Twynstra Gudde at the forefront of intelligent transport solutions

07 January 2019 8 min. read

The Netherlands is a world leader in realising sustainable transport solutions and smart city planning. Twynstra Gudde is at the forefront of smart transport solutions, offering strategic advice to this century’s most complex mobility challenges.

It is notoriously difficult to imagine what urban mobility will look like in 2040, but it will certainly be a construct of human creativity and cooperation. The Dutch management consultancy Twynstra Gudde has a futuring methodology for cutting edge solutions, building on its more than 50 years of experience advising public and private sector clients on energy transitions in the mobility sector, policy development on accessibility issues, governance concerning new mobility concepts, and sustainable transport. The firm’s strategic and functional expertise is highly sought-after abroad – the consultancy is at the time of writing engaged in some of the world’s most complex sustainability projects in critically at-risk countries such as Colombia and Bangladesh.

But Twynstra Gudde’s knowledge and reputation continues to be shaped closer to home in the Netherlands, which is a pioneer of green transport. Having overcome the challenge of being partially below sea level and achieved worldwide fame for its cycling networks, the Netherlands is now moving onto bigger fish – zero emissions bus fleets, hydrogen fuel cells, cross-border digital transport tickets, and self-driving cars, a field in which the Netherlands is a global leader.

Zero emission buses

The firm is at the vanguard of all of these developments, advising the Dutch government and its various ministries, major multinationals in the energy sector, innovative startups, banks and other private actors on how best to navigate change. In one example, Twynstra Gudde is leading a cross-industry partnership including the European Investment Bank, the Dutch Ministry for Transport, market parties, and various local authorities to develop an electric bus fleet. When the project concludes in 2025, there will be a total of 5,000 electric buses on Dutch streets, generating zero emissions.Twynstra Gudde at the forefront of intelligent transport solutionsThe consultancy, founded in 1964, is chiefly involved in the transition element of this ambitious plan. For over two years its consultants managed the foundation for Zero-Emission Bus Transport – a broad coalition of government actors, research institutions, public and private transport operators, bus manufacturing companies, financing bodies, consumer interest groups, and environmental organisations.

Willem van der Leegte, CEO of the VDL Group – among Europe’s largest bus manufacturers – has said that without Twynstra Gudde’s clear vision and forging of a strong public/private sector collaboration, it is unlikely that VDL would have invested so heavily in the future of sustainable transport. The firm’s consultants also helped set up pilot projects comparing electric and hydrogen-fueled buses, made business cases for their eventual roll-out, developed financial strategies to keep business happy, and conducted research into the ultimate impact the arrival of the 2025 fleet will have on Dutch society. 

At an international level, the firm is supporting the delivery of ‘Socrates 2.0’ – a pan-European programme that brings together road authorities, service providers and car manufacturers to set new standards to share and integrate traffic information. By leveraging Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), governments and transport associations believe that congestion can dip while making roads safer.

Digital railroads

While smart travel cards make life simpler for residents of London, Paris and Amsterdam, the next step is to roll out digitalisation internationally and integrate ticket systems with smartphones. Twynstra Gudde is collaborating with Eureka Rail* to help push this process forward and bring smart ticketing to Dutch, German and Belgian railroads. 

This presents an enormous logistical and governance challenge that necessitates complex and reliable partnerships between a huge range of public and private stakeholders representing different industries and countries. To this end, Twynstra Gudde has created a multi-stakeholder governance structure involving all relevant partners. This hybrid approach is vital to the success of transition projects requiring a range of partners with competing interests to accept the end result. In this case the ultimate goal is to create a single ticket and payment system that is digital, easy to use, and accepted by rail authorities in three countries, each with different languages. 

To ensure the success of the project, Twynstra Gudde facilitates an independent governance which balances interests and presents the value of the common goal in terms that all parties can understand. It involves all parties in the decision-making process, and properly leverages the different skills, knowledge and experience that each brings to the table. The Dutch consultancy was selected for this project because its team boasts deep experience in the smart ticketing domain, instrumental in the introduction of the OV chip card in the Netherlands – a smart card that has largely replaced paper tickets across the country for regular users.Smart travel cards make life simpler in London, Paris and AmsterdamThe consulting firm was hired by the Dutch government to facilitate discussions between the public and private actors involved in pioneering the scheme at its early stages. While in many UK cities travellers have to buy different tickets for different bus companies, let alone transport methods, through the OV card Dutch commuters can access the entire public transport system. This is due to the Twynstra Gudde-initiated relationship between transport companies and service providers.

Fuel cells and future trends

Through its partnership with global chemical company Nouryon, Twynstra Gudde also helped kick-start a hydrogen mobility project which is now fully operational. The purpose of the project, based in the Groningen region, is to harness hydrogen as an energy source for buses and other vehicles through hydrogen fuel cells. 

Further afield, Twynstra Gudde is working with one of the world’s largest oil companies to calculate long-term global energy demand and develop sustainable transport alternatives based on those figures. Specifically, the firm was tasked with assessing the future impact of self-driving cars on energy demand. In doing so, Twynstra Gudde collaborated with major US consultancy North Highland, and China-based consulting firm S.Point to evaluate energy trends in Europe, the US and Asia (all three firms are member of Cordence Worldwide). The rigorous study led to long-term projections spanning as far as 2050. The private client requested a ‘picture of the world’ in the future and this was duly provided.

Carbon free

Many people, businesses and even consultancies are in denial that change is happening. Twynstra Gudde, by contrast, has been at the forefront of change. The firm also has a long-term strategy, not simply for itself, but for clients who will be continuing to innovate in 2050 – by which point Twynstra Gudde expects to have helped the Netherlands achieve a carbon-free economy.

The firm’s key message is that green technology, sustainability, and smart mobility aren’t merely the solutions to the world’s resources crisis, but are also profitable enterprises that will underpin and encourage economic growth. Successfully organising effective collaboration between stakeholders from vastly different industries and with often competing perspectives is a Herculean challenge. Only through its experience managing public/private partnerships, its deep industry knowledge, and commitment to independence and impartiality, has Twynstra Gudde been able to overcome that challenge and play its role in securing a safer future.

Related: Trailblazing Dutch consultancy Twynstra takes on global challenge.

* EurekaRail consists of several parties that are jointly working to address the issue of cross-border rail traffic between Germany, Belgian and the Netherlands in order of the Directorate General Mobility and Transport of the European commission.