The moving of objects and people from one point to another is one of our greatest achievements. But it also brought new problems once implemented globally.
An important factor when it comes to transportation is safety.
With the population growing and more people traveling, new regulations and laws are needed to ensure people are protected when traveling to and from locations. That includes large events where people are gathering or using mass transit before and after the show or the game.
One such law is the Safety Act by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Safety Act was implemented in 2002 after 9/11. The Act works to incentivize companies to develop and deploy anti-terrorism technology, which can include products or services. The goal of the Act is to provide liability protection to event organizers in case of an emergency and encourage the use of designated products and services.
In December 2022, the first company in mobility plan consulting services has been awarded the Safety Act designation — Stantec. The category of mobility plan consulting services is also new under the Act, created based on input from Stantec.
Metro spoke with Graeme Masterton, transit planning leader at Stantec, on how the company handles safety in transportation event planning.
The Ins and Outs of Transportation Event Planning
Stantec is a global design and engineering firm. Not only does it have initiatives in event planning, but also in smart cities, climate solutions, ecosystem restoration, and more. Its goal is to design with communities in mind no matter the location.
Masterton is a trained urban planner with 35 years of experience in the industry, 20 of them specifically in transit planning. He worked with BC Transit, TransLink (Vancouver BC), and Calgary Transit before going into consulting.
He has planned transportation for a wide range of events such as college and professional sports games and the Olympics in Vancouver/Whistlerand London, U.K.
Masterton said that when planning large events like the Olympics, “you have to take a deep dive into full mobility planning — not only coaches and buses but taxi ranks, bicycle planning, pedestrians, and major event partner rides — for each venue.”
One aspect Stantec is proud of is its methodology and processes of transportation planning. This includes two aspects:
- Using data extensively to understand how people travel.
- And making transportation as safe as possible.
By using these two aspects of its process, Masterton can plan for the safest transportation design possible.
Not only does Stantec believe in looking at the big picture, but it also considers simple things such as:
- Pedestrian walking spaces.
- Transit terminal queue space.
- Separating buses, vehicles headed for parking, bikes, scooters and pedestrians, and rideshares.
- Reducing conflict points.
Masterton explained, “Stantec’s theory of business is that decreasing the massing of people outside the facility as quickly as possible at the end of an event will make it safer.”
The Psychology of Movement
To make transportation as safe as possible, Masterton uses the psychology of movement.
It’s the understanding of how people travel. With this knowledge, he can design a transportation system that is easy to understand and simple to operate.
When it comes to event transportation planning, every event is unique. One of the biggest challenges is getting people to go where they need to go to avoid conflicts.
“People are focused on getting back to wherever they're trying to go. It’s challenging to corral them into doing what you want them to do,” Masterton explained.
People are also more likely to be unaware of their surroundings during and after big events because they are there to have fun and enjoy the spectacle.
With the help of the psychology of movement, when planning, Masterton focuses on providing the necessary information at the right time for people to make decisions ranging from how to get to parking or walking from a transit station to the venue.
The Future of Event Transportation Planning
Stantec’s base model of mobility planning can also be transformed for emergency scenarios, including evacuations and shelter-in-place requirements.
As the first firm to be awarded the Safety Act designation, it also proposed Mobility Plan Consulting Services to be included under the Safety Act.
Before the designation, DHS had little focus on transportation for event planning. With the new designation awarded to Stantec, the industry standard best practices will grow stronger.
When it comes to the future of event transportation following the Safety Act designation, Masterton said, “Transportation needs to have well thought-through processes and planning. I believe this designation is going to formalize some of those processes. It will push us, and the industry to look at auditing and following up on what companies are doing — building a higher professional standard. Transit services can play a big role in moving people away from a venue quickly and efficiently, reducing the massing of people and improving the potential safety for everyone.”
Masterton explained that it’s often the case that Stantec is hired for event transportation planning just before the actual event. He hopes this designation will bring light to the time needed for planning transportation during a big event.
When it comes to event planning, Masterton’s advice is “don’t wait until the last second to plan transportation. Transportation is as important as food and beverage, security, and washroom planning.”