Dublin Office: Insight
4 June 2019

Dublin Office: Insight

Part 3: Wen and David, from the SYSTRA team in Dublin provide an insight into their working day and thoughts on the current transport sector.

Wen Zhang, Assistant Consultant

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SYSTRA IN IRELAND?
I moved from Sweden to Ireland in 2016. Before joining SYSTRA, I was a research engineer in university.
It’s exciting to join SYSTRA’s traffic modelling team in Ireland and participate in some national level transport projects.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I’m currently calibrating a Vissim model. My main responsibilities are data analysis and traffic model development/calibration.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME OF THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FACING THE SECTOR YOU WORK IN?
A lot of new public transport projects going on in Ireland now, such as BusConnects, Metrolink, etc. It’s both challenges and opportunities for us.

WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?
Movie, Food and Wine

David Conlon, Associate

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SYSTRA IN IRELAND?
After completing a Masters in Regional and Urban Planning I was interested in starting a career in Transport Planning. SYSTRA (Formerly MVA) had been involved in some interesting projects in Ireland and so I applied for a graduate position and was successful.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
One of the larger projects I am involved with at the moment is the N6 Galway City Ring Road (GCRR). This national road project is comprised of 12km of dual carriageway, 6 km of single carriageway and will link the existing N6 at Coolagh (northeast of the city) with the village of Bearna (southwest of the city). The Ring Road will include a new bridge crossing of the River Corrib, two short tunnel sections as well as grade separated junctions serving the N83, N84 and N59. As the Appraisal Lead for the project I was involved in the production of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Cost Benefit Analysis of the scheme. In advance of the Oral Hearing for the project, which is likely to take place later this year, we are carrying out several sensitivity tests to examine the impacts of this scheme in the context of emerging policy changes, namely the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME OF THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FACING THE SECTOR YOU WORK IN?
The importance of sustainability, and reducing the level of emissions associated with road transportation, is something which is increasingly recognised and reflected in national/ international policy. The road network, and specifically the construction of new roads, is one of the main contributors to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Both directly through the fossil energy used in mining, transportation and paving works… and indirectly through emissions from vehicles using the roads and the additional traffic (induced traffic) facilitated by the delivery of new roads. The key challenge in this sector is to provide enough road capacity to allow economies to grow, facilitate strategic transport needs and provide a road network that facilitates model shift while at the same time protecting the natural environment and promoting best practice in the integration of land use and transport planning.

WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?
Bar supporting my local brewery and football team in Oriel Park, I try to keep active by going to the gym and chasing my two year old around. I also enjoy a bit of football and boxing, mostly as a spectator these days unfortunately.

Jade Connor, Assistant Consultant

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SYSTRA IN IRELAND?
As a recent graduate in Geography, I grew increasingly interested in the pressing need for the progression towards sustainable transport in Ireland, particularly due to the environmental, economic and health benefits of sustainable transport.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW
I am currently working alongside the Bus Contracts team in the National Transport Authority and I tend to be involved with analysing and reporting on performance KPIs for bus operators as well as assisting with Junior Bus Contracts.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME OF THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FACING THE SECTOR YOU WORK IN?
Irish transport faces several challenges, especially when sustainability is looked at through the environmental lens. As Ireland is not expected to meet the energy and emissions targets for 2020, it is becoming increasingly important that the transport sector does its part to work hard towards meeting the 2030 targets put in place by the EU. It is the responsibility of Ireland and the transport sector to adopt a more effective approach to overcome this lag and progress to meet the new 2030 targets.

WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING
On the weekends, I enjoy getting outdoors and travelling to the countryside for hikes or sea swims. Recently I have embarked on a reading challenge for 2019 which is proving to be very addictive.

ARANTXA MARTINEZ-PERAL, PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SYSTRA IN IRELAND?
I got a job offer from SYSTRA Ireland back in September 2014. My background is in engineering, moving from infrastructure design to transport planning was a challenge which four years later I am happy I took it.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I am currently working on series of Masterplans / Local Area Plans and Public Realm projects where SYSTRA was appointed as part of a multi-disciplinary team to undertake the Traffic and Movement related tasks. Also, I am involved on the Framework Governance Task (NTA Modelling Services Framework) providing assistant PM support with administrative/financial activities.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME OF THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FACING THE SECTOR YOU WORK IN?
One of the main challenges is to change the traditional car dominating streets to sustainable transport orientated streets. Especially developing more pedestrian friendly environments as pedestrianised streets, upgrading junctions, reducing traffic lanes, removing car parking, etc.

WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?
I enjoy spending time with my family, like going to the beautiful parks and beaches that Dublin North offers. Running and Zumba are the only sports I do when I have a bit of time. Meeting friends for dinner/drinks is always a pleasure.

PART 1

Alison Pickett, Associate Director

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SYSTRA IN IRELAND?
I grew up in Dublin but moved to the UK in my 20s, working in sustainable travel and behaviour change at Transport for West Midlands for over 15 years. The opportunity to move home in 2017 and support the Systra Dublin office with the delivery of sustainable travel projects across Ireland was too good to miss!

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Currently, I’m finalising a Local Access Study for the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, which involved extensive stakeholder engagement to identify and prioritise ways to make it easier for local residents to travel to the shopping centre on foot, by bike, by bus or by car-sharing. I’m also project managing the development of a Freight Mobility Management Plan to support the Port of Cork with their major expansion at their Ringaskiddy site and the relocation of their Tivoli Dock operations to Ringaksiddy.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME OF THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FACING THE SECTOR YOU WORK IN?
I’m very interested in the potential of Mobility as a Service to provide seamless, attractive and affordable sustainable travel options for people, to improve access to employment, education and leisure opportunities while cutting carbon and enabling healthier lifestyles. One of the challenges with the development of new technologies such as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and new ‘disruptive’ market entrants, is to ensure that strategic transport planning makes the most of the opportunities to improve transport access for all – rather than inadvertently leading to increased congestion and a reduction in public transport, cycling and walking.

WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?
I enjoy spending time with my son, ‘borrowing’ my dad’s dog for beach walks, cooking and listening to music.

Samuel Goncalves, Assistant Consultant

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SYSTRA IN IRELAND?
I have a degree in Urban Planning and Environmental Engineering which brought me to work for 2 years in urban and architectural design offices in Paris. I had the opportunity to join Systra in Ireland which operates in a slightly different field of work: Transportation and Mobility. Half of my work time here is dedicated to Transport Modelling and the other half to Transport Planning.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
At the moment, I am working on the multi-modal Transport Model for Ireland. The last few days, I have been trying to make the model as accurate as possible by comparing its outputs itineraries and times with “reality” journeys. In the end, we will be able to know the costs for getting from one location to another by car, public transportation, walking or cycling.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME OF THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FACING THE SECTOR YOU WORK IN?
It is definitely an exciting time to be a Transport Planner and Modeler! Climate change, population growth or urban resilience are, among many others, the topics of importance over the next decade. In this context, finding a balance between sustainable mobility, urban development and quality of life is one of the biggest challenges we are facing now.

WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?
I never say no to an old movie! I like also baking cakes and juggling with eggs.

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