SYSTRA Ltd 50 Year History

1968 In 1968, the then-Labour Government was investigating how urban transport policy should develop to respond to the challenges of traffic congestion, and as part of that process, it invited bids for the development of a transport plan centred on Newcastle. One of the invited bidders was Alan M Voorhees, who ran a transport planning consultancy in the US called AMV Inc. He joined forces with British firm Colin Buchanan and Partners in the successful bid for the project, which was known as the Tyne and Wear Transport Study and ultimately led to the Tyne and Wear Metro – the UK’s first light rail system. To undertake the project, AMV Inc created a UK subsidiary called AMV Ltd, which was the first specialist transport planning consultant in the UK.
1970 In 1970, AMV Ltd acquired Research Projects Ltd to add Social and Market Research skills to their offering. In this year, the company secured its first ten projects. In 1971 we were commissioned to develop a model for creating a modern and efficient transport system for Dublin, the Dublin Rapid Rail Transit Study. In autumn 1974, the newly created West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council (WYMCC) and the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive commissioned us to create what was, at the time, the largest transportation study ever undertaken in the UK outside of London. The West Yorkshire Transportation Studies, which we prepared over a two- and a half-year period, were comprehensive reviews designed to help the council in planning for the future and in making the best use of existing services and facilities. This year, we also won our 100th contract – British Rail/Kellogs national rail promotion, a market research project looking at the effect of promotional ticket offers on patronage.
1976 In 1976 the company changed its name to Martin Voorhees Associates. Turnover hit £1m in 1978 and we opened an office in Hong Kong. In 1980, MVA Systematica was formed, they adapted the existing US-developed transport planning software TRIPS, rewriting much of it to suit the British situation with its different modelling philosophies, road designs, traffic controls and public transport operations That program package, today known as CUBE, was subsequently commercialised by us and became the most widely used modelling package in the world. It remains a market leader today, with thousands of users across every major transport market. This was also the year that the Tyne & Wear Metro opened, bringing our first project to fruition.
1981 We worked on the Singapore Comprehensive Bus Study starting in 1981, the work kept us busy in Singapore for nearly 25 years. It was an interesting and challenging programme, which often involved radical change. The work involved every aspect of bus operation from route planning through to helping implement both data and ticket processing. We transferred our skills to local managers. There are no bigger accolades than being a victim of your own success and working yourself out of a job.
1983 In 1983, following a management buyout, the company changed its name to The MVA Consultancy. The head office was moved to Woking in 1995 and all support services were located there.
1987 In 1987, we won the London Transportation Studies Contract (LTS) and 10 staff transferred from the former GLTS team. The following year, we got our first Xerox photocopier.
1990 In 1990 we were awarded the Greater London Bus Passenger Survey for the first time, a contract which has been renewed many times, most recently this month for a further four years. SYSTRA manages and processes information from some two million interviews with London bus passengers every year. The data from this crucial survey is used to calculate the reimbursement by the 32 London boroughs to London Transport for carrying each borough’s concessionary travellers. When the research was first undertaken in 1990, there were 5,943 buses – there are now over 9,300.
1992 We undertook the Sao Paulo Integrated Transport Study from 1992 -1993. We used our Strategic and Regional Transport (START) Model, this was the first application outside the UK of the strategic forecasting techniques pioneered by SYSTRA for studies in London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol and Merseyside. In 1993 MVA was bought by SYSTRA, and we opened our French branch in Paris in 1995. Sales topped £20m this year, and in 1996 we launched our first website.
1997 In 1997, the company changed its name to MVA Limited. The same year, SYSTRA Paris began working on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) setting the foundations for the engineering business in the UK. Work continued until 2007 with over 250 SYSTRA staff working on the project over this time. The SYSTRA UK Branch was established in 2010 following the successful bid for Crossrail by SYSTRA SA in 2008. The branch was merged with MVA Consultancy to form SYSTRA Ltd in 2013.
2001 A key project for MVA Limited was the London Congestion Charging Programme which was introduced in 1993. In the summer of 2001, Transport for London (TfL) commissioned SYSTRA to specify the system that would be used for monitoring the effects of the scheme on a before-and-after and ongoing basis. Following on from that work, TfL commissioned us in October 2001 to implement the monitoring system.
2006 We re-branded as MVA Consultancy in 2006 and celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2008. Over the last ten years, we have been involved in many more projects, far too many to mention all, but a small selection includes: 2014-15: The Airports Commission Consultation where we were required to understand the objectives of their consultation and the analytical requirements the Commission wanted us to fulfil. This allowed us to develop both a refined methodological approach and a comprehensive resource plan, because timescale for delivery emerged as a critical issue given the high public profile of the work. We prepared a final report for the Commission which informed their reporting to the Government on the shortlisted options.
2009 TO DATE 2009 to date: South Hampshire Modelling - Transport for South Hampshire (TfSH) needed an evidence base for testing the impacts of land-use and transport policies and strategies. SYSTRA developed and applied a Sub-Regional Transport Model Suite to forecast travel demand over time in response to transport improvements, interventions and changes. The model suite consisted of a Road Traffic Model, a Public Transport Model and a Demand Model, including a Park&Ride Model. A Gateway Demand Model dealt with air, sea and ferry port travel. A Local Economic Impact Model was developed to model changes in employment, accessibility and development. Model outputs were expanded to include environmental assessments as well as forecasts of health benefits from use of active modes. West of Scotland Conurbation Public Transport Study - SYSTRA undertook a comprehensive baselining exercise to form a pre-appraisal report that began the process of identifying transport options. Stakeholders were involved through workshop sessions and a wide-ranging analysis of all transport modes. Modelling tools assessed potential use and estimated the likely switch from private car to more sustainable modes. The strategic plan was presented in a suite of documents which included a detailed appraisal and a non-technical report ensuring that the requirement to communicate effectively to all stakeholders and decision-makers was met 2017 - Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach - SYSTRA produced a Transport Assessment for the scheme which looked at the impact of the proposals on the surrounding highway network taking account of seasonal variation and cross visitation of the various land uses. The assessment also compared the impact of the scheme against a previous consent for an alternative leisure development at the site. In 2014 we were awarded the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Project (EGIP), this gave us a much needed conventional rail reference in the UK and set a precedent for collaboration with our colleagues in the Poland Technical Production Centre.
2012 In 2012, SYSTRA Group strengthened its brand by re branding subsidiary companies to use the SYSTRA name and logo. We had a transitional logo to ease this process.
2015-2017 Colleagues from JMP joined us in 2015 and SIAS in 2016, doubling the size of the company. In 2017, our relationship with Poland was strengthened and extended to India, Korea and the technical team in Paris, when we were awarded the HS2 Main Works Civils design with Mott MacDonald, supporting BBV on packages N1 and N2. This is our largest project win yet and will be transformational for the company driving growth and boosting our revenue.
With many more opportunities on the horizon, this is a very exciting time to be working for SYSTRA Ltd, as we begin to make our history for the next ten years and beyond!
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SYSTRA Ltd Registered office: 3rd Floor 5 Old Bailey, London, England, EC4M 7BA. Registered Number 3383212
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