International Bus Conference speakers share their thoughts: Johan Holstein of Arriva

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This year, UITP will once again join forces with our collaborators at Busworld to host the International Bus Conference 2019 (Brussels, 21-23 October) – the world’s biggest event dedicated to the bus.

There are many interesting and important developments happening with the bus sector and to place a much-welcomed spotlight on the industry, UITP began our 'Story of the Bus' this summer, marking 100 days until the sector arrives in Brussels.

Setting off in July, we have informed and updated the sector on the latest innovations and advancements with the release of five brand new bus publications.

Now, as we make the final part of our journey towards our Conference, we’re stopping off at the side of the road to meet and greet a selection of our international speakers and panellists

We started getting to know our speakers with Renée Amilcar, Executive Director of Bus for Societe De Transport De Montreal and Chair of the UITP Bus Division, a Vice President of UITP and member of UITP’s Executive Board…

Up next is Johan Holstein, Development Executive for Arriva, London, UK.

Johan, you’ve held various roles within Arriva, and you’re now a Development Executive based in London. Can you tell our readers more about your current position?

Of course. Arriva has successfully expanded to become a leading pan-European public transport provider. In my current position I work for the M&A and New Market Development department supporting the identification, evaluation and delivery of Arriva’s growth. On a day-to-day basis this means I travel quite a bit to meet and speak with potential partners and stakeholders while looking for opportunities to expand our business. My current role allows me to see and experience the differences within the public transport sector across the countries – which are many - while meeting, working and collaborating with lots of different people, each with their own background and expertise which I really enjoy.

I’ve always had an interest for digital innovation and Arriva’s smart mobile solution ‘ArrivaClick’ excites me…

Arriva is a large international company, with a global reach across the public transport sector. What is Arriva doing now that excites you?   

It’s an exciting time to work in the public transport sector as I feel the sector is going through a phase of change with new modes of transport and innovations emerging. As an expanding business, you would expect Arriva to be looking to the future to find new ways to improve our transport services. And we are – with investment and expertise in everything from on-board passenger technologies to innovative ways to reduce environmental impact. I’ve always had an interest for digital innovation and Arriva’s smart mobility solution ‘ArrivaClick’ excites me as I feel that Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) is part of the solution to some of the key challenges within the sector.

During the International Bus Conference you will participate on the Parallel Session “On-demand buses, shared mobility and service optimisation” focusing on how to use innovative bus services to tackle mobility challenges. What do you hope the audience will take away from the panel?

My experience is that most of the best practices and presentations surrounding smart mobility systems focus on telling their success though commercial KPI’s. While I will be addressing those issues, I will also showcase how Arriva has used DRT models in secluded rural areas and how it can make a difference for individuals. No country, region or situation is the same and there is no ‘one size fits all solution’ to the various challenges that we face. I will share Arriva’s experience in the multiple solutions that we have implemented, given their specific characteristics. By the end of the session I hope that the audience learns something new, something practical which can be applied to further improve the delivery of their services to passengers and communities or to provide a spark which leads to a new innovation.

I believe that traditional public transport - primarily rail, light rail and rapid bus transport - will remain the backbone of strategies to move significant numbers of people to and around urban areas

You describe yourself as a curious person with drive and passion for learning – a great way to keep personal development on track! What do you think is the next big step in mobility?

A number of years ago I went to San Francisco for holiday during which I was first introduced to ridesharing. I was fascinated about how easy it was to use, how quickly you were able to get around and how affordable it was. I had the same experience a couple of months ago when I went to Warsaw with a group of friends and we used electric scooters which turned out to be a lot of fun and which – again - were extremely easy to use. I believe a next step in mobility will be around combining all these new modalities and in particular about removing boundaries and simplifying usability. Currently this is combined in the buzzword MaaS but in some years from now I believe it won’t be known to us anymore as a buzzword, but it will be known to us as standard. However, I believe that traditional public transport - primarily rail, light rail and rapid bus transport - will remain the backbone of strategies to move significant numbers of people to and around urban areas. New and technology-enabled shared mobility solutions will undoubtedly have an important role to play but as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, traditional public transport. Additionally, I will be actively following the developments surrounding autonomous transport. I believe that this will play a future role in the sector if and when developments and legislation are able to align. I for one am curious to see how this will develop and who will be the major players.

And finally, what do you think you would be doing if you weren’t in your current role? Is there a dream job for you?

When I was a child my dream job was travelling the world for work as I wanted to copy my father – which I get to do some of with my job, so I feel quite lucky. So far, I’ve always steered towards an international environment as for me this equals adventure and growth. Therefore, if I weren’t in my current role I would most likely be working for another international organisation either in a commercial role or a project management role, travelling, visiting new places and enjoying different types of food! 

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