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Latest issues under discussion amongst transport professionals

Triple Access Planning is a useful concept – but have the practicalities been fully thought through?

Recognition that transport provision is just one part of achieving spatial connectivity and user accessibility is a welcome step says David Metz. But he feels that the formalised concept of Triple Access Planning is an idealised approach to embracing this truism, and the realities of specific geographic transport challenges, available practical options, and public and political behavioural expectations mean the theory will be hard to deploy successfully.

Road pricing is coming – but what form will it take?

The Treasury anticipates a shortfall of around £28bn in revenues from fuel duty in the shift to electric vehicles. Transport leaders should look at not only how road pricing can address this deficit, but how to maximise the opportunities it creates: sustained infrastructure condition, a smoother experience for road users, and improved journey time reliability, writes Richard Sallnow

Who should design and deliver a national road pricing scheme?

Introduction of a new framework for road user charging seems inevitable, given the decline in existing fuel duty revenue and the need to send appropriate signals about the best use of highway capacity and environmental objectives for transport. Though the topic has seemed subject to a pre Election political taboo, there needs to be serious preparatory discussion about the practicalities, believes Richard Sallnow. In this second part of his look at the topic he considers who would be best placed to design, implement and operate a national scheme

Plus ça Change…

THE MESSAGE we are all hearing from the General Election campaign - at least from everyone but the current Government- is that it is time for a change. What isn’t clear, however, is how that change will play out in the real world, and especially in the world of transport, and what it will mean for the activity of those involved at the front line in planning and delivering transport systems and services.

Spending wish list for transport set to meet harsh post-election financial realities

The Transport ‘in tray’ facing the likely new Chancellor Rachel Reeves after the Election, will be overshadowed by the realities of harsh economics, and the pressure on public finances says David Leeder. He takes a hard look at the economic and budgetary context, and how it will impact local transport, bus and rail policy, and funding, and suggests ten approaches which might help provide new solutions.

London mayor has a big target for cutting carbon emissions - he needs big ideas to achieve it. Here are five to start with

Newly re-elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set an ambitious 2030 net zero target for the capital, but how will he achieve it? Mark Frost suggests that better bus priority in partnership with boroughs, a far-reaching travel behaviour change programme, strategic kerbside management and measures to cut freight emissions are all key measures he should pursue.

Should we really be expecting anything much better for transport policy from the next Government?

Many TAPAS readers will be hoping for a new Government which will address the underfunding of local transport, unlock genuine devolution of responsibility, and get behind radical, climate-focussed policies designed to promote modal shift and reduce the need to travel. So, how likely is all this, asks Jonathan Bray, as he reflects on the policy pledges so far

Happy 10th birthday to the ‘Mini Holland’ poster child, and may there be many more happy returns

It’s been 10 years since Waltham Forest secured £27m funding from the London Mayor to create a ‘Mini Holland’. The far-reaching success of the programme illustrates the importance of genuine leadership, holding your nerve in the face of adversity, and understanding what the majority thinks, not just what the minority shout, says John Dales

Transport investment appraisal - What are we really trying to measure?

Measurement of inputs and outputs from transport investment has been refined over the 50 years or so since the concept of cost-benefit analysis was first applied in the sector. But David Metz believes that the underpinning conceptual thinking has not been re-examined sufficiently to reflect new objectives, priorities and public spending choices, with debate restricted to detail within a narrow group of professionals. The fresh thinking of the Welsh Government to embrace wider issues is welcome, but still leaves unresolved issues, he argues.

Latest London travel data drills down into changing daily patterns of bus and rail use

Post-pandemic travel behaviour changes have brought a number of challenges for transport authorities and operators, with both revenue implications and service planning issues to address. Tracking data has been emerging only patchily, so John Siraut has been pleased to examine the comprehensive information now available from Transport for London on key trends.

The deep flaws in how we model freight

The treatment of freight movements is an area of serious weakness in transport planning, writes Professor Phil Goodwin. The assumptions being made are not underpinned by adequate understanding, suffer from a lack of suitable data analysis, and embed misrepresentation of commercial and economic realities. All this seems highly likely to be leading to inappropriate decision-making. An in-depth review is needed, he argues.

Asking the experts

IN WHAT COULD BE SEEN as a positive step for enriching the breadth and depth of the specialist knowledge available to government, the Department for Transport has identified 45 experts to join a new advisory panel. But perhaps more interesting is how it will use them.

There certainly seems to be an ever-expanding list of available expertise being focussed on the transport field - perhaps indicating the importance and complex multi-faceted nature of current challenges.

Constant re-examination of policy and practice to address emerging new circumstances and challenges seems essential.

