Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)



Hilary Holden

Country: UK

Name: Hilary Holden (nee Crowther)

Company: Greater Cambridge City Deal

Position: Team Leader, City Access

ITS Course: MSc Transport Planning 1999

Since summer 2016 I have been back home in the UK and very lucky to be working in the beautiful and historic city of Cambridge. I am leading on City Access on behalf of the five local City Deal partners: the County Council, the City Council, the district Council, the University of Cambridge and the Local Enterprise Partnership. My team is progressing an eight-point package of measures to tackle peak time congestion. The package currently includes physical demand management measures and a workplace parking levy.

Until summer 2016 I worked at the City of Toronto as the first Director of Transit and Sustainable Transportation working to the Chief Planner. I led a team focused on defining the transit investment plan for inclusion in the 2017 update of the City of Toronto's Official Plan. In parallel, we progressed the planning and approvals for the top four priority projects (surface streetcar priority, new subway line, new LRT and enhanced heavy rail). I also found time to collaborate across the organization to work out how we can make transformational changes that prioritize use of sustainable modes as Toronto continues to experience unprecedented growth. 

Prior to summer 2015, I led the Transport Planning business in Canada for international consultancy Arup. I transferred to Toronto with Arup from their Leeds office in 2010. As planners and engineers, Arup's transportation planning team works with public sector clients as well as private developers. The team works on transit corridors, stations/hubs and sustainable strategies which are all seeking to position transit as the mode of choice.

In 1999 I graduated with distinction in the first year of the MSc in Transport Planning at ITS. This has been a differentiator. It has enabled me to provide specialist advice and work alongside and complement the work of engineers within and outside of Arup. To encourage recognition of the profession, I eagerly volunteered for the pilot of the Transport Planning Professional qualification which is equivalent to chartership for engineers and has helped to define the profession. In Ontario, transport planning is not a defined academic discipline, so I provided strategic advice between that provided by transport engineers and urban planners.

"ITS gave me a solid foundation in all aspects of my profession, and gave me the opportunity to explore a research topic that I found utterly absorbing. ITS also gave me the opportunity to learn from passionate professionals. I feel very lucky to have spent a year at ITS and to have made connections with staff and peers."

For my first degree I read geography at Cambridge, which was my first choice course at my first choice university. I had no clue where this would lead me, but through pure serendipity, I found myself working as a transport planner in a consultancy. After a year I was inspired to study full time again. When I looked at what was on offer in Leeds I was hooked. I was lucky enough to be awarded a Rees Jeffreys Road Fund scholarship and moved across the Pennines from Manchester to become a student at ITS. It was life changing. It was the beginning of an exciting career that allows me to combine my interests in the environment, society, politics and economics.

My advice to students interested in this course is to make the most of what is on offer at ITS and get a strong, comprehensive academic foundation as you don’t know where your career will take you. My course at ITS was intensive and hard work, but you get out what you put in.

To read more on her work regarding the city peak time access control plan for roads in Cambridge, click here.