Nova Bus’ Anne-Louise Chauvette has had a long association with Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT) and its Co-Founder Alessandra Gorini. During the same period, Y4PT has made impressive strides towards promoting sustainable mobility.
"I was infected by Alessandra’s ideas," recounts Anne-Louise Chauvette, Public Affairs Advisor, Nova Bus. It was in 2007 that she met with Alessandra Gorini, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Y4PT. At that juncture, Anne-Louise was pursuing a Master’s program in Urban Studies. And, the UITP-promoted Y4PT was still in its infancy. But, Alessandra’s idea of an international youth-led pro-sustainable-mobility non-profit NGO, instinctively appealed to Anne-Louise. "Quality Public Transport can make cities liveable." In Anne-Louise, Alessandra saw a "heart and mind person who could take Y4PT places." Both were happy to their paths cross again in Milan during the latest UITP Congress.
Y4PT was created in 2005. Alessandra a trained biologist had a natural interest in a fostering green and sustainable mobility. Meeting Anne-Louise was part of Alessandra’s journey to enlist and engage with promising youth across the globe to promote the cause. A number of interesting initiatives resulted from these interactions. Around the time that Alessandra and Anne-Louise met, the first Youth Parliament took off in South Africa. The parliament was a novelty in more ways than one. The "youth" were actually 13-16 year olds. They presented a pretty voluminous report on "how to improve public transport in Johannesburg."
Not too long thereafter, youth parliaments took shape in India and Canada. The idea spread. Currently there are about 22 Y4PT youth parliaments across the globe. Alongside Youth Parliaments, Youth Laboratories – or "hackathons" - started to take shape too. "Basically, we put people in a room. The cross fertilization of ideas results in breakthrough concepts." One such concept is a Smart Card which through a tracking mechanism ensures the safety and security of passengers. Encouragingly, the Smart Card has moved towards implementation after being adapted by Germany’s Railways Authority, the Deutsche Bahn. Another card, the GECO, allows users to accumulate green points each time they use a bicycle or buy organic produce.
Every couple of years, the Y4PT invites entries for the Youth Awards Series. Y4PT’s 5,000-odd members submit entries based on work done around a pre-selected theme. This year, the focus is on healthy mobility. "Walking and cycling are beneficial for health as much as the environment," observes Alessandra.
Alongside these big ticket initiatives, Y4PT regularly conducts awareness and educational campaigns, be it through traditional media channels or the occasional flash mob. "We have had a flash mob of 3,000 in Brazil," recalls Alessandra.
With so much happening, Anne-Louise had been enjoying her association with Y4PT. Simultaneously, she was converting her passion for sustainable PT into her profession. For starters, she chose to specialize in public transport policies as part of her Masters program. Anne-Louise’s education prepared her for a career that would involve extensive co-ordination with influential public transport policy makers. After completing her Masters, she began working for the Finance minister of Canada’s Quebec province. In succession, she led the “Cross-Border (Canada-United States) municipal coalition on rail safety” as she was a policy advisor at Union des municipalités du Québec (mayors association).
A year ago, Anne-Louise assumed her role at Nova Bus. Her work experience proved invaluable given the prominent role that Nova Bus plays in Canada’s PT system. While working for the Volvo Group, Anne-Louise continues to be connected with the larger public transport ecosystem. Her strong background in transport led to an invitation to the US under the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The IVLP is a professional exchange program funded by the US government to offer current and emerging international leaders the opportunity to experience the richness and diversity of American political, economic, social and cultural life through carefully designed exchanges that reflect participants’ professional interests and the public diplomacy objectives of the US government.
As a young leader in public transport, she had the opportunity to visit five cities where she met with leaders of port, rail and bus-based PT systems. "The US IVLP program gave me the opportunity to strengthen my understanding of numerous challenges in the transport industry."
Needless to state, Anne-Louise still part of Y4PT’s international network and recently had the chance to meet again with Alessandra as a mentor for the new members. ‘We are happy to have Anne-Louise working in the industry and be involved with Y4PT. We would love to have on board other young visionary PT leaders from Volvo Buses,’ says Alessandra.
While further ways of association and ideas take shape, Anne-Louise and Alessandra are already preparing for the next UITP World Summit. ‘It happens to be in my city Montreal. "I look forward to hosting Y4PT," beams Anne-Louise.
Photo: Alessandra Gorini and Anne-Louise Chauvette.