|Complex decision-making responsibilities
Traditionally, transport and land use decisions have been
made solely by elected politicians, advised by expert professionals.
Life is now much more complicated. Very few cities are “islands”,
so policies are influenced by neighbouring towns and cities,
as well as by regional, national and European policy. Fewer
policy decisions can now be taken solely by government. The
private sector and agencies are increasingly responsible for
public transport, road construction and land use decisions.
Increasingly, too, those affected as users, businesses and
residents expect to be fully involved in decision-making.
Complex interactions and multiple objectives
Decisions on specific policies can often appear deceptively
simple. A new light rail line, for example, seems a good idea
because it provides faster public transport, attracts people
out of cars, and hence enhances the environment. But will
other drivers simply use the resulting road space? Will light
rail encourage longer distance commuting? Is it the best solution
for the poorest residents? And is it the most cost-effective
way of improving conditions? Urban land use and transport
are a complex system, and the knock-on effects of any one
decision may be difficult to predict and sometimes counter-intuitive.
Increasingly, too, cities are concerned with the wider impacts
of transport on other social issues, such as health, education
and social inclusion. What is best will depend very much on
the emphasis which a city gives to reducing congestion, improving
the environment, stimulating healthier lifestyles, strengthening
the economy and protecting those who are disadvantaged.
A wide range of options
Fortunately, we now have available a much wider range of
possible policy interventions, including land use, information
technology, management and pricing to add to the conventional
provision of new infrastructure. However this, too, brings
its challenges. We know much less about the potential of some
of these newer instruments, or how well they work in different
situations. Increasingly, too, the best solution will be a
package of measures, and we need to understand how best to
design such integrated approaches.
See Policy Instruments and
Barriers to progress
A further challenge is the range of obstacles which limit
a city’s ability to implement these individual policy
instruments. Such barriers include the complex institutional
structures mentioned above, but also legal restrictions on
the use of certain measures, financial restrictions on the
overall budget or the ways in which it can be spent, political
and public opposition to certain types of policy instrument,
and practical limitations on physical and technological changes.
Failure to adopt a logical process for strategy development
can also impose a barrier to effective planning. We hope that
this Guidebook will help cities to avoid this.
See Barriers to Implementation.