Decision Makers' Guidebook
What is a strategy?
A land use and transport strategy consists of a combination of instruments of the kinds outlined in Section 9. More importantly, it involves the selection of an integrated package of instruments which reinforce one another in meeting the objectives (Section 7) and in overcoming barriers (Section 10).
What do we mean by an integrated approach?
Many policy documents advocate an integrated approach, but integration can be thought of at five different levels:
- Operational integration of different services, fares structures and information, usually in public transport
- Strategic integration between instruments affecting different modes and between those involving infrastructure, management, information and pricing
- Policy integration between transport and land use
- Policy integration between transport and land use on the one hand and other policy areas such as health, education and society
- Organisational integration of government bodies and agencies with different responsibilities for transport.
Though, as PROPOLIS has demonstrated, all of these are important, we are concerned in this guidebook largely with the second and third of these levels. The fourth and fifth are mentioned briefly in Sections 2 and 10, and relate to what DGEnv refer to as horizontal, vertical and spatial integration.
How can integration achieve greater benefits?
As noted above, integration at the strategic level can potentially achieve benefits both by using instruments (Section 9) which reinforce one another, and by overcoming the barriers to implementation (Section 10). Among the barriers, it will be difficult, through the instruments themselves, to overcome either legislative and institutional or technical barriers. However, both financial and political barriers can be reduced by careful choice of combinations of instruments. All of the objectives can in principle be achieved more effectively by using pairs of instruments which intensify each other’s impacts on demand. One difficulty, however, is that individual instruments can have adverse impacts on certain groups of users. A careful choice of other instruments can help compensate the losers.
For all of these reasons, a package of instruments is likely to be more effective than selecting any one instrument on its own. In these ways, synergy, or at least complementarity, can be achieved between instruments; that is, the overall benefits are greater than, or at least equal to, the sum of the parts. The identification of instruments which might achieve such synergy or complementarity is at the core of successful transport planning.
The combination of light rail and road pricing illustrates all of these; road pricing encourages greater use of light rail and generates revenue to pay for the light rail infrastructure. Conversely the use of revenue to invest in light rail makes road pricing more acceptable and provides an alternative for those no longer able to drive.
Instruments which reinforce the benefits of one another to achieve synergy or complementarity
Obvious examples are the provision of park and ride to increase rail or bus patronage; the use of traffic calming to reinforce the benefits of building a bypass; the provision of public transport, or a fares reduction, to intensify the impact of traffic restraint; and the encouragement of new developments in conjunction with rail investment.
Instruments which overcome financial barriers
Parking charges, a fares increase or road pricing revenue may all be seen as ways of providing finance for new infrastructure.
Instruments which overcome political barriers
Enhanced service levels or provision of new facilities may well help to make demand management more acceptable; so, in a different way, can attitudinal measures.
Instruments which compensate losers
The selection of these depends on the side effects which arise from other elements of the package. For example, road pricing could lead to extra traffic outside the charged area, which could be controlled by traffic management measures, and could adversely affect poorer residents, who could be assisted by concessionary fares.
The diagram shows, in matrix form, instruments which are particularly likely to complement one another in one of these ways. Those in the rows support those in the columns in the ways shown. This table is intended to be used as a broad design guide only.
Why is it important to commit to the whole strategy?
The sequence in which instruments are to be implemented is at least as important as the overall strategy. Clearly those which need to be implemented to facilitate others are required first. It will also be essential at least to be committed to those instruments which generate income before investing in those which depend on that revenue for finance. Commitments are needed to publicly attractive instruments before embarking on those which on their own are less attractive. However, there is always the risk that the less attractive instruments will still not be implemented, for fear of public criticism. It is preferable if both positive and negative instruments are implemented together. Whichever sequence is adopted, it will be essential to implement all the measures in the strategy if it is to be fully effective.
What are the key elements of a strategy?
There are four key elements to any transport strategy as shown in the box. None of these is an objective in its own right, but between them they will help to achieve all of the objectives.
