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Interview with Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) President Dr. JAEHAK OH - WCTRS Research Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 9, October 2021


Interview with Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) President Dr. JAEHAK OH

The WCTRS Research Newsletter Editorial team took a brief interview of President Mr. JAEHAK OH of Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS).

Below is the full interview with Dr. JAEHAK OH.


1. How do you value EASTS association with WCTRS? With the experience so far, in what way you feel the association is useful?

The Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) is the leading and unique society of transportation studies in Asia. EASTS has vision and activities toward sustainable transportation development and people’s welfare which WCTRS is also aiming for.

EASTS currently consist of 19 countries in the Eastern Asia. It was founded in 1994 under the key objectives of 1) fostering and supporting excellence in transportation research and practice, and 2) stimulating professional exchange in all aspects and modes of transportation.

The primary activity of EASTS is to organize, once every two years, a Conference on Transportation Studies. The 1st conference was held in Manila held in 1995 and the recent 14th conference was held in Hiroshima in September 2021. The 2021 EASTS conference was organized in complete online mode due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The conference was held successfully with 529 submitted papers, 449 presented papers, 64 high ranked papers, 4 plenary sessions, 105 technical sessions and so on. I think EASTS made another historical achievement by organizing an online conference.

Other activities of EASTS include a) Promotion of International Research Activities, b) Publication of Journal and Proceedings, c) Conduct of symposia, seminars and workshops, d) Exchange of knowledge and information, e) Promote excellence in the practice of transportation profession through recognition of outstanding achievements and accomplishment, and f) Pursuit of other activities to attain the objectives of the society.

Considering objectives and activities of EASTS, there are many aspects to corporate between EASTS and WCTRS. It means that there are various common interests and research activities to share with WCTRS. Although EASTS is more deeply focusing on transportation issues in the East Asian countries including oceanic regions, in general, research topics or issues for transportation studies are almost same as WCTRS. Especially, transportation research issues responding to the global megatrends such as climate change crisis, 4th industrial revolution and COVID 19 pandemic are regarded as major topics of the conference and international research activities.

The publication of journal and proceedings is an important function. WCTRS has abundant experiences in publishing high quality journals and conference proceedings. Recently, EASTS is investing a lot of efforts and resources in improving the representative journal of EASTS, Asian Transportation Studies (ATS). WCTRS’s renowned two journals, Transport Policy and Case Studies in Transport Research, are good benchmarking journals from which ATS should learn.

In addition, one of the important activities of EASTS is trying to promote excellence in the practice of transportation profession through recognition of outstanding achievements and accomplishment. EASTS thinks that the contribution of the society to the benefit of practice profession is an important element as academic researches are closely related with various impacts of policies and technologies in practice.

2. What is your vision on transport research and practice post COVID-19? How can it address the challenges faced by transportation sector during and post-COVID-19?

The COVID 19 pandemic made a great deal of impacts to transportation sector and the future of transportation will face various changes and challenges in travel demand, operation and investment.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, public transport industry and aviation industry have been hard-hit due to social distancing and lockdowns. Ridership and revenue of transportation industry have greatly decreased. COVID 19 pandemic brought various impacts to transportation industries as follows:

•         Due to social distancing and fear over infection risks, people have a tendency to avoid using public transport system. As a result, ridership and revenue of public transport decreased and it would be a major threat to transport industries to deal with in the future.

•         Apart from shared transport, the use of personal mobility such as bicycle, segway and electric kick scooter is rising. This leads to the fundamental change of infrastructure design and allocation of road space.

•         COVID 19 greatly changed economy, urban structure and travel patterns. The phenomenon of online shopping, working from home and moving houses to sub-urban area has led to changes of travel demand pattern quantitatively and qualitatively.

The future of transport service responding to COVID19 pandemic is going to be upgraded towards more human-centred. Human-centred transport means more individual customized mobility service, especially for elderly, avoiding health risks, promoting reduction of carbon emissions, and improving transport safety level.

Regarding the change in urban logistics, online logistic demand will continue to increase, and automation and smart logistics will be accelerated. At the same time, social security promotion of logistic workers will appear to be an important social issue to be resolved.

