PTV Insights: Exciting research topics in the transport sector

PTV researcher Eileen worked in the Colombian metropolis of Medellín for two years.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 20 seconds.

What will the smart stop look like with tomorrow’s networked mobility? Is transport with E-trucks a possibility for logistics? How will autonomous and conventional vehicles interact on our roads in the future? The research team of the PTV Group focuses on these topics. Eileen  has been assisting the PTV researchers in Berlin for the past few months. She’s enthusiastic about this diversity.

Compass: Eileen, what do you find fascinating about the research topics at PTV?

Eileen: The diversity. The spectrum of topics is so broad and exciting – this is very important for me in a job. So I’ve learned a lot of new things in recent months and been able to apply a lot of my previous experience.  Furthermore, the work environment here at the company is very good and we on the team understand each other brilliantly.

Compass: Before you came to PTV, you spent two years in Colombia.

Eileen: Exactly, in Medellín, the country’s second-largest city, with more than two million inhabitants. I worked there for an NGO in the area of sustainable mobility.

Compass: But you actually studied something else, didn’t you?

Eileen: At the start of my studies, I didn’t have anything at all to do with mobility. My bachelor’s degree is in political science and then I studied non-profit management. The first touch points came during my master’s studies, and thus it happened that in my master’s thesis, I examined the question of whether introducing electric taxis in Medellín could help fight traffic problems. Then one thing followed another. First I did an internship at the NGO in Colombia and then I worked there for two years.

Compass: Which mobility topics did you focus on in South America?

Eileen: At the beginning, my focus was primarily on bicycle use, however then the range of topics expanded, generally to sustainable transport, the expansion of public transport, car sharing, etc. Medellín suffers from heavy air pollution. However, because cars are still a very great status symbol, the conditions for sustainable mobility are very difficult. This is a problem that most countries in South America are facing – and, in fact, most countries around the world.

Compass: And did anything change during the time you were in Colombia?

Eileen: Yes, definitely. For example, we organised a very successful bicycle forum. It set a lot of things in motion. Suddenly, politicians were interested in encouraging bicycles and advocating more for bicycle infrastructure. Latin American countries like to be inspired by Europe when it comes to bicycle topics, especially by Denmark and the Netherlands.  However, I also believe we can learn a lot from other countries. For example, when it comes to incorporating citizens or not underestimating the strength of NGOs; they are always close to the problems. I learned this in the course of my work in Colombia.

Compass: And now you’re applying this experience as part of the research team at PTV. What are your tasks?

Eileen: I’m working on a variety of national and international research projects. I research, write, and design a lot. We are working on such a variety of projects relating to mobility – this makes everyday work unbelievably diverse. For example, in one project we are focusing on new, future-oriented mobility concepts. In another, the focus is on the topic of parking bicycles at train stations. In Germany, such capacities are too low and not truly secure. However, many cities are striving toward shifting transport more to bicycles and public transport. In this case, theft-proof, protected parking possibilities are very important.

Compass: You always have your finger on the pulse of the times in research …

Eileen: That’s what I especially like. We are always very close to the hot topics that are moving mobility. Furthermore, there is an intensive exchange of knowledge since networking with other companies and organisations is very tight. That’s not just a plus point for me personally, but of course also for the entire company.