Transport is a very important part of the physical infrastructure of a country, and is one of the key components to achieving decent levels of economic development. Transport deals with both passenger transit and cargo movements, and its economic and social impact are not limited to the direct impact that the sector gives rise to itself but have ramifications across the rest of the economy.

Few of the services that we have got accustomed to in the modern world would be available in the absence of a good transport infrastructure and an efficient and carefully-planned service layer operating on top of it. Transport may take place over a number of different modes and it is not uncommon for both passengers and cargo to travel multimodally. The main areas of transport modes may be categorised under road, rail, aviation and maritime transport. Each of these areas may be subdivided further into numerous sub-categories. Transport is not only important as a means to enable other sectors to come into being, but also because different forms of transport have different forms of environmental, land use and health impacts that need to be accounted for when making transport-related decisions at a policy and implementation level.

Overall, passenger transport can be public or private. Public transport entails the use of transport facilities (infrastructure and vehicles) that allow for a number of people to make a predetermined common commute from one designated place to a destination or anywhere along the route. It is called public transport because the predetermined route is made available to a number of people to make use of subject to capacity constraints. Private transport, on the other hand, is individualised and allows for the route to be customised in accordance with the individual’s needs. For this reason, private transport is more convenient as it takes an individual to the final destination, rather than a destination that is close to the final one. Nevertheless, mass private transportation also creates problems of vehicle parking, road congestion and where fossil fuel is made use of in private transportation also to environmental and health problems. For this reason, it is becoming more customary to think about multimodal transport that shifts those legs of individual people’s routes that are common to a number of people onto public transport and to make use of clean private transport modes for the final individualised legs of the itinerary.

The transportation sector is a very complex one and encompasses many different but inter-related facets. Some of the areas we cover at Equinox Advisory follow hereunder.

Some areas of transportation require registration of vehicles, maritime vessels or aircraft in order for the transport equipment to be able to move free of impediment. Malta is the ideal registration jurisdiction for all of them because of cost considerations, the governance of the transport sector by a practical regulatory regime that does what it takes to ensure that all safety concerns are addressed while not overburdening the sector with unnecessary and burdensome procedures, and also because Malta’s transport registers have, along the years, come to stand for excellence and recognition.

Maltese personal and commercial road vehicles, whether they are going to be used exclusively in Malta or both in Malta and abroad, need to be registered with Transport Malta. Registration entails an inspection of the vehicle by a Transport Malta official, registration of the chassis number, payment of the registration and the road license fees and the issuance of Maltese number plates.

Maritime vessels, both commercial and personal, need a flag of registration identifying them as documented assets under the nationality of the country of registration. This nationality allows a ship to travel internationally under registered proof of ownership of the vessel with an entitlement to safe passage. A ship is usually bound to the law of its flag state.

When it comes to aircraft, the Convention on International Civil Aviation directs that all civil aircraft must be registered with a national aviation authority (NAA) using procedures set by the country of the NAA. An aircraft is only capable of being registered once in the owner’s jurisdiction of choice. The NAA is then responsible for allocating a unique alphanumeric registration code to identify the aircraft, while also providing a Certificate of Registration that must be carried at all times when the aircraft is in operation. The registration code must be displayed prominently on the aircraft and needs to be engraved on a permanent fireproof plate mounted on the fuselage in case of a post-fire or post-crash accident investigation.

The Motorways of the Sea is an EU endeavour intended to outline the importance of sea transport within the Union. The Motorways of the Sea are a priority of the Connecting Europe Facility and is considered as the maritime pillar of the TEN-T network. Through the Motorways of the Sea concept, it is envisaged that there will be a reduced dependence on road transport, as well as a better interconnected EU through the creation of better links with Member States that do not have a physical connection to mainland Europe. This concept also strengthens the European Commission’s endeavour to achieve a European Single Market that is more physically interconnected. Indeed, the core objective of the Motorways of the Sea is to create European, maritime-based logistical routes that are specifically chosen to bring about increased efficiency in terms of administrative and port-to-port transport costs, as well as overall energy savings and pollution reduction. A modal shift to maritime logistical transport will allow for a higher capacity of overland European networks.

