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Get Connected – Futures in Public Transport

Approximately two months ago we – being MRCagney and T2 - organised this careers evening at the University of Auckland.

The success of the evening exceeded our expectations, at least in terms of the number of students who turned up. In fact we just about managed to fill one of the University’s larger auditoriums with a range of bright and sparkly faces who were evidently prepared to stay after lectures and listen to members of the “rusty and crusty” brigade.

Perhaps many of them came just for the free pizza and I think that’s OK: Even I will admit that there are a few things more important than public transport; food for malnourished students being one.

Those who did attend were treated to the following speaking line-up:

  1. Joshua Arbury – Principal Transport Planner at Auckland Council, perhaps better known as the grand-daddy of the Auckland Transport Blog (cue cries of gleeful e-appreciation).
  2. Pippa Mitchell – Consultant with T2, perhaps better known as “the bus whisperer” (i.e. Pippa has been talking with those ghost buses for over a decade).
  3. Anthony Cross – Public Transport Network Planning Manager at Auckland Transport, who is one of the key people behind Auckland’s New Network.
  4. Jarrett Walker – Associate Consultant with MRCagney, author of the Human Transit book and blog, and general PT extraordinaire.

Finally, after much ado, I have managed to compress/upload the resulting videos to YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

After the evening we received the following feedback, which was certainly appreciated and worth repeating in full for any budding social scientists out there:

I was in the audience as an anthropologist guest, and I thought the event was superb–that it could not have been done better: a wonderful balance of speakers organized well by the coordinator, who each brought a specific aspect of work and concepts in transport to life, and then that the questions from the audience grappled with real issues so that the students there interested in careers had a glimpse of what they might come to grips with if they go into transport. It seems to me that there is a golden moment right now in transport planning for the city–the miracle of people exhilarating and exhilarated with passion and intelligence, working together across agencies, free from the all too frequent plodding literal-mindedness that comes with designing diplomas and certification in a field– that there is something remarkable with this present combination of people with backgrounds from the broad perspectives of geography and literature from which they draw resources to think imaginatively, both remembering to keep returning to the high altitude of the bigger long-term picture as they also deal with the practicalities of day to day bus stops. It must have given inspiration for students in the Arts and Social Sciences who have only too many doomsayers declaring that students cannot afford to get a general education because it is useless for employment: this event showed the strengths of Humanities and Social Sciences for innovative thinking.

Before I wrap this up I would like to thank the following people for making the night possible:

  • All of our speakers;
  • Patrick Reynolds for gently guiding the evening’s discussion into all sorts of sordid directions;
  • Marc Tadaki and Reza Fuard from CubeBrick Studios for assisting with filming and editing respectively; and
  • Career Help and Development Services at the UoA for assisting with the venue.

And thanks of course to all the people who attended – your interest helped to inspire the rusty and crusty brigade that came along with the intention of inspiring you!

P.s. I hope you enjoy the videos, and let us know if you have any ideas for how we might improve future evenings.  I hope this can blossom into an annual event that supports the development of a new public transport industry in NZ.

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