All Change: Getting Transport Future-Fit

The future of mass transportation has never looked so uncertain. By that, I do not mean its long-term viability, more what the future holds and the associated uncertainty. How will transport operating companies adapt their operating models so that they are not only fit for purpose, but also able to take advantage of opportunities in an uncertain future?

Since the UK went into lockdown in March, the transport sector has had to adapt to the significant fall in passenger numbers and contend its public health responsibilities. Unsurprisingly in most cases, standard funding models are broken due to the over reliance on ticket revenues to cover operating costs. With lockdown shifting how we work and socialise, the impact on finances are likely here to stay.

The impact of the pandemic has seen most of us embrace technology and adapt the way we work, socialise, and engage/interact with customers. This full-throated embrace of technology has – staggeringly – seen the value of the video-conferencing software business Zoom at US$115bn. (By comparison AIG is worth a lowly US$1Obn)

The uncertainty around how we will work, and travel, impacts on plans and future investment at both Government and company level meaning our transport clients are focussing on:

  • Understanding their people capabilities by undertaking structured/in-depth leadership assessment programmes. Building development programmes based around assessment outputs against company needs. Building business cases based on assessment outputs to swap out and upgrade
  • What can be learnt operationally from the pandemic; operationally, what should we look like for the near-term ‘new normal’; what does ‘future-fit’ look like; what challenges and opportunities should we be anticipating and how can we exploit them?
  • Funding in the long and short term
  • Post COVID-19, where should we be investing and when?

Our transport clients also feel that they have a duty to support the recovery of the economy by running full services. This is something the sector has done exceptionally well by:

  • Keeping the passenger infrastructure and vehicles clean
  • Providing safe, secure, controlled environments
  • Running full services, where possible, in a socially distanced manner

Despite the above, and the physical testing of transport ‘touch-points’ by Imperial College which showed no traces of COVID-19, public confidence in mass transport is still low. The rollout of a vaccine will go a long way to bring confidence back, however the ongoing impact of COVID-19 will be significant as more people will choose to reduce their time in the office and hold meetings via video conference rather than in person. Whilst history tells us that passenger numbers will come back – as they did following both the SARS crisis and 911 – the consensus from speaking to clients is that 2019 numbers are not expected to return for at least 5 years.

Considering the above, we are actively supporting our clients find solutions to these challenges by helping them:

  • Future proof their business: We are helping clients better understand the capability of their teams through the creation of success profiles (‘what good looks like’), the assessment of individuals against these, and the creation of individual development plans to help raise the calibre of individuals, teams, and the business as a whole.
  • Understand the capability gaps within their own teams: We are supporting clients and helping them understand – at a granular level – the competitor talent landscape. We then benchmark their own teams against the competition via our Research & Insight Practice giving clients the evidence needed to make properly informed people decisions. We build the business for any change.
  • Manage change and transformation: By providing our clients with experienced Interim Managers and independent consultants we can support the development/execution of sustainable change strategies.
  • Develop strategy: Our Research & Insight Practice are undertaking business intelligence projects which are designed to help clients better understand how other companies and sectors have achieved success in, say, digital transformation. They are then using this information to build investment business cases and support the creation of business strategies.

If you would like to confidentially discuss how Norman Broadbent Group could help you overcome your business or people challenges, please contact Nick Behan on +44 (0) 0207 484 0106 or via