Where is MaaS going? Its complicated…

Mobility as a Service has been an idea that’s time has supposedly come for a decade or more. However it’s not hit the mainstream, and one of the companies that has led the way in developing the concept has just gone bust. Is it being stopped from taking off? Will it ever deliver the benefits for easy- to- use multi modal travel that its advocates believe are possible? The authors of a new book on MaaS, Beate Kubitz and James Gleave, outline the current state of play, and the prospects.

Housing Development and Highways - will we ever break the link?

Why does new housebuilding still so often mean major new highway investment asks Colin Black? Predict and Provide may be disavowed now, but the old paradigms of Transport Impact Assessment live on in both the types of housing provision proposed, and the accessibility arrangements supposedly essential to go with it. Can local planning and transport authorities themselves specify approaches that break the link - or is something much more definitive needed at national policy level he wonders. And might a new Government potentially have the motivation needed to deliver it?

Sidewalk stories from the Big Apple. What makes a city special - and worth fighting for

Looking at other countries, cities and cultures can teach us a lot, and give us a new lens through which to examine how we live and work ourselves, says John Dales. Just back from the USA he reflects on some of the forces that shaped New York, and the dangers of chasing future visions that miss the fundamentals of what really matters.

What is the place for DRT in the wider public transport system?

Each transport mode has operational and economic attributes that define its potential to play a role within the overall mix of options. As technologies and business concepts evolve, the transport options change too. But reality and cost-effectiveness, rather than promotional claims, should define the most appropriate choices in public policy and expenditure on them, argues Professor Peter White. He is concerned in particular about an absence of consistent examination and evaluation about what Demand Responsive Transport can deliver at an acceptable cost.

Triple Access Planning – a diffusing innovation that reflects our new look world

Transport planning must evolve to match the new context of a changing world in which mobility is just one element of how we connect with the things we need and want to have, and to do, says Professor Glenn Lyons. Here he explains the origins and development of the Triple Access Planning idea, and introduces a new Handbook about it with guidance for practitioners about implementing the concept in the context of their professional activities.

Decision time for England’s biggest road project. What are the implications?

The recently completed examination of the revised National Highways proposals for a new downstream crossing of the Thames between Kent and Essex exposed some fundamental issues about how the rationale behind its justification was both presented and tested, believes Phil Goodwin. These are matters of more general significance, he feels, and here he provides an analysis of the case presented, and the wider questions it highlights about major road scheme appraisal and the robustness of the review process, in the first of a two parts TAPAS contribution on the Lower Thames Crossing, and the issues it raises

The Theoretical and Practical Limits to Demand Responsive Transport Services

As someone involved in studying and delivering community transport and dial-a-ride schemes from the 1980s, and more recently a consultant to one of the Rural Mobility Fund DRT projects, John Sutton believes he can offer some perspective and realism to the true prospects for DRT in the passenger transport spectrum. In this contribution he explores the theoretical and practical limits of DRT, and why these realities mean it can only be effective in limited niche markets and special circumstances, even with the deployment of the latest scheduling and communications technology.

Beyond Carrots & Sticks – why it’s time to replace this unhelpful transport policy metaphor

It is said that language can drive us apart, and that’s the case with the concept of deploying carrots and sticks, widely, but mistakenly, adopted by the transport planning and policy fraternity, believes Pete Dyson co-author of ‘Transport for Humans’, doctoral researcher at University of Bath and former behavioural scientist at Department for Transport. He points to its unwanted messaging implications in presenting the case for change to decision-makers and transport users, and proposes there are better ways to discuss travel behaviour change

Rowing Backwards: The New Politics of Decarbonisation

There has been a substantial reaction to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s policy changes to the Government’s approach to achieving Net Zero, most specifically the commitment to end fossil fuel car sales in 2030, extending the deadline to 2035. But he also sought to present a different way of thinking about the broader policies on the trajectory to the 2050 Net Zero deadline. TAPAS asked Professor Greg Marsden to comment on the implications.

The journey to Net Zero: examining the assumptions and expected outcomes from policy aspirations and interventions

The last few months have seen hightened discussion of the contribution of transport to addressing global warming and climate change, and which measures will be the most effective to achieve genuine reductions in carbon emissions and progress towards Net Zero. TAPAS presents here a series of articles exploring the recent political commitments and projections in this field, and their strengths and weaknesses, with potential wider application in transport policy and planning.

Lessons from the Elizabeth Line: what can we learn from the emerging evidence?

An exceptional level of high-quality monitoring has been undertaken by Transport for London as the passenger responses to the opening of the new Elizabeth Line emerge. TAPAS presents here a series of articles exploring the significant behavioural and system development implications, including the elasticities of demand relating to major journey time and service quality changes, with potential wider application in transport policy and planning.