Since the Motorways of the Seas is a horizontal priority of the Connecting Europe Facility, funding for related actions is available under the same facility. Funding is available for studies, pilot actions, and implementation projects related to the concept.

Inland Waterways are a time and resource efficient way of transporting both passengers and goods on a national and international scale. Very large countries and landlocked countries can benefit from inland waterways such as rivers or navigable canals to do away with congestion issues and other problems that road transport may be faced with, especially on a commercial scale where reliability and efficiency are instrumental.

The full potential of Inland Waterways is still a long way from being reached and countries or regions can capitalise on this opportunity by integrating inland waterways to their current transportation systems to achieve an efficient and multimodal logistical transport chain. The benefits of Inland Waterways in terms of energy efficiency is evident. Studies have shown the use of inland waterways for the transportation of goods to be more efficient than both rail and road transport in terms of energy consumption per kilometre per ton. Another benefit of the inland waterways is their large capacity for both cargo and passenger traffic. In some cases within the EU, infrastructural investment is required to bring them in line with the necessary technical requirements as set out under EU legislation.

Transport Action Plans, especially in terms of urban mobility, can be a crucial determinant of a locality’s, city’s, nation’s, or region’s undertaking to create a sustainable transport system. An action plan can help address and improve issues of congestion and a loss of productivity due to increased travel time. At the same time, transport action plans can determine and optimise policy objectives while internalising externality factors that may arise from a transport system such as environmental and health externalities.

Action Plans are used by transport authorities and policy makers to identify areas where action is necessary, as well as to identify what sort of actions are needed in the short, medium, and long-run to provide clear added value. Action Plans thematically propose actions and propose the launch sequence of these actions based on the study area’s needs. They are prepared through consultation with experts, stakeholders, representative groups, citizens, and institutional bodies depending on the scale and scope of the plan. A team of multidisciplinary professionals with knowledge of the transport system at hand would be best suited to propose evidence-based guidelines and policies through a holistic approach that ensures that proposed actions elicit the maximum level of benefits while solving the issues at hand.

Public transport systems have an important role to play in creating and maintaining efficient transport networks. When a city, region, or country has a very high dependency on private transport, congestion problems are usually higher and more land has to be dedicated, where it is available, to roads. Public transport systems provide collective transport modes that when used on a large scale can have a big impact on the issues faced by a transport network. Public transport is not limited to traditional road and rail transport such as buses and trains, but may also extend to bicycle sharing, carpooling, and ferry services.

To achieve a multimodal transport balance, confidence in the public transport system, which may in the long run only be achieved through the implementation and maintenance of an efficient and reliable system, is key. To generate public confidence or to increase it, public transport plans and schemes can be designed to increase the efficiency of public transport systems. Several factors such as demand, the geographical areas to be covered and at what frequency, topography, available resources, prices and price structures, timeliness, convenience considerations and social structure will determine how a public transport system is set out. New technologies such as Intelligent Transport Systems and other transport solutions such as priority lane allocation can be used to optimise a transport system. Public transport plans and schemes can provide support to public authorities and policy makers when making national or regional transport decisions.

The sine qua non of a reliable transport system is an adequate availability of infrastructure. Road and structural infrastructure design entails the preliminary and detailed planning of new, refurbished or re-engineered roads and structural elements relating to both road and non-road transport network infrastructure. Non-road transport network infrastructure may include bridges, tunnels, seaports, cable car links, ferry terminals, railway structures, metro systems, and airports.

While carrying out road and structural design works, a number of parameters such as the number of expected vehicles and the years of expected use of the asset before it would require renewal must first be determined and then factored into the planning calculations. The types of vehicles which will use the infrastructure, their weight and their dimensions, as well as the human driving element must also be factored into the design. Other elements to consider include accessibility, convenience, amalgamation with other public utilities, and aesthetics.

It is amply clear that in the design phase of road or structural projects, there is an element of planning and development that requires an analysis of the potential positive and negative impacts of the investment. These impacts include environmental impacts, impacts on land use, land values, changes in safety levels of affected areas, and improvements in journey times. These elements, among others, indicate whether or not an infrastructural project is economically viable in terms of costs and benefits. It is also important to estimate the financial costs of building and maintaining new infrastructure as well as the potential revenues that may be generated to ensure that the project is both financially feasible and therefore sustainable, as well as affordable.

