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Three cities, five days, 28 meetings: Kaan Yildizgoz and Sebastien Desmet build a new UITP presence in Australia and New Zealand

  • Global
G'Day from Australia!

As Kaan and Sebastien head Down Under…

It’s a long way to go to reach the other side of the world…

And as a global association, there’s a responsibility to go the distance to make sure that UITP is truly international.

This month, with an agenda set for a tour of Australia to grow our visibility, we set off to show what UITP can do for our members, current and future.

Before we dig into the present, let us catch you up on the background story that led us here.

In July 2021, UITP ended the ongoing collaboration we had with the local association in Australia and New Zealand that offered its services to members in the two countries under the UITP logo. With that change, a decision was made at our Annual General Assembly to establish a new UITP ANZ Division: one that is fit for the future.

And that’s why the two of us set off on an action-packed trip, with a five-day agenda of 28 meetings in three cities. The aim? To showcase what UITP stands for, and most importantly, showing what our association can do for our members and the sector.

So with that in mind, here’s the story of a journey to the other side of the world with UITP’s Senior Director of Global Growth Kaan Yildizgoz and Head of Membership Sebastien Desmet, growing UITP each step of the way…

A three city tour...

With an agenda for the future

Kaan: UITP has a long history in Australia and New Zealand. The association may go back to 1885, but did you know that the UITP Global Public Transport Summit itself goes all the way back to 1886, as the International World Congress and Exhibition? The 50th edition was actually held in Sydney from 2-7 May 1993. This was the only edition organised in the Asia-Pacific and Australasia regions.

That was to change in 2021, when the next edition was to take place in Melbourne, but for the first time since the Second World War, the UITP Summit was cancelled after a careful analysis of the situation with our local partners. We may not have had the brilliant opportunity to bring the world of public transport to Australia, but that doesn’t mean the country and region didn’t remain in UITP’s vision for the future. And as the new Senior Director of Global Growth for UITP, I was pleased to lead the expedition to build those relations alongside our Head of Membership Sebastien…

Sebastien:Australia is a country I know well, as it’s a place with a strong professional and personal history for me. Being responsible for growing UITP’s membership around the world, I take great pride in the fact that I will get to oversee that growth in Australia and New Zealand. Looking at an agenda across three major cities – Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, our plan grew to feature 28 important meetings in five days. Up first, came Melbourne…

Kaan: Our first two days in Melbourne covered the entire spectrum of the people and bodies that UITP engages with: members, decision makers, educational institutions and external stakeholders. We met with the Department of Transport Victoria and the City of Melbourne and the teams leading strategy, planning and also climate change. It’s important to meet with those at the decision-making level, as UITP has a long history of pushing public transport up the agenda with mayors and government ministers. What stands out from the variety of meetings in Melbourne is the ability to cover the whole spectrum of UITP engagement – proven by the fact that we also met on the same day with the Chair of Public Transport at Monash University. We see more and more educational institutions as members of UITP.

Sebastien: From there we moved to meet with operators and networks for strategic conversations alongside Stantec, Yarra Trams, Keolis Downer, Kinetic, Transdev, the John Holland Group, MCB Melbourne, Metro Trains, ARUP and Scania. For me, as Head of Membership, this level of engagement is what brings me the most pleasure. I want to present to as many organisations as possible the benefits of joining the UITP family. Meeting more than 10 of them in one city, across two days, gives me the perfect opportunity to do that. And with that, we departed Melbourne for Brisbane…

Kaan:Arriving in Brisbane, our visit may have been across just one day, but it was no less full of interesting, relevant and important meetings. Once again, we kept the political aspect of our trip alive, hosting a meeting with the Chair of Transport for Brisbane City Council. Brisbane will host the Olympics in 2032, where the ceremony will be the first ‘climate positive’ edition, seeing more carbon savings than emissions. A message very much in line with UITP’s push for more public transport in our cities to reduce emissions and bring cleaner air. From there we also met with Translink, Trapeze Group and PTA ANZ, to keep building relations with members and seeing what others in the sector are doing.

Sebastien:And from there we headed down to Sydney for two days of activity, with a schedule almost as full as Melbourne. Our time in the city meant more membership engagement, more time with decision makers, and more meetings from morning until evening. We had the pleasure to sit down with Sydney Trains, Sydney Metro, Consat, Cubic, The Transport Tourism Forum, Aurecon, Alstom, the Bus Industry Confederation, ICC Sydney, the Department of Transportation, the City of Sydney, RATP Dev and Bus New South Wales. A packed agenda. And time for me to see the city I used to call home along the way!


Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney...

Across five days

Kaan:And with our final meeting alongside the City of Sydney, it seemed perfectly apt to end our five day trip as it began – meeting with decision makers to put forward the messages of UITP and the benefits to being a member of our association. Australia and New Zealand are special countries, and the growing mega-cities and remote rural areas make them both unique environments for public transport to thrive. There is a strong commitment to public transport across the region, and the local players can see the benefits to the global presence of UITP.

Sebastien: There’s strong local companies working hard in Australia across areas that are hugely beneficial to our membership. Whether that is in I.T., infrastructure, engineering or design – the market is looking for opportunities overseas. UITP is best placed to provide those options, and I have a feeling our five day, three city, 28 meeting tour made the case for that, and more.

And there you have it. A whirlwind of activity, with one major aim in mind: to grow UITP’s presence and build a new, exciting base in Australia and New Zealand.

We are fully committed to offering UITP’s services to the public transport sector in ANZ, where we will work with local associations on a project-by-project basis.

The incredible benefits of UITP membership only become available to those who become members of our association. The promising meetings we had in Australia show there is great interest in UITP and our missions. And why? Because the message of sustainable urban mobility is a universal one. And it’s the mission at the very heart of UITP.

Our unique position as the oldest and largest association of our kind in public transport is based on our knowledge, our networking, our events and our global dimension.

With a newly established UITP Australia and New Zealand Division, it will have its own Board consisting of members from the regions who decide on activities related to ANZ.

As the UITP Global Public Transport Summit heads to Barcelona next June, the many opportunities made available to members of UITP, right across the globe will be on offer: including to those members in Australia and New Zealand.

We’re both proud to see that day come very soon.

Until next time,

Kaan and Sebastien.

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