Saturday, May 19, 2018

An Outstanding Transportation Conference in Switzerland with Photos

I am writing this blogpost from Zurich, Switzerland.

I am in Switzerland because of the 18th Swiss Transport Research Conference (SRTC), which took place May 16-18, 2018 in Monte Verita, Ascona, Switzerland.

When the invitation to give a keynote talk at this conference arrived months ago from Professor Kay Axhausen of ETH Zurich, I immediately accepted. The timing was ideal - just after our multiple UMass Amherst graduations signalling the end of another great academic year and before the CORS Conference in Canada and other exciting events. Also, since I love doing research in transportation and logistics and teach in this area, the conference theme was ideal.

The organization of the conference was outstanding and my itinerary was planned to the greatest detail and with fabulous care and thoughtfulness and I am incredibly grateful. I arrived in Zurich on Monday, after a very comfortable flight from Boston Logan on Swiss International. My hosts had even researched which would be the ideal seat for me in business class! On Tuesday, I met with Professor Kay Axhausen and doctoral students as well as a colleague from Denmark, Professor Otto Nielsen of DTU, whose seminar talk I very much enjoyed.

Another special treat, which demonstrates the serendipity of travel - I got to meet the nephew of Professor Dietrich Braesss of Braess Paradox fame, who is now at ETH Zurich and we took the photo below.
 Then we had a lovely dinner in the Old Town part of Zurich.
What would a transportation conference be without exploring and experiencing modes of transport? So, last Wednesday, a group of us convened at the Zurich Central Train Station to begin our journey to the conference site and we only had one change of trains (on our return yesterday we had two). The scenery was spectacular with lakes, mountains, valleys, and lovely homes as well as animals ranging from big cows to sheep.

We were met by a bus at the Lorcano train station, which drove us to a point on a mountain at which we disembarked and made our trek up to the conference venue, Monte Verita. The photo below I took from my villa hotel room.
I was so honored to open up the conference with my keynote talk: Perishable Product Supply Chain Networks: The Role of Transportation, which can be downloaded here.
The conference was organized with only two parallel sessions plus three keynote talks as well as discussion sessions. All the meals were included as well as breaks, which allowed for numerous opportunities for discussions and conversations. I thoroughly enjoyed brainstorming about the present and future of transport around the globe and expectations for impacts on cities, rural communities, and the world, with innovations in autonomous vehicles as well as shared mobility. It was fascinating to speak with researchers and doctoral students as well as practitioners from Europe, the US, and Asia.
The beauty of the venue was breathtaking, as was the elegance, and exceptional organization of the conference. 
Some other highlights included meeting a doctoral student from the University of Catania in Italy, who told me that one of his absolutely favorite professors was Professor Patrizia Daniele, with whom, coincidentally, I had published yet another paper just this past week.
Also, meeting Professor Norman Garrick from the University of Connecticut was very special. He is now on sabbatical at ETH, which is one of the top universities in the world.
 I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the keynote talks by Professor Caspar Chorus from TU Delft in The Netherlands and by Claudio Ruch from ETH Zurich.

We took the group photo below.
This was a conference that set new standards. I would also like to thank the sponsors for making this conference possible. I thoroughly enjoyed conversations with representatives from SBB (Swiss Railways) and from Swiss Roadways. The transportation experiences have been idyllic and the conference was as well. Kudos to Professor Kay Axhausen and also special thanks to his research assistant, Mr. Felix Becker.