaining how her staff pulled together to help community in need during the first Covid lockdown.
Lunch with Leon episode 34 - Rav Babbra and Chess Stetson
Doing amazing things for autonomous vehicles…
In a trans-Atlantic lunch – with one guest in California and the other in the UK – Leon Daniels meets with dRISK.
Chatting with CEO Chess Stetson in California and Business Development/Programme Manager Rav Babbra in the UK, they talk about their work with the government-owned Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV).
We hear how they have been tasked by the UK government, through the C-CAVS to build the ‘ultimate driving test’ – not for human drivers, but to test self-driving cars.
Their test will determine that autonomous vehicles (AVs) are not simply ‘as safe’ as those driven by humans, but much safer than human drivers.
We learn that the test is being used with current AV technologies, to establish how we can get to a ‘vision zero’ (for accidents) in the UK.
Leon asks why it is acceptable that 1,500 people a year in the UK are killed by human drivers, yet critics say that AVs must have zero accidents?
He discusses why people are not as outranged by existing UK road deaths as they should be, given that 1,500 deaths a year wouldn’t be acceptable in industry or commerce, for example.
Chess opines that the UK’s ‘zero vision’ towards accidents is a “World-leading vision and a much more holistic approach to safety than many other places.”
He explains how the driving test for AVs will be used by the DVLA/DVSA when an AV is to be certified for use in the UK.
Like the UK driving test for humans, the AV version will present a range of scenarios to test the AV.
We learn how, using Transport for London (TfL)’s 1,000 traffic CCTV cameras, dRISK has been capturing ‘edge cases’ - high-risk incidents - and re-creating them in the simulation environment to see what the AV will do.
And, he poses the oft-asked questions: Will an AV stop for a child running out from behind an ice-cream van, or will it kill it? Other questions discussed include telling the difference between a real human and a dummy.
Chess explains why an AV will be able to recognise that a child dressed in a costume as a green traffic light, is recognised as a child crossing the road, not a green traffic light, even though it’s a situation the AV has never come across before.
“AVs predict what’s going to happen, not what has happened – and they can do that now already – for example, how to deal with the guy in the chicken suit at a level crossing,” he says.
The wide-ranging conversation turns to the ‘naked highways’ - ones without physical traffic signs and traffic lights – as the AV ‘talks’ with the infrastructure and receives instructions.
The thorny subject of cyclists and their interaction with AVs is mulled over. Says Chess “Cyclists and human drivers never get on; AVs will be able to negotiate their way around them.”
Then they look at how automation will develop. Will it be a progressive change, or an overnight switch from manually-driven cars to AVs? This leads onto to the increasing automation of existing new vehicles, with systems such as lane keeping and emergency braking already mandatory.
The move to full automation in commercial vehciles is examined, and the reasons for hub-to-hub trunking with trucks being the most likely first-adopters.
The wider applications for automation are explored, with its use to de-risk the entire transport network.
We discover that already dRISK’s software is used to re-route human driven vehicles to reduce risk. What would be the positive effect on fleet managers if by rerouting, they could reduce their accident claims by 10% in a year? How artificial intelligence (AI) uses data to plan routes that are safest at certain times of day, is explained.
Rav discusses how the integration of AI into transport is no pipe dream, and talks about how dRISK re-purposed its ‘object detection