Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Steer Davies Gleave (TYP 36)



  The 10 Year Transport Plan (10YP), published in July 2000, set out an ambitious programme of investment. Yet three incidents, and their ramifications, have made the 10YP targets appear unachievable: the fuel tax protests, the Hatfield rail crash and putting Railtrack into administration. As a result of these events, not only is it unlikely that the fuel-price escalator will be re-introduced but the planned rail improvements will now take much longer to secure.

  If the aspirations of the 10YP are to be secured, other policies need to be adopted and there is a growing recognition that interventions to secure behavioural change will be vital. Enabling people to contemplate and effect different travel habits might help to control the forecast growth in car use over the next decade and perhaps reduce it.

  Behavioural change methods are needed to complement the 10YP—to encourage public transport use, increase the proportion of trips made by walking and cycling etc. Many methods have been adopted, albeit on a relatively small scale to date.

  Could these methods actually help in traffic growth control if employed on a national basis, or even in achieving demand reduction? As yet we do not know, but it is already clear they can bring social, environmental and economic improvements.

  This submission puts forward suggestions as to how behavioural change measures might usefully be employed in the context of implementing the 10YP. In that this is a relatively new area of policy there is only a limited amount of empirical evidence of the effects of the different interventions. Indeed there are some ideas in this paper that have not, as far as we are aware, ever been put forward before.

  The key issues to be explored include:

    —  How behaviour change could help address current and future transport problems.

    —  How behaviour change may be enabled.

    —  The nature and scope of interventions to bring behaviour change about.

    —  Temporal considerations—changing behaviour takes time—the planning period is 10 years—how should a strategy reflect this.

    —  Practical issues such as funding and organisation associated with the strategy.


The nature of the problem

  There are many different problems that the 10YP aims to address but fundamentally they focus on the fact that too many motorised vehicles are in use on the roads at the same time—such that congestion results. Not only is this an inefficient way to proceed but the situation is getting worse. Only part of the population currently owns or has access to a car yet a significant proportion aspires to ownership or access. Once a car is available to people their mobility increases significantly. If the costs of car ownership and use continue to decline in real terms, then traffic will continue to increase.

  Hence the problem faced is both financial and social in nature. Politicians face several important questions:

Should we accept the nature of the problem and the inevitably of it worsening?

  If we accept that the problem exists then the likelihood is that where there is spare capacity today congestion will get worse—ie in the off peak periods and the less busy areas of the network. Congestion and delay and lack of capacity will prevent it getting much worse at the busier times and in the busier parts of the area.

  The justification for action (as opposed to acceptance of the problem) is that to allow congestion to determine the availability of travel opportunities would be an abrogation of responsibility by transport planners and politicians. Surely this cannot be allowed to happen—the corollary is that we must therefore either build more capacity into our transport system or manage demand to prevent congestion.

What are the other possible solutions?

  Should we try to invest in sufficient capacity (across the whole of the transport system—not just in roads and motorways but also trains, coaches and buses etc) to meet existing and forecast demand everywhere and at all times or should we seek to manage demand in some way?

  Traditionally we have said yes to the former approach—that we would build new infrastructure and manage existing facilities more effectively. We are busy investing hugely in public transport systems at present, trying to catch up on a lack of investment of the last several decades. But is this sufficient—can we build our way out of the problem? The answer seems likely to be no.

  Increasingly, experts doubt the benefits of capacity enhancement: the consequences of such developments are deemed too severe or damaging to contemplate, or the changes cost too much, either in financial or environmental terms. More and more we are looking to demand management as an alternative—preferring to contemplate living within our means, trying to secure sustainable solutions.

What are the social impacts of the problem if we try to resolve it through demand management measures, given that it exists and we must deal with it?

  Car ownership is closely correlated with age, and wealth. Similarly there is a close correlation between the availability of a car and the number and length of trips made. Those people outside the owning/availability of car for use categories are more likely to be those who are older and or poorer than those within.

