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How time flies

blog: How time flies!

Author: Phoebe Garside

This year, it's been 25 years since Debbie and Colin started ITP and 10 years since Tim and Rachel started working here! To celebrate we caught up with them to reflect on their time here.

What was going on in the world when you started at ITP?

Colin: Brimful of Asha by Cornershop was number 1 in the charts and John Prescott had just launched his Integrated Transport White Paper, one of which seems to have had a longer shelf life! At that time it felt like all pieces were dropping into place to enable transport and land use to work together with a rightful prominence of investment in improving public transport.

Debbie: I got married in September 1997 and the evening before our, very low key, wedding in the Cotswolds had bumped into an old colleague (Alex Robinson) who told me that he was looking for an accountant. He subsequently introduced me to someone called Colin Brader who needed a hand with the accountancy/admin for a new transport planning consultancy….

Rachel: There was not much in the news. However, Ride London took place for the first time with over 50,000 cyclists taking to London’s streets, led by a certain ex prime Minister.

Tim: It was a whole other world 10 years ago: coalition government, rock-bottom interest rates, horse meat in burgers…happy times. But I was too focused on balancing a new job with having a new child to notice.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?

Rachel: Sometimes it can be intimidating to work with people who have more experience, but it is best to lean into the experience which will help you grow personally and professionally. You should also never be afraid to ask questions, as there is a good chance someone else is wondering exactly the same thing!

Debbie: Numbers are important but people are even more so…

Tim: Why limit it to just one? ITP’s Golden Rules still hold up as relevant and important reminders

Colin: Technically I am sure we can solve pretty much any problem but what will prevent us is institutional complexity and political disagreements. Great things are achieved by strong political champions, so where are they?

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the transport planning industry over the course of your career?

Tim: Working in the public transport sector, the continued reduction in value, funding, support and resource for local bus in this country. Things are changing with the National Bus Strategy and associated funding – but that brings its own challenges!

Colin: The destruction of the UK bus network through seeing it as a commercial venture rather than the lubricator of opportunity and the creator of equitable mobility.

Rachel: The change in attitudes, travel needs and behaviours following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Debbie: Lots more staff to look after!

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What's a stand-out project from your time here?

Rachel: This has to go to the first project I worked on, which was Derby City Council’s ‘Connected’ programme. ITP delivered the business Travel Advice Service which advised and supported local employers and employees to make more trips by walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport.

Tim: It’s really exciting to be part of the team supporting Cornwall to deliver their Bus Fares Pilot – interoperability across a county, fares slashed and breaking down barriers to using public transport in one of the country’s most rural areas.


Colin: Being involved in Lagos BRT from conception through to operation and carrying 200,000 people per day. The focus, determination and pragmatism of decision makers in Lagos was amazing.

Debbie: Setting up a bank account in Nigeria to support Colin’s Lagos project. The head of Lloyds bank’s International Department in London rang me when we finally achieved this. The whole process was incredibly time consuming and most customers gave up along the way but we battled on!

What is your proudest moment from your time at ITP?

Debbie: Seeing our staff go from strength to strength, winning many awards along the way, while still being a really nice group of people to work alongside.

Colin: Welcoming, with Princess Anne, everyone to ITP’s 20th Birthday celebration with some of transport plannings brightest minds, staff and clients who had become friends.

Rachel: In June 2017 ITP received both the Sustainable Transport Award and a new 'CIHT Award' for the Connected Business Travel Advice Service project, which we delivered in partnership with Derby City Council.

Tim: There are lots of projects that I’ve been proud of, and have made a real difference– but I’ve been most proud to work with, support and encourage some amazing people.

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What are you most looking forward to in the next few years?

Colin: A belief in public transport returning to Government policy as a way in which we tackle carbon reduction and the improvement of air quality in our cities, and maybe a politician who is happy to stand up and say so!

Rachel: To see how social prescribing can become embedded into society, to encourage and support people to become more active by walking and cycling.

Tim: A little more stability in the bus industry, even if it’s just for the short term…

Debbie: Watching our team continue to develop and achieve great things as part of our new bigger family.



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