Some success can usually be achieved with the last two of these alone. However, if car use is not reduced, the opportunities for improving the road network will be severely limited, and hence so will the ability to improve bus-based public transport. Moreover, if the growth in need to travel is not curtailed, improvements achieved in the short term will soon be lost. The strategy should thus contain instruments to address all four of these elements, and a key element of an integrated strategy is the determination of the way in which these elements are integrated, and the balance between them determined.
PROPOLIS provides a clear specification of the policy instruments which are likely to be most effective in making cities more sustainable:
- Improvements to public transport, through faster, more reliable services and lower fares
- Charges for car use, through road pricing or higher parking charges
- Land use plans which reinforce these two measures.
Conversely, the provision of new infrastructure may be less cost-effective, and needs to be designed carefully to be consistent with these three key policy instruments. A recent UK study has confirmed these findings.
What other issues need to be considered?
Once this highest level strategy is clear, it will be possible to address other issues. In particular, this second stage can establish the strategy for the second stage issues in the box.
These issues are no less important, but their treatment will not significantly influence the balance to be sought between the four key elements. For example, the ability to improve freight access will be determined primarily by the extent to which car use can be curtailed and the road system's performance improved. Within that context steps can be taken to allocate more strategic road space to commercial vehicles, and to control their use in sensitive areas. This in turn will improve the performance of the overall strategy, but it will not affect significantly the overall balance to be struck between restraint and network enhancement. City Freight provides helpful guidance on the development of freight management strategies within this context. Equally, while walking and cycling are important modes, there is little evidence that steps to improve them will encourage much transfer from car use, and hence reduce the need to control it. Velo Info and PROMPT provide guidance on strategies for these two modes.
How do the individual types of policy instrument contribute to the overall strategy?
Each type of policy instrument (Section 9) contributes to one or more of the key strategy elements, as shown in the diagram. Land use measures contribute most to reducing the overall need to travel, but pricing measures are the most effective way of reducing the level of car use. Management instruments offer the most cost-effective way of improving public transport and road network performance, but infrastructure, information provision and pricing policies all have an important role to play. This table reinforces the message that there is no one solution to transport problems; an effective strategy will typically involve measures from many of these types of policy instrument.
How should the strategy reflect future uncertainties?
As noted in Section 3, it is appropriate to develop strategies for a 15 to 20 year period, but one disadvantage of this is that the context becomes less certain. The principal uncertainties typically relate to changes in economic and demographic factors, which are largely external to the transport system. The best approach, therefore, is to develop a number of scenarios, which reflect a range of levels of factors such as economic growth, changes in population and household size, and income and car ownership. While these can result in a large number of different combinations, they can often be grouped into three or four which reflect combinations which place more, or fewer, demands on the transport system. Each strategy can be tested against the different scenarios, with the best being that which is the most robust. The principles for doing this are outlined further in Section 13, and described more fully in the Methodological Guidebook. One limitation of this approach is that the scenarios are not wholly external; transport strategies can influence both economic activity and car ownership, and land use strategies will have an even greater effect. Ideally a land use—transport interaction model (Section 12) would reflect these effects.
Which factors particularly influence future scenarios?
Six European cities were asked to identify the principal variables which would influence trends in transport and land use demand over the next decade or more. These are listed, with the numbers identifying each, below.
- Population growth (4)
- Economic growth (4)
- Changes in work location (3)
- Changes in car ownership (2)
- Changes in surface coverage of city (2)
- Changes in urban sprawl (2)
- Changes in employment (2)
European cities’ views were sought on the importance of the first five in the list above, and their responses are given below. Over 80% identify economic growth and changes in employment location as important or very important, and 70% population growth and size of the urban area. The lowest score was for car ownership, which only 60% considered important. Smaller cities placed less emphasis on employment and car ownership than medium and large cities. Medium cities place greater emphasis on population growth, and large cities greater emphasis on economic growth. There were few differences in emphasis on size of the urban area.