In the previous issue – our 800th – we looked back at the amazing journey LTT has been on since we began in 1989. Now we want to look ahead
In this article I hope to explain where we are on our new phase of development, and to set out some exciting new further new steps which the LTT project will be introducing in the coming weeks. As I made clear in the review of the story so far last time, here at LTT we’ve certainly been up for change over the years, and we’re changing further now.
A raft of new elements have already been added to the LTT mix beyond the original fortnightly print product; most radically and recently with the introduction of our fortnightly online discussions to complement the magazine itself, along with e-newsletters to bring you up to date with developments in specialist areas like transport’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also introduced our annual Local Transport Summit five years ago to provide an opportunity for decision-makers in the sector to take stock each year of changes that are happening, and new challenges on the horizon.
As I said in issue 800, the LTT project – it’s no longer just a magazine – obviously wouldn’t exist without the warmth towards it out there in the local transport community, and the identification of several thousand people with us on our original and continuing mission to provide a specialist focus on such a vital area.
So what’s changing? And what will it mean in terms of the LTT products and services?
You’ll have seen from the dramatic cover on this magazine and the list of connected services that are now available on the inside of the cover that we are re-pitching our identity to reflect our much broader offer. It all supports the professional needs of the local transport community, but in a variety of innovative and mutually supportive ways.
So what do we consider ‘local transport’ to be today as a subject anyway? By which I mean the field of activity that we have been covering for these 31 years, and that has evolved enormously from once quite simple and straightforward tasks such as maintaining and developing the highway network, managing car traffic and parking, and planning, supporting and delivering bus and rail services. It’s progressively developed into a complex web of activities including street management; tackling congestion and the environmental effects of traffic; seeking to change people’s travel behaviour; deploying smart technologies to co-ordinate the various elements of the transport network; and harnessing the digital revolution to inform travellers of their best choices, and let them know how the network is operating minute-by-minute. Plus new regimes to regulate both familiar, and new kinds of mobility like shared taxis, e-bikes and scooters, and much more.
A similar evolution can easily be identified in answer to the parallel question about ourselves – what is ‘Local Transport Today’? By which I mean the business activity we undertake of information provision and knowledge sharing for our professional audience, and the obvious need to acknowledge that it’s no longer embodied in just a fortnightly printed magazine. Or even an online digital version of that. But actually now a cluster of activities relating to the dissemination and discussion of information of all kinds relating to local transport, and to addressing the professional needs of those who work in the sector in a range of ways.
You’ll see on this page an illustrative Venn diagram, indicating the complex matrix of inter-related transport activity which the LTT mission now embraces.
We could have done another one to illustrate the various elements in the information and networking hub that now make up the LTT overall offer. More than ten at the last count!
We do, of course, recognise that ‘the magazine’ is still the flagship in the LTT cluster, but is simply not physically capable of accommodating all the quality material we can now produce, collect and compile. That is why we are continually building a bigger digital resource with new elements including e-newsletters, our unrivalled Transport Xtra portal and its vast amount of micro-themed content available to all LTT subscribers, along with the presentations at, and outcomes of, our conferences and online discussions; the Local Transport Summit deliberations; and other specialist reports and studies to which we have access.
In the new world of digital information and connectivity, we’re particularly alert to the need to provide convenient and flexible access to all the knowledge that LTT garners in new ways. During the lockdown, we have been pleased to offer free access digitally to the LTT magazine product as we recognised that many of our readers would not be visiting their normal workplaces and seeing the print copies mailed there. Though this free access will shortly be ending, I’m pleased to announce the arrival of a new app to bring the magazine content to readers digitally and conveniently, and plans to build upon it with new elements delivered to your device in a new way.
This will be offered as a complementary service to all subscribers to LTT, and form another plank in our extended ‘LTT’ offer (see panel far left).
One of our acknowledged strengths is working with the leading experts across the local transport sector. So, as well as our coverage of actuality and decision-making and operational matters in the local transport field, one of the roles that LTT has increasingly embraced over the years has been to identify and present some exceptional ‘expert resource’ elements embodied in our specialist columnists and contributors. Our current group of regulars includes Phil Goodwin, John Dales and Richard Dilks, and a wide range of ‘viewpoint’ authors. Several more have been and are being signed up to cover a number of new topic territories including on economics and data analysis; environmental impacts and project development and appraisal. We’re also delighted to announce that the ‘longform’ reading material they – and other contributors – produce will shortly be presented beyond the magazine itself in a specially commissioned attractive online feature article platform, providing the ability for those in our professional network to comment upon, add to and join further debate on what a contributor has written (see second panel).
Alongside all the information flows I’ve described here, we’ve built a significant network of specialist events and seminars to provide an extension to the fortnightly LTT material that you can read in the magazine and online. These have recently been joined by our highly popular ‘LTT online discussion’ every fortnight on the Friday afternoon between issues of the magazine, and a range of webinars we now offer to focus on specific themes and areas of professional transport practice.
From this quick run-through, I hope you’ll recognise just how wide-ranging the LTT proposition now is, and the great value that it can provide to those working in or following the local transport sector and its challenges and future development.
In the past few weeks, we’ve been delighted to see a significant rise in new subscriptions, which has given us confidence that we must be doing the right thing! Indeed, it’s interesting to reflect on how the recent pandemic experience seems to have focused heavily on the ‘return of the expert/follow the science’ messages, and we hope that this will be an enduring maxim in the world of local transport too! We believe in the power of quality information and discussion, and want to express here our commitment to embracing and exploring both existing and emerging specialist areas of discussion in the world of local transport. That means going beyond the simple and obvious news and comment often covered in the general media, and digging down into new niche themes and professional territories, with the help of insight and analysis led by the best industry experts.
We see ourselves as curators of knowledge and facilitators of discussion, and acting as the catalyst in building new areas of understanding and expertise. Our output is still defined by a magazine and its unique pedigree, but our activity now embraces so much more. We’re excited by the opportunities to go further with what we do, and remain dedicated to being at the side of the local transport community as it addresses both its daily responsibilities, and the new challenges always arriving.
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