Martin Chow

HoustonKemp

Senior Economist

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Tell us about you, and your career journey?

I have been an economic consultant for 14 years, working mostly in the transport and energy sectors. As an economist, I bring clarity to complex economic problems tohelp our clients make informed, evidence-based decisions. For example, this often involves helping our clients understand whether there is a need to undertake an investment/reform, identify options for investment/reform, and evaluate the economic implications of reform/investment.

In your opinion, what are the top 3 trends in your transport industry niche that everybody should look out for in the next 5 years?

Three key trends to look out for over next five to ten years include:
• Considering the implications of emerging technology: In my view, the road sector is going through a transformative period with the increased uptake of electric vehicles and potential emergence of driverless vehicles. The emergence of these new technologies has the potential to change how we use the road network and vehicles in the future. This will also require economists to consider how we should adjust our approach to evaluating investments in the future.
• Improved data to inform policy and investment decision: The emergence of GPS and in-vehicle telematics provides road agencies with insights that were not previously available and could be used to improve decision making. For example, traffic modelling could incorporate network wide traffic movement data and speed/reliability performance as these data becomes more available over time.
• Changes in how governments collect revenue collected from road users: The amount of revenue the government collects from light vehicles for using the road is linked to fuel consumption via fuel excises. The amount collected from this has been declining over time as vehicles become more fuel efficient and uptake in electric vehicles increase. This has prompted some governments to consider the introduction of a distance charge for electric vehicles to address the revenue shortfall. Heavy vehicle road reform, which would change the way how heavy vehicle charges are determined, is also expected to occur in the next five years.

How does your company innovate?

Innovation requires being constantly open to new ideas and ways of doing things, to make things better for others. We work closely with our clients, drawing on lessons from other sectors, to provide unique insights to current problems. Our clients often approach us when there is a challenging problem that they want assistance with. It is through this collaborative process that we keep up with the latest issues facing our clients and innovate over time.

Why is encouraging innovation, new ideas, and applying new technology (particularly within the transport sector) important?

I believe that encouraging innovation, ideas and applying new technologies is key to helping us reach our most important goals. For example, achieving the “towards zero” vision ( where there are no road fatalities) or decarbonising the transport sector to meet our carbon emission reduction goals are not possible without new technology or innovation. New technology and innovation in the transport space is also key in helping our goods remain competitive overseas.

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