Replacing bus services in low demand areas: Can Demand Responsive Transit (DRT) play a worthwhile and cost-effective role?

With continuing financial pressures on the provision of conventional public transport in rural and low density suburban areas, Demand Responsive Transit systems, providing services by small vehicles running to dynamically determined schedules based on specific customer journey requests, have been advicated as a suitable alternative. Considerable public money has been made available for their intruduction, but how successful have they been, and is this a cost-effective solution? TAPAS presents some contrubutions on this issue, and welcomes further submissions.

Visions require validation: new approaches for deciding and testing which policies will deliver

It has been widely accepted that better approaches are needed to developing and defining local transport strategies beyond the old ‘predict and provide’ thinking. But that will require new frameworks for creating the agreed visions, and ensuring that proposed policy measures are robust and effective, says Professor Peter Jones. Here he explains the concept of ‘vision and validate’ and what it means for the way transport planning practitioners work.

From black and white to shades of grey – the flawed world of expert knowledge dissemination in transport

How should creative thinking and research about the challenges facing transport best be presented, and is the traditional ‘academic publication’ model fit for purpose in the new world of exploding information provision? Professor Phil Goodwin has strong concerns that what has grown up as academic protocol is deeply flawed, and has been marginalising some of the most important content coming from beyond the universities. He’d like to see a better and more accessible framework.

Round Table Discussions

Second successful ‘Transport Thinking Forum’ Round Table event in association with TAPAS tackles ‘changing travel behaviour’

We are very pleased to record our holding of the second successful ‘Transport Thinking Forum’ Round Table event in association with TAPAS, which addressed the theme of achieving behaviour change in transport. You can read several articles on this topic on TAPAS.

First successful ‘Transport Thinking Forum’ Round Table event in association with TAPAS

We are very pleased to record our holding of the first successful ‘Transport Thinking Forum’ Round Table event in association with TAPAS, which addressed the theme of achieving a sustainable future for UK transport.

Featured TAPAS Collection

Road Plan Assessment and Appraisal

With both economic and environmental issues to the fore, TAPAS contributors, Phil Goodwin, Greg Marsden, Derek Halden, David Metz and others explored the basis on which major road investment schemes can be justified or not.

See the articles and join the discussion.

The route to Net Zero: DfT assumptions look well off course

The Welsh Government Roads Review

The 2022 DfT National Road Traffic Projections: unanswered questions and required conversations

More Work is Needed on the Interactions between Appraisal and Investment - and explaining where the costs and benefits go

When the facts change, we should change our thinking – and that’s the case with planning our future transport now

Reviews and Reflections

Reviews and Reflections

Phil Goodwin

Phil Goodwin

Professor Phil Goodwin is Emeritus Professor of Transport Policy, University College London and University of the West of England. He was head of the Transport Studies Unit at Oxford University for 16 years, before moving to UCL in 1996.

50th Anniversary of the Transport Studies Unit, Oxford University: A Memoir

Having been (up to now) TSU’s longest serving Director, I was pleased to open the 50th Anniversary celebrations, with an assessment of its changing role over the years.

The arc of TSU has been an unusual one. The pre-history in the 1950s was intended as a focus for the intellectual activity of the transport industries. The Unit itself started in 1973, with Ian Heggie as Director, as a mostly detached part of the Economics Sub-Faculty, with almost no teaching, entirely self-funding, and research that was a challenge to the prevailing transport orthodoxy of economics-based modelling. When I was Director, it developed a strong research-based influence on policy, mostly in challenging the predominance of ‘predict and provide’ approaches subordinated to car dependence. At the height of this influence, in 1994, we were awarded an exceptional ESRC ‘centre of excellence’ designation, with 10 year funding based on rethinking traffic growth and replacing equilibrium methodologies by dynamic ones: that work was completed not in Oxford, but by the Unit decamping to London.

Arman Farahmand-Razavi

Arman Farahmand-Razavi

Arman Farahmand-Razavi is a transport and planning advisor and a business strategy professional. He is the joint editor of the TAPAS.Network.

This might turn out to be another significant moment

Arman Farahmand-Razavi offers his personal reflections on a forum that embraced the big issues of our time, and how it has reminded him of past gatherings of the sector’s leading thinkers

REFLECTING on the 5th Annual Local Transport Summit in Brentford last month, I felt privileged to be part of a discussion that could come to be seen as a significant moment in the history of professional transport planning in the UK. The significance may not have been the event itself, or any of the individual speakers and their presentations. But after the traumatic experience of the past 18 months it provided a special opportunity to get together physically and to take stock of what had changed in the world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And the world certainly seems to be a different place, needing new approaches to addressing the very real challenges that humanity faces.