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blog: Demystifying Transport Planning: Insights from a Graduate

Author: Jessica Burt

As I approach my first four months with ITP, it seems like a perfect time to reflect on my experiences so far. The time I have been here has been incredibly rewarding and has exceeded my expectations in every way.

I didn’t jump straight into a professional pathway after graduating from the University of Northampton with a degree in geography, I moved home and picked up a part-time job. Between my third year of university and getting my job at ITP, I was diagnosed with epilepsy which put a hold on my career progression.


No longer being able to drive as a result of my diagnosis, most graduate jobs wanting a driving license, and living in a village meant my degree-related job options were not looking promising. However, once I made the move to Nottingham and had better public transport options, I came across ITP’s SUNRISE scheme and was offered a six-month fixed contract, which has now led to permanent employment. As this role at ITP was my first professional job, this was a challenge in itself, and I came in not sure what to expect but, in such a short time, I have had the most fulfilling and productive experience, progressed leaps and bounds, and the job has been all I expected and more.

Now I am settled, I can’t wait for what the future holds. Fully immersed in the SUNRISE scheme, I will undertake three 8-month work placements, where I will be part of a sector team, gain hands-on project experience, applying technical skills to real-world projects, and shadowing senior members of the team to understand essential project management processes. The aim is to expose graduates to a number of disciplines within transport planning and to complete intensive training over the course of the scheme.

Before I started my career, I thought transport planning was as simple as figuring out the best ways move from one place to another, involving making decisions about roads, buses, trains, and other types of transportation to make sure everything runs smoothly and making transport more sustainable. However, since starting, I have discovered that there is a lot more to it.

So far, I have worked in the Influencing Behaviour sector where I have had the opportunity to engage with people and encourage uptake of public transport, particularly bus usage. There is a huge focus on individuals within transport planning; be that safety when travelling, access to jobs, goods and services, general health, and overall quality of life. I have also been able to combine my understanding of transport policy frameworks with my passion for inclusive mobility while working in the Policy and Strategy sector.

But there are other sectors which during the SUNRISE programme I am looking forward to experiencing. For example, Development Planning where the team “appreciates government growth aspirations and recognises the role private sector developers can play in helping to deliver sustainable places,’ or the Public Transport sector team where you have the opportunity to advise public and private sector clients, both in the UK and internationally, about how public transport can best meet local travel demands. So, no matter what your interests, transport planning has something to suit you. Now, with a deeper integration with Royal HaskoningDHV and therefore more practices, there are even more avenues for those on the SUNRISE scheme to explore.

Ag day

I remember in my second week at ITP I experienced a huge challenge as we had an ITP and M&I UK team meeting / social get together which was extremely daunting as I didn’t really know everyone in my own office at this stage, never mind everyone else. However, it gave me the opportunity to put myself out there and get to know those who I will be working with over the next few years in both a work and a social setting.

In my first four months, I have been in the Influencing Behaviour team, working on various projects, and meeting a wonderful bunch of people. During my time in this team, I have taken a level of responsibility in certain projects, particularly within the Derbyshire Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) project. My role as a Bus Champion has given me the opportunity to fully immerse myself into the project and experience various different aspects of the sector. On my second day, I was already participating in external meetings with businesses across Derbyshire to promote the BSIP.

As part of this project, underneath the Travel Derbyshire brand, I have had the opportunity to branch out and take part in presentations, including speaking roles. As a result, I have started to take part in discussions more and I have now been given the opportunity to chair meetings myself.

Having completed one year of a marketing management degree, and using my consumer behaviour experience, I have been able to involve myself in the engagement side of the Derbyshire BSIP project. My role has been to directly engage with businesses, schools and communities to raise their awareness of the local bus service improvements as well as to incentivise people to try the bus with promotional tickets. I have attended a number of events as part of the project to promote bus usage across the county.


Alongside the Influencing Behaviour team, I have also been working with our Policy and Strategy team which has allowed me to gain experience not only in a different sector but also in a completely different style of project.

My dissertation focused on experiences and spatial interactions of adults with ASD in urban spaces, and, having recently been diagnosed with a hidden disability myself, being given the opportunity to work on behalf of Leicestershire County Council to respond to Blue Badge appeals has been amazing.

I have always had a great interest in understanding the way people interact with their surroundings, seeing what factors impact their decisions, and more recently how these experiences impact their travel choices. Assessing the mobility of those with physical and hidden disabilities has enabled me to explore this interest in greater depth and use one of my passions in my career to help those who need it. The Policy and Strategy sector is an excellent opportunity for me to express these passions and allows me to learn and understand these factors from a different perspective, while also remaining engaged with the public.

Being at ITP has made it possible to put all my interests into working on real-world projects and putting what I have learnt at university into practice. Knowing that SUNRISE offers so many opportunities for professional development, I am looking forward to seeing what I can do in the future. I have realised that transport planning is much more than what meets the eye. There are so many different opportunities, and I cannot wait to take on whatever challenge I face next. I would recommend transport planning to anyone out there who is considering it as a career, as there truly is something for everyone.

We're always looking for bright and ambitious people to join our team. If you like the sound of being part of the ITP team, please check out our current vacancies, or get in touch with Jim Bradley for an informal discussion.


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