Research and Design through satellite technologies within road traffic management have given rise to reliable and complete sources of information that allow traffic modellers and planners to model traffic flows given infrastructural or temporary changes as well as to implement decisions in real-time. Satellite technologies allow for better and more comprehensive data capturing through things such as high-resolution imaging and video scanning. These include satcom / satnav technologies, as well as Geographical Information Systems (GIS) which collect and analyse transport data and can be integrated with transport models and traffic simulators to determine network usage and traffic flows.

There are several Intelligent Transport System (ITS) applications for satellite technology and navigation. These technologies are instrumental in providing traffic management officials with real-time passenger data as well as in-vehicle data which can be used to adapt a transport system and ancillary infrastructure (like street lighting levels) to the current traffic situation and increase overall road safety. Information gathered through satellite technologies can also be used to determine the environmental impact of a transport system through greenhouse gas monitoring and other meteorological applications.

Transport telematics is the use of one- or two-way telecommunication and other information transmitting technologies in collaboration with Information Technology (IT) to optimise the efficiency of a vehicle, transportation mode, or transportation system. There are different types of vehicular telematics such as car-to-car communication as well as communication between vehicles and fixed locations (car-to-infrastructure) like those used in bus trackers. These systems use satellite navigation, mobile data, and/or wireless communication to transmit the information necessary for vehicular telematics. Through the use of telematics, mobility efficiency, logistics optimisation and environmental improvements can be achieved for different modes of transportation. Telematics have also improved transportation safety standards with regards to vehicular safety features, as well as improved road-side emergency response time. There is an extensive range of available systems which cover and can interconnect all transport modes, such as road, rail, water, and air transport.

Several applications of vehicle telematics have been developed over time. These include: vehicle tracking and navigation through GPS/GNSS navigation; integrated vehicle technologies such as hands-free calls; and trailer/freight container location and condition monitoring for goods in transit that require specific temperatures or conditions. Vehicle telematics can be used by public transport companies or logistical/shipping companies to carry out fleet management. Good fleet management, when paired with other optimisation techniques can help an entity comply with local or regional legislation or reach emission targets or to minimise congestion charging.

As IT improves and computational power increases exponentially, transport models and simulations can be increasingly used to predict traffic flow at very accurate rates while rendering very complex optimisation problems easier and faster to deal with. These models virtually create traffic simulations for entire cities, regions, or small states. At the current state of technology, very high computational power is required. However, given improved ease of access and affordability of high-performance computers, transport models and simulations are being used to ever-increasing extents.

These models do not only have the capacity to model and simulate traffic. They can also be used in the the planning of evacuation of an area following an emergency or natural disaster. Other applications include the simulation of traffic flows should there be closures due to work being carried out on road infrastructure. This would allow transport authorities to prepare for such occurrences and to plan for and avoid delays and bottlenecks through the various measures available.

These models factor for human travel behaviour, infrastructure layout, demographic trends and potential risks within a unified transport network. These factors, when combined with additional information gathered through ITS applications will help create and feed into tailor-made transport models that strive to improve the efficiency and performance of the overall transport system.

At Equinox, we understand the importance of giving due consideration to the ways in which transport infrastructure and land availability can impact on economic activity and where that economic activity takes place. Even though it has become quite normal to consider transport projects and their effects in their totality, one cannot ignore the socio-economic costs and benefits that such projects bring about to the areas contiguous to new transport infrastructure and no analysis would be complete if it ignores the issues of where resulting costs and benefits are going to arise.

Equinox is structured to be able to offer complete turnkey solutions in the transport sector. It has the expertise required to analyse traffic patterns and flows through GIS and specialised transport planning software, optimise infrastructure and eradicate transport bottlenecks, plan transport network upgrades, intelligent transport network installations and upgrades, design modal shift programmes, determine environmental impact, and to determine the costs and benefits of specific transport investments where standard, run of the mill models cannot and do not give the full picture. The methodologies developed by Equinox for analysing and assessing transport issues and problems all revolve around a method of assessment and analysis that is designed to allow policymakers, investors and other possible stakeholders to understand in full the potential impacts of proposed transport infrastructure investments.

For more information on how we may be of help in your transport requirements, please contact us here.