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Advancing public transport with the next generation of leaders: Sitting down with our 2021 Scholars

  • Global
  • Communication
As they begin their courses...

We’re learning more about our Scholars

Earlier this year, when we launched our new UITP Scholarship programme, we were delighted to receive an impressive number of applicants from all corners of the globe.

Not only would our five winning Scholars get the chance to learn from industry experts in order to take the next steps in their working journey, they would be able showcase their passion for urban mobility along the way.

Now, as our Scholars begin their courses, we’d like to get to know them a little bit more…so we’ll be meeting all five of them in a series of interviews over the coming weeks and months.


Meet the Scholars…

A reminder

Our new scholars Iqbal, Joemier, Mariana, Danait and Utkarsh come from Afghanistan, the Philippines, India, Brazil and Ethiopia, showing the global reach of UITP and our sector.

They are from members and non-members of UITP and work across the public transport sector as officers, specialists, engineers, managers, lecturers and more.

Across the coming months, our five winners will take part on several dedicated courses with the UITP Academy to learn from industry experts and grow their careers.

They will be participating in sessions dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, ITS and IT Technologies and Public Transport Fundamentals.

Now we’re taking the time to get to know them to find out what drew them to apply, what they hope to gain from their course and what’s next for their public transport career.

Up first...

We get to know Joemier

Q: Can you tell our readers a little bit about you and your career so far?

I am a young professional in the Philippines focusing in the field of urban and transportation planning, with an emphasis on governance. I have been a public servant working for the Philippine government since 2015 and currently I am Project Manager at the Department of Transportation, working under the Road Transport and Infrastructure sector. I handle various transportation projects, one of which is the Public Utility Vehicle Modernisation Program (PUVMP), launched in 2017, aiming to modernise the road-based public transportation system of the country.

I am also a Doctor of Philosophy in Planning Candidate at the University of Auckland (started in Feb 2021). My research focuses on transport governance and the decarbonisation of the urban transport sector. I believe that existing knowledge products on how to decarbonise the transport sector is sufficient, and the remaining gap is on how government agencies utilise and translate them into actual policies and programs.

Q: When you learned about our new Scholarship, what drew you to apply?

My primary motivation for applying was my current work at the Department of Transportation. My program is currently the largest and most ambitious transport program of the Philippines. I am certain that the UITP Scholarship will equip me with the necessary knowledge and skills I need to improve the implementation of PUVMP.

On top of this, I am a regular public transport user. Pre-pandemic, I would ride the bus and jeepney (paratransit service in the Philippines) on a daily basis. It has been my personal advocacy to work for, and contribute to the improvement of public transportation in the Philippines.

I hope to learn from the experiences of my fellow scholars…I hope that we will be given a chance to meet each other in person and perhaps have an educational tour in a metropolitan area with a world-class public transport system.
Joemier Pontawe
Project Manager, Department of Transportation in the Philippines

Q: Your studies have started with UITP and you’re currently taking part in the first of your courses – Artificial Intelligence – what interested you in the topics you have chosen to study?

I have always been an advocate of evidence-based planning and policy-making. I chose this course since this is the future of public transport planning. The generation of big data and its utilisation using AI is undoubtedly the direction of transport authorities in improving public transport services.

Q: Our Scholarship is all about giving new opportunities to the next generation of public transport leaders. What are your hopes for your own career moving forward?  

My current priority is to finish and focus on my PhD studies once the COVID-19 situation permits me to move to New Zealand. Once I finish my PhD studies, I plan to go back to the Philippines and work once again for the government. This time, I would like to focus on bridging knowledge generation (i.e., planning) and policy/program implementation (i.e., governance). As previously mentioned, there are enough knowledge products to guide government organisations on how to improve transportation services (e.g., prioritise public and active transport; move people, not cars; disincentivise private vehicles; etc.) but there is a gap in translating these knowledge products into actual policies and programs. This is often exacerbated by the political and policy environment within which government organisations operate.

Q: And finally, at this stage what do you hope to learn from your UITP Scholarship? We’ll be checking back in with you when you graduate!

Aside from the actual courses that we will take as part of the UITP Scholarship, I hope to learn from the experiences of my fellow scholars. Beyond the course requirements, I hope that we will be given a chance to meet each other in person and perhaps have an educational tour in a metropolitan area with a world-class public transport system.

I also hope to learn about the global best practices in public transport governance. I would like to understand how other public organisations manoeuvre and move around the complicated politics of transport governance.

Thank you to Joemier for his interesting and thoughtful answers!

All our scholars aremotivated and ambitious to learn more about the sector…and UITP is looking forward to helping them develop their careers.

Stay tuned to hear more from our other Scholars as they progress through their chosen courses.

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