Helen Bowkett

Profile of visiting professor Helen Bowkett.

Visiting Professor

Department of Geography and Environmental Management

About me

Helen has worked in consultancy, local and central government for over 30 years, preparing patronage forecasts and business cases for transport schemes. She led the project team at Kent County Council which appraised transport strategies to support the redevelopment of Kent Thameside.

This work resulted in the construction of the Fastrack bus rapid transit system. Other projects include the new railway station at Mitcham Eastfields, the extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Bank, the refurbishment of the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels and numerous cycle lanes and pedestrian improvements funded through the Community Infrastructure Fund, the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and the DfT Major Projects process.

More recently, she was a member of the Government Economic Service and Head of Transport Evidence at the Welsh Government with responsibility for the transport modelling, economics and appraisal of the Welsh Government’s major transport schemes. She authored a major update to the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG 2017), placing a greater emphasis on the social and cultural impacts of proposed transport interventions and bringing the appraisal process into alignment with the Five Cases Business Model.

Helen undertook her PhD research at the Centre for Transport and Society, where she investigated alternative methodologies for modelling travellers’ choices. She built a dynamic agent-based model of commuters’ mode choice decisions. This approach makes it possible to model the heterogeneity in their preferences and personal circumstances, as well as the influence of habits on travel choices. The model reproduces the time lag between the implementation of changes in the transport system and the final impact on car and passenger numbers.

Her career highlight to date was appearing before the CrossRail Parliamentary select committee and persuading them to amend the CrossRail Bill to incorporate a station at Woolwich. After a recent site visit she remarked that she had never felt so excited at seeing a large hole in the ground.

Helen is a strong advocate of lifelong education. She is a Transport Planning Professional. Since finishing her first degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Jesus College Oxford she has studied for a MSc in Transport at Imperial College and University College London (university prize awarded), a MBA by distance learning from Durham University (distinction), a MA in Applied Social Research (distinction) at the University of the West of England and completed her PhD.

Areas of expertise

Her areas of expertise include:

  • transport planning for major developments
  • transport modelling methods and application
  • business case development.


Bowkett, H., Chatterjee, K. and Parkhurst, G. (2015) Incorporating habits into an agent based model of commuting mode choice. 4th Symposium of the European Association for Research in Transportation, Copenhagen.

Bowkett, H. (2015) Bringing smarter choices into multi-modal modelling. PhD, University of the West of England.