Ir Francis Sootoo, Vice President of Consulting of SYSTRA in Asia and Board Director of SYSTRA MVA

Francis is Vice President of Consulting of SYSTRA in Asia, a leading engineering and consulting group that specialises in public transport and mobility solutions, as well as Board Director of SYSTRA MVA, a transport planning and traffic engineering specialist consultancy in Asia. He has nearly 40 years of wide-ranging experience in traffic engineering, transport planning and project management of large-scale government and private sectors projects in Hong Kong, the Mainland China and overseas. He has been involved in a diverse portfolio of projects that have lasted for a few years to a few decades, including transport land use catchment accessibility, future mobility and connectivity studies; sustainable and urban transport master planning studies; transit-oriented development (TOD) studies; and transport network design.

What are some of SYSTRA MVA’s landmark projects in Hong Kong in recent years?

WKT is the centrepiece of a transport hub designed for the High-Speed Rail and served with the airport railway, metro and road-based transport set in a continuous traffic-free pedestrian zone extending 80 hectares into West Kowloon. Completed in 2018, it aims to enhance Hong Kong’s role as the southern gateway to the Mainland China and a super-connector to the Greater Bay Area.

Aerial view of West Kowloon Terminus; all images by SYSTRA MVA Hong Kong Limited

As transport planning is a crucial element in the sustainable development of the built environment, is there any design approach in Hong Kong that other cities can refer to?
Hong Kong has a world-renowned and well-established robust TOD framework system. All railway stations are built and ready for service before topside developments are even planned. And when a topside development commences, the operation of public transport—particularly the railway service, if any—will not be affected. WKT is a classic and successful example of TOD in Hong Kong and to the world.

A topside residential development is integrated with Austin Station in West Kowloon

What are the considerations of future transport planning in the digital age?
All future plans must take the behaviour, needs and expectations of next generation into consideration. When technology advancement, digital transformation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the recently developed chatbot tools are widely adopted and accepted, we need to adjust the existing ways of planning and designing to integrate traditional studies with these new trends to fulfil the demand of both current and future generations.

This is an excerpt. The original article is published in
Construction+ Q2 2023 Issue: Infrastructure & Transport.
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