I’m a Traffic Engineering and Analytics enthusiast at the age of 25. I know that’s not a statement you hear every day but it’s true. Working to meet the needs of transport infrastructure in the future is an important job and something I am very proud to be part of.

Whilst I appreciate it’s not an obvious career choice, it makes perfect sense to me and I remember the exact moment when it just ‘clicked’. We were required to study a Transport Engineering subject at University for civil engineering and I immediately loved transport because of its relevance. It was so simple for me to understand. After all, we are all someone who rides a motorbike, a bicycle, uses public transport, drives, walks or catches a ferry. Transport Engineering was entirely pertinent to my everyday life.

My team at SMEC encourages me to achieve more, learn more and do more daily; and recently, I took the opportunity to travel to Germany as the representative of SMEC’s Transport Analytics team in Brisbane to work on the most complex stage of the team’s most cutting edge project. I spent two weeks in the head office of PTV Group (a software development company) to help deliver a Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) project.

SMEC was engaged by TMR to investigate the impact of Autonomous Vehicles (AV), Mobility as a Service (MaaS)* and Demand-Responsive Transport in the Northern regional centres of Townsville and Cairns in future years. Working closely with the software developers in Germany, I used an innovative add-on to PTV Visum, which modelled the future transport network usage by AVs and DRT. This modelling predicted, with accuracy, how MaaS and AV vehicles can, and will, interact and perform on the transport network. This is very exciting as MaaS and AVs are a hot topic in the traffic world and will change how we get from A to B.

I am proud to say I have become the first person in Australia to gain specific experience in MaaS Modelling with PTV, completing two weeks’ intensive project work. Based in Karlsruhe, I worked closely with PTV in the MaaS project development and services team who has in-depth knowledge in MaaS modelling software.

The question remains, can we really predict the future of transport? Will AVs and MaaS add to, or alleviate congestion?

Our studies provided some very interesting results, with our research and analysis clearly showing that when you enable vehicle trips as AVs or MaaS, congestion was reduced when compared to a high-demand scenario. High adoption AV rates will allow for a significant improvement in congestion, with people being able to travel faster and have less time waiting to get to their desired location. The results improved further with MaaS when we start to share our trip, revealing that many more people can get to where they want to go whilst further reducing the congestion in most instances.

Transport engineering has allowed me to pursue my passion, travel to Germany with SMEC and meet some amazing people. This trip to Europe (my first) allowed me to experience many new things. Seeing the renaissance castle in Heidelberg, Germany, was a special moment. Coming from Australia, I haven’t seen such historical buildings before. I have also seen firsthand a different working culture and most importantly, I learnt a new innovative feature for a program that will help predict the travel options for future generations. What’s not to love about that?

*For those of you not familiar with MaaS, it is basically vehicle sharing and picking up / dropping off people en route to your destination and could be the means of replacing public transport as we know it.  It means people can get to their destinations quicker and more efficiently. Alternatively, you can check out Derrick Hitchins’ blog about AV here or MaaS here.

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Author Sheridan Tanzer

Sheridan is a traffic engineer and transport modeller as part of the Transport Analytics team in Brisbane at SMEC. Since joining SMEC she has been exposed to many opportunities which have included travelling nationally / internationally for work. Sheridan enjoys being involved in the social aspects of the office and participating in active activities such as Bridge to Brisbane, Corporate Games, social walks and cycling.

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