How can cities formulate a vision?
Whether they have a visionary leader or not, many cities
develop a statement of vision as a basis for developing their
strategies for transport and other sectors. As with other
elements of strategy development, these vision statements
are likely to be more acceptable, and effective, if they are
generated in partnership with the city’s stakeholders.
The box (right) shows the vision for London. These vision
statements may well not mention transport at all, but instead
focus on aspirations such as economic competitiveness and
opportunities for all. The key will be to determine how a
transport strategy can contribute to such a vision. The answers
to this question may well help in specifying the objectives
of the transport strategy.
Why do we need to specify objectives?
In developing a land use and transport strategy, it is essential
to be clear what the strategy is designed to achieve. Objectives
are broad statements of the improvements which a city is seeking
in its land use and transport system. They are thus the starting
point for our logical structure (Section
6). They serve several functions (see box).
Objectives specify the directions for improvement, but not
the means of achieving them. In setting objectives, it is
therefore important to avoid including indications of preferred
solutions (e.g. ‘improving the environment through better
public transport’); this may cause other and better
policy instruments to be overlooked.
How should objectives be determined?
It is important that decision-makers determine the objectives
which they wish to pursue. However, it is preferable to reach
agreement on them with other stakeholders; this is often a
key first stage in participation (Section
5). In some countries, local objectives are specified
by national government; even so, cities should check whether
these represent the full range of their aims. In practice
many cities adopt rather similar objectives, and we set out
below the ones which we have identified. For many cities,
these objectives all contribute to a higher level goal of
What do we mean by sustainability?
There is ample evidence that European city transport systems
are unsustainable, in terms of their growing levels of congestion,
pollution, fuel consumption and accidents, the adverse effects
on the economy, and the increasing polarisation of opportunities
to travel. Sustainable development was defined by the Brundtland
Commission as development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs. Most cities transport systems would
fail this test.
In 2001 the EU Transport Council adopted the definition of
sustainable urban transport shown in the box.
Which objectives are relevant to the pursuit of sustainability?
This definition of sustainability provides a basis for identifying
eight more specific objectives, all of which should contribute
Much economic analysis is concerned with defining “efficient”
allocations of scarce resources. Economic efficiency is achieved
when it is impossible to make one person or group in society
better off without making another group worse off. In such
a situation, it is impossible to find any measures for which
– if they were undertaken – the gainers would
be able to compensate the losers and still be better off themselves.
In other words, seeking economic efficiency means taking all
measures for which the “willingness to pay” of
the beneficiaries exceeds the “required compensation”
of the losers. Such a definition, applied to transport, would
involve comparing benefits to travellers such as faster travel
time with disbenefits such as increased noise and pollution.
This would subsume virtually all of the other sub-objectives
In practice, in transport, the efficiency objective is defined
more narrowly. It is concerned primarily with maximising the
net benefits, in resource terms, of the provision of transport.
Efficiency defined in this way is central to the principles
of social cost-benefit analysis, and a higher net present
value from a cost-benefit assessment represents a more efficient
outcome. However, it is based directly on the values which
individuals assign to their journeys, and there has been some
concern recently that the resulting emphasis on increases
in the amount of travel, and in speed of travel, may not be
Protection of the environment
This objective involves reducing a number of adverse impacts
of the transport and land use system: regional pollutants
such as NOX and SO2; local pollutants such as particulates,
and their impacts on health; noise and vibration; visual intrusion;
fragmentation and severance of settlements and biodiversity;
urban sprawl; and loss of cultural heritage and natural habitats.
Liveable streets and neighbourhoods
City life involves more than simply more opportunities for
employment, shopping, leisure and culture. If cities are to
be attractive as places to live, they must compete with smaller
towns and rural areas in being “liveable”. Liveable
streets are characterised by increased freedom of movements
for pedestrians and cyclists, including reduced risk of traffic
accidents and increased opportunities for social, cultural
and recreational activity within an urban neighbourhood. This
objective is focused on streets and outdoor conditions in
residential areas. It includes the positive external effects
on social, cultural and recreational activity in neighbourhoods,
increased freedom of movement on foot and bicycle, and reduced
sense of danger for these modes. It is linked to, but separate
from, the environmental and safety objectives.