3. What is the action plan of EASTS in addressing some of these challenges?

In the Board Meeting during the 2021 conference in Hiroshima, EASTS has discussed about the future action plan to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic threats to transportation. EASTS made it clear that the society will play a big role and provide a platform to prepare for transforming transportation in the coming decade 2021-2030.

EASTS needs to extend research interests and topics beyond the conventional transportation planning and engineering research. For example, next conferences will include new research or session topics as follows:

•         Human-centered infrastructure planning and operation

•         Pandemic infection sensitives of public transportation service

•         Changes of travel behaviour in the future

•         Transportation impacts of climate change and carbon neutral

•         Policy and technology development of autonomous vehicles

•         Policies and operation responding to increasing online economy

•         Utilization of location based and mobility bigdata service

The bigdata from transportation policy implementation and operation of transportation modes becomes more important for the successful policy making and technology development. Because of advancement of the 4th industrial revolution technologies, transportation system is more connected and generate various data on movement of people and goods. These bigdata will allow us to adopt new approach in transportation planning and operation in order to improve efficiency and better service. The role of the society would be anticipated to share various bigdata among member countries through workshops or regional seminars. An analysis of mobile data and location-based mobility data should be an important research topic to members of EASTS and WCTRS.

4. Kindly brief us about EASTS and its portfolio of activities being done, and how they can be beneficial to WCTRS members?

In the last 25 years, EASTS has greatly grown up and expanded as the unique and leading transportation academic society in Asia. EASTS is established with a special focus on establishing domestic societies and promoting roles and activities of domestic societies. Since its foundation of EASTS in 1994, a major effort has been put to organize, maintain, and expand the research activities of domestic societies. As a result, starting with 13 domestic societies in 1994, it has been gathering 19 domestic societies in East Asian region. At the same time, the membership of EASTS has increased to around 1,700 and the number of papers presented in the conference has grown up to 529 in 2021.

I believe that the transportation research activities and information generated from EASTS will be beneficial to the WCTRS members in understanding the evolution of transportation policy and technology development in Asia as well utilizing EASTS as a platform for exchanging transportation research and information specialized in Asian countries. The Asian region is the most rapidly growing continent in terms of economic growth and transportation development. There should be a lot of research opportunities for transportation policy, technology innovations and implementations in practice. There might be many opportunities to learn from each other. Especially, the member countries in EASTS appear to be leading countries to adopt and implement new IC technologies for better transportation efficiency and services.

5. What do you think could be ways by which EASTS and WCTRS can collaborate and contribute to Sustainable Development and higher Quality of Life (QoL)?

I believe that there are a lot of ways to collaborate between EASTS and WCTRS for sustainable development and higher quality of life. First of all, responding to climate change crisis and COVID 19 pandemic, two societies have common interests and potentials to support new policy and technology. And we can share success and failure experiences to deal with the aforementioned issues. For example, two societies need to collaborate to support transportation measures and technology innovations toward carbon neutral and global pandemic responding.

Second, transportation measures to be implemented should be based on qualitative and quantitative analysis. Sometimes the results of impact analysis might be different from country to country. It might be necessary to organize workshops to prepare a guideline on how to implement transportation measures without confusion.

Third, the conference of EASTS and WCTRS must be a very important platform to share research ideas and implementation experiences. It would be a desirable to exchange the conference program and also to organize EASTS-WCTRS joint sessions on common topics.

Fourth, the journals are also important to the society members. To improve the quality of journals in terms of high-quality papers and impact factors increase, it might be useful to share information of journal publication and submission of papers to the members of both societies. This corporation in journal publication will naturally lead to the improvement and benefit of both EASTS’ journal ATS and WCTRS’ journal Transport Policy.

Finally, the most important role of EASTS and WCTRS is to educate and train human resources. In the next decade 2021 to 2030, transportation will go through a great transformation. Transportation will be automated, decarbonized, shared and integrated at a high speed. Transportation urgently needs better educated and trained human resources who work for future innovation and challenges.

Dr. JAEHAK OH, President of EASTS