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WELL, this is the first post to my blog! Welcome to all readers.
I’ve decided to start this site as a place I can post articles, analyses and commentary on transport planning and my experiences.
Some posts will be topical and current, while others might go back in history and highlight some particular projects, studies and other activities I’ve been involved with. The sky’s the limit, really.
I’m hoping it’ll become a lasting record of my life and career experiences, as well as some personal memories. We’ll see how it evolves.
Here’s a short summary of my life and career milestones, for starters…
I was born in September 1954 in Malden, Surrey. I grew up in Orpington, Sundridge and then Sevenoaks, all in Kent. I went to school at Crofton Infants, Dulwich College and Sevenoaks School.
My father was the sales manager for a marine paints company in London, and my mother was a magazine journalist; she was fiction editor, then editor-in-chief, of the UK’s Woman’s Weekly magazine.
My career started when I finished school and started my bachelors degree course in civil engineering, at City University in London, in 1972. It was a ‘thin sandwich’ course, with 6 months working and 6 months studying every year. I worked with R Travers Morgan and Partners in London and my first 6-month office stint, as a school leaver, was in transport planning! I was allocated to the team of economists and planners who were doing a big study into the future of London Docklands. Subsequent work experiences included traffic surveys, site investigations and feasibility studies, mostly to do with road planning and construction.
After finishing university in 1977, I worked in the London office for a while, then had a brief but fascinating stint in Amman, Jordan, seconded to a local firm. After this I moved to North Wales to join the resident engineers’ team for the A55 North Wales Coast Road, a large and very complex project to upgrade the main road along the coast.
It was during this time that I decided to move to Australia. Travers Morgan already had offices here, specialising in transport planning and economics, so it was a natural step for me; several of my friends and colleagues from my uni years had already moved here.
I left the UK in 1985 and arrived in Perth, Western Australia. My first major study was into new route options for the Great Eastern Highway through the hills area of Perth, followed by a study into mass transit options for the Mitchell Freeway corridor in the northern suburbs, which ultimately led to construction of the Perth-Joondalup rail line.
In 1988 I moved to Melbourne to run the Travers Morgan office there. The recession hit soon after, unfortunately, and I had the tough job of laying off most of the team as we struggled to find work.
After those difficult few years, I moved to Sydney in 1991 to do a major study for the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority. The fascinating ‘Road Transport – Future Directions’ study took 18 months and gave me a great introduction to Sydney’s transport planning scene.
After a couple more busy years doing transport studies in NSW, I left Travers Morgan to spend time freelancing and also setting up and running a non-profit organisation involved in dolphin and whale research and conservation. I had many amazing adventures over the next 4 years, but I had to get back into full-time transport consulting again, to make ends meet.
Travers Morgan had closed down after a merger, and many of my ex-colleagues had joined Sinclair Knight Merz, a well-known Australian engineering consultancy. I started there in 1997, in the Sydney office.
In 2001 I moved back to Melbourne with SKM, to run another big study – the North Central City Corridor Study. This gave me a new start in Melbourne and led to many other interesting assignments, including the Metropolitan Tram Plan, East West Link Needs Assessment (Eddington Study), National Heavy Vehicle Charges assessments and a Victorian public transport DDA Strategy. I ran the transport planning team in the Melbourne office and was fortunate to attract many fantastic people who now play significant roles in transport planning in Victoria.
I was invited to move to SKM’s London office in 2008 to help build the UK transport planning business. Sadly things got off to a bad start – the GFC hit London a couple of months after I did, and winning work became very difficult. We were lucky to have a large project (the Vauxhall-Nine Elms-Battersea Transport Study) to keep the London team busy.
I returned to Melbourne in 2010 and continued with SKM, picking up more transport studies including the Rowville and Doncaster Rail studies, Melbourne Airport Landside Access Strategy and many others.
Merger moves were afoot at SKM, and in 2013 it became part of US-based Jacobs. As a shareholder I did OK financially from the deal, but along with many others I left the business soon afterwards.
Since 2014, I’ve been freelancing as a sole trader. I got a contract in the Victorian transport department, reviewing business cases and their transport modelling and economics, including Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel and the West Gate Tunnel, amongst others. After this, I spent a few months with the Grattan Institute, then continued as a sole trader. Several expert witness and review roles followed at EES hearings into major projects, including Melbourne Metro, West Gate Tunnel and North East Link.
In 2020 I joined Knowles Tivendale’s Movement & Place Consulting as a part-time Senior Associate. It’s been great to get back into a team again, although of course the COVID-19 situation has prevented us from getting together face-to-face much, so far.
This article first appeared on wmcdougall.com
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