This objective straightforwardly involves reducing the numbers
of accidents for all modes, and reducing the severity of those
which occur. However, since some locations, age groups and
modes have higher accident rates than others, the safety objective
also has equity implications.
Pollution, noise and accidents affect health, but so does
the stress of living and working in congested cities. Increasingly
the lack of exercise offered by an increasingly motorised
transport system is being seen as an even greater threat to
health. Once again, these impacts affect some groups in society
more than others.
Equity and social inclusion
Under equity the principal concerns are the need for reasonably
equal opportunities to travel, costs of travel and environmental
and safety impacts of travel. Within social inclusion we include
accessibility for those without a car and accessibility for
those with impaired mobility. True equality of opportunity
will never be feasible, but consideration needs to be given
to compensating those with the fewest opportunities or the
Accessibility can be defined as “ease of reaching”,
and the accessibility objective is concerned with increasing
the ability with which people in different locations, and
with differing availability of transport, can reach different
types of facility. In most cases accessibility is considered
from the point of view of the resident, and assessed for access
to activities such as employment, shopping and leisure. By
considering accessibility separately for those with and without
cars available, or for journeys by car and by public transport,
the shortcomings of the existing transport system can be readily
identified. It is possible also to consider accessibility
from the standpoint of the employer or retail outlet, wanting
to obtain as large a catchment as possible in terms of potential
employees or customers. In either case, access can be measured
simply in terms of the time spent travelling or, using the
concept of generalised cost, in terms of a combination of
time and money costs.
Contribution to economic growth
The economic regeneration objective can be defined in a number
of ways, depending on the needs of the local area. At its
most general it involves reinforcing the land use plans of
the area. If these foresee a growth in industry in the inner
city, new residential areas or a revitalised shopping centre,
then these are the developments which the transport strategy
should be supporting. At its simplest it can do so by providing
the new infrastructure and services required for areas of
new development. But transport can also contribute to the
encouragement of new activity by improving accessibility to
an area, by enhancing its environment and, potentially, by
improving the image of the area. The economic regeneration
objective therefore relates directly to those of accessibility
and environmental protection.
While all of the above objectives are important for today’s
cities, many of them will have implications for future generations
also. But three impacts of today’s activities will particularly
impact on future generations: greenhouse gas emissions, and
particularly CO2, which will affect longer term climate change;
consumption of land; and depletion of non-renewable resources,
of which oil is perhaps the most important.
Why is it important to decide which objectives are
Usually it is not possible to satisfy all of the objectives
which may be desirable, as some of them will conflict; for
example it is often difficult to improve accessibility without
intruding into the environment. Therefore it is helpful to
be able to trade off performance against different objectives,
so that these conflicts can be more easily resolved. Priorities
between objectives are a matter for political judgement which
is exercised by the decision-maker, but other stakeholders’
views can be judged as part of an effective participation
campaign (Section 5).
Why is it helpful to specify indicators?
Objectives are abstract concepts, and it is thus difficult
to measure performance against them. Indicators are ways of
quantifying objectives or sub-objectives. For example, casualty
numbers would measure the overall safety objective; locations
exceeding a pollution threshold a part of the environmental
objective. This type of indicator is often called an outcome
indicator (see box), in that it measures part of the outcome
of a strategy. It is also possible to define input indicators,
which measure expenditure and resources provided for transport,
output indicators which measure what has been done (e.g. length
of bus lanes implemented) and intermediate outcome indicators,
which describe how the transport system is responding (e.g.
number of bus users). Of these, outcome indicators are the
most informative, since they measure directly performance
against the specified objectives. However, output and intermediate
outcome indicators may be helpful in understanding how a change
in performance has been obtained. To be effective, outcome
indicators must be exhaustive, in that they cover the whole
range of objectives, provide sufficient information to decision-makers,
and be sensitive to changes in the strategies that are tested.
