In Leipzig, Germany, more than 1000 decision makers – politicians, CEOs, leading researchers and the heads of international organisations – will gather in two weeks for the 2015 Summit of the International Transport Forum.

José Viegas is Secretary-General of the Forum and we asked him to explain the importance of the event.

“ITF’s Annual Summit is the unique platform for a global conversation on strategies for transport in the 21st century,” says José.

Prior to assuming his current role, José was a professor of transport at the Technical University of Lisbon and also chairman of T.I.S., a consultancy firm advising on transport issues to organisations like the World Bank and the European Commission. In other words, he’s not unfamiliar with the brain-melting problems that the world faces in organising transport.

“Since its launch in 2008, the Annual Summit has developed into the leading global get-together of the key players in transport and transport-related sectors, providing a unique platform for high-level exchange on strategic policy issues.”

While it’s not a gathering that’s widely known to the general public, its impact is significant. “Our mission is to help shape the transport policy agenda on a global level, ensuring that it contributes to economic growth, environmental protection, social inclusion and the preservation of human life and well-being”, explains José.

To give specific examples, an ITF team recently worked with the Mexican government on revising the regulatory framework for rail freight in the country. Their suggestions were passed into law. Another example for ITF work is a recent study on the potential impact of shared self-driving vehicles on city traffic, with some startling conclusions:

“If an autonomous ride-sharing system is put into place,” says José, “the number of vehicles necessary to satisfy all the current trips could be reduced by as much as two thirds, even at the peak hours.”

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