Volume II – No. 2 – September 2005
In focus this newsletter is Corinne Mulley (below), Senior Lecturer in Transport Economics at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Corinne did a ‘tag-team’ presentation on bus regulation and deregulation with Maggie Walsh at the Dearborn Conference last year (your editor can affirm that neither dropped the baton!). More seriously, Corinne brings a highly impressive resume to T2M, combining an impressive academic career with significant public policy achievements. She is a fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport and will be involved in the internet/technology side of T2M operations. The Newsletter caught up with her over the summer.
1) How did you get interested in transport history?
I began work on a project looking at the regulation of buses in the UK – this was in 1979, before deregulation was ever raised. This project was the brainchild of Gilbert Ponsonby, a retired academic from the LSE, who had written extensively in the 1950s about the inefficiencies brought about by the 1930 Road Traffic Act so far as bus licensing was concerned. The Rees Jeffreys Road Fund sponsored the project, based at the LSE, and Theo Barker, Alan Day and Stephen Glaister were the academics responsible. I began to look at the background to the 1930 Road Traffic Act at the Public Record Office – specifically papers which had only recently been released under the 50 year rule and found that the story behind it was not the one that the literature had been giving! At this point I became hooked and have become fascinated by looking at primary sources in particular.
2) Tell us a little about what you’ve been working on recently?
On the history side, I have been looking at the effects of nationalisation under the 1945 Acton the bus industry. I am also the Editor of a proposed Companion to Road Passenger Transport History which will be a source book (much like the Companion to Road Haulage edited by John Armstrong and published by the Science Museum a few years ago). A working group has been set up, under the auspices of the Road and Rail Transport History Association which represents a number of different transport history societies and which is working on the draft entries.
3) Being an engineer and an economist, you’re unusual in the T2M setup. What input do you think these disciplines can bring to our field?
I’m not an engineer! Being a transport economist is fairly unusual but transport, as an academic study in the UK, has in most institutions grown out of Highway Engineering. Although transport as a field is now much more multidisciplinary, transport departments tend to reside in or close to Civil Engineering as a discipline. But being an economist is unusual in T2M. A study of history for me allows my policy work on current day issues to be informed by the past. I hope that I can bring this to T2M – a study of history is wider than establishing what has happened, history has a real role in making sure that current policy is soundly based.
4) You’re also (unfortunately, still) also uncommon in being a woman interested in transport history? How far have gender analyses come in our field and where do you see them going in the future?
Gender studies have come a long way in transport (given the nature of the subject) and the more multidisciplinary transport studies becomes, the more gender analysis becomes important. In terms of current policy, there is work being carried out at the University of West of England in Bristol which is looking at the interface of sociology and transport and this is very gender focused. But there is a long way to go – policy makers do not realise quite how much more attention needs to be placed on gender issues – particularly in public transport.
5) Tyneside has been quite innovative in urban transport networks in the past (I’m thinking obviously of the metro). Are there any lessons to be drawn for other urban areas?
Tyneside’s innovations were pre-deregulation when their new metro and integrated public transport was almost futuristic in its design. But deregulation virtually killed that integration by allowing buses to run alongside the metro – the only real innovation then was the design of the integrated network ticket, created after the formation of a private company to which all bus companies were invited to be members. In terms of more recent innovations, Tyneside is affected like many metropolitan areas in the UK by lack of cash. It is also hindered by the fragmentation caused by the dissolution of the metropolitan county council with the remit to provide an integrated transport policy and the powers to raise money to pay for it. If the policy makers who removed Tyne and Wear as a metropolitan county had been students of history, maybe the outcome would have been different!