The PROPOLIS project used a number of indicators to measure
performance of the strategies which it tested against a range
of objectives, which in turn reflected the economic, environmental
and social aspects of sustainability (see PROPOLIS table below).
It used no input indicators (although cost of the strategy
tested was included in the economic indicators), and no output
indicators, but focused specifically on outcome indicators
which covered all its key objectives, and intermediate outcome
indicators, such as trip-km and modal shares, which helped
explain the changes which were taking place.
|Types of indicator
• Input indicators: expenditure, resources consumed
• Output indicators: actions taken
outcome indicators: changes in travel patterns
Outcome indicators: impacts on the strategy objectives
PROPOLIS Indicator System
||Global climate change
||Greenhouse gases from transport.
||Acidifying gases from transport.
Volatile organic compounds from transport.
|Consumption of natural resources
||Consumption of mineral oil products,
Need for additional new construction.
||Fragmentation of open space.
Quality of open space.
||Exposure to PM from transport in the
Exposure to NO2 from transport in the living environment.
Exposure to traffic noise.
||Justice of distribution of economic benefits.
Justice of exposure to PM.
Justice of exposure to NO2.
Justice of exposure to noise.
Vitality of city centre.
Vitality of surrounding region.
Productivity gain from land use.
|Accessibility and traffic
||Total time spent in traffic.
Level of service of public transport and slow modes.
Accessibility to city centre.
Accessibility to services.
Accessibility to open space.
||Total net benefit from transport
||Transport investment costs.
Transport user benefits.
Transport operator benefits.
Government benefits from transport.
Transport external accident costs.
Transport external emissions costs.
Transport external greenhouse gases costs.
Transport external noise costs.
Why is it useful to
specify performance targets?
Objectives and indicators generally indicate the desired
general direction of change; for example: to reduce the environmental
nuisance caused by traffic. They may also be couched in more
specific terms which include the notion of a target, for example:
• To reduce traffic noise to below 68dB(A) in residential
• To reduce nitrogen dioxide levels to below 60mg/m3
There are advantages in this kind of more specific target.
It is clear when any one objective has been achieved and the
degree of achievement can be measured by the extent to which
conditions differ from the target. It is also possible to
specify targets for both output and intermediate outcome indicators;
for example a target for the number of bus lanes or for the
number of bus users. These can also help in measuring progress,
but are a less direct indication of performance against objectives.
Several governments are now linking finance for transport
strategies to the achievement of targets, and this is an approach
recommended by DGEnv for use in the preparation of Sustainable
Urban Transport Plans. Such links make it essential that targets
are set for the right indicators, and at appropriate and consistent
levels. The DGEnv report makes a number of recommendations
for the selection of targets (see box), and advocates selecting
both a few high level ones for use by citizens and a wider
set of operational ones.
What are the potential risks in setting performance
If targets are only set for some objectives, this may result
in less emphasis on the other objectives. Conversely, setting
performance targets for all objectives can give a misleading
indication of their relative importance. Using the example
in the previous paragraph, the two objectives imply that a
noise level of 68dB(A) and a nitrogen dioxide level of 60mg/m3
are equally important.
Targets for output and intermediate outcome indicators present
further problems. The level of intervention specified by an
output target may not be required in order to meet the underlying
objectives, and a given target reduction in car use may be
excessive. It is therefore better to set targets for outcome
indicators, and determine any output or intermediate outcome
targets to be consistent with them.
How might performance targets be set?
It is difficult, therefore, to specify targets which are
appropriate and internally consistent. Where some targets
are imposed nationally, it can be even more difficult to specify
ones for other objectives which are consistent. However, targets
are a very effective way of encouraging action and monitoring
performance. It may be best, therefore, to determine the overall
strategy (Section 11), and
then calculate the targets for the horizon year (Section
3) for all outcome indicators, and selected intermediate
outcome indicators which are consistent with that strategy.
These can then be used to monitor performance.