  Demand management policies are often characterised as "stick" or push measures—they aim to bring about a condition in which less traffic demand occurs such that more efficient operation of the road network results. There are several means of intervention traditionally employed:

    —  Economic intervention through charging eg workplace or road user/congestion charging;

    —  Road space re-allocation—rationalising road space use eg bus/cycle lanes and gates, access only for different classes of vehicles etc;

    —  Management of traffic over wider areas—through signing strategies, dynamic signing, speed management etc.

  So, if we are to address the problem through managing the allocation of scarce resources (use of the roads), are we merely to use the price mechanism—ie if you can afford to pay increased charges then you can use the roads—surely not? Such action appears inequitable—this is why the matter is so politically sensitive. Charging will indeed force behavioural change but at what cost in social terms.

  It is desirable therefore to find more acceptable ways of encouraging behavioural change. Such ways should accommodate car ownership (assuming it can be garaged or parked satisfactorily when not in use), but seek to influence vehicle use. They might also include extensive improvements to alternative forms of travel including public transport, car clubs, walking and cycling etc as outlined in the 10YP.

Does the problem take on a new guise if we accept that in some circumstance it will be necessary to manage demand and that charging must not be the only form of rationing use?

  If the above arguments are accepted then there is a social equity issue to be considered. We need to find alternative ways to reduce traffic demand by means other than simply charging or preventing use of road-space.

  Demand management can also come about by persuasion—rather than the "stick". Work with employer travel plans, specific marketing campaigns and neighbourhood educational exercises already proves that people are willing to change their current travel behaviour given good reason to do so. The evidence suggests that people do not realise the true cost of ownership and use of private cars and that the alternatives can become more attractive to them, even if only for some trips, not only for reasons of saving cost but also, often for social and health reasons too.

  We therefore need to find reasons for people with cars to reduce their use (and perhaps increase their use of alternative modes as desired by the 10YP): we need to influence people's travel behaviour, or to encourage behavioural change. In this way road-space would be freed up for other use, such as freight.


  Promoting behavioural change requires "interventions". These include measures/projects that force change, for example congestion charging, car parking controls, ramp metering as well as measures that simply encourage behavioural change such as safer routes to school projects, travel plans etc.

  Behavioural change interventions do not need to be compulsory or forced; ie participation in a workplace travel plan is usually voluntary. In developing a behavioural change strategy we need to concentrate on transferring messages. We know that people are prepared to change their travel behaviour under certain conditions:

  When they understand HOW they can change:

    —  When they have real choice.

    —  When they have knowledge to exercise that choice.

  When they realise they GAIN personal benefits from change:

    —  Time, or money, or health.

  The messages therefore need to concentrate on providing people with information about how they can change, and secondly illustrating the benefits that the change will bring to them. The most effective way of transferring messages (as in any advertising campaign) is to identify the target groups for each message. A behavioural change strategy is necessary to support the opportunities afforded by the 10YP that focuses on selected groups.


  One of the most effective ways of targeting groups for travel behavioural change s to identify key "life stages" when people are forced to make a new decision about how they will travel to a certain destination. Examples of these life stages are:

    (1)  Beginning secondary school;

    (2)  Transferring to Sixth Form/FE college or Higher education;

    (3)  Starting a first job;

    (4)  Moving home;

    (5)  Transferring to a new job or to a new worksite during your working life; and

    (6)  Children—whether being born into the family or leaving home.

  For each of these groups we need to consider the measures that we should employ to change behaviour for that target group, and the process by which we would ensure the message was translated. The 10 Year Plan, being a 10 year strategy, affords us the opportunity to influence the behaviour of core target groups in the early years, which could have the effect of targeting much of the population over 20 years.

Life State 1: Beginning at Secondary School

  For a long time it has been recognised that if we can raise awareness and change the behaviour of children, then in the future they will travel in a more sustainable way. The journey to secondary school is for many students the first trip they will make alone, and importantly at an age when parents will allow them to travel independently.


    —  Introduce a school curriculum unit that specifically aims to raise awareness and change behaviour: for all students in their first year of secondary school.

    —  Research likely mode of travel to school prior to students starting at the school. Provide public transport information to all those not eligible for free travel (increasing numbers are in this group).

    —  Safer Routes to School: ensure all schools receive safe routes treatments.

  In the first year of the 10YP all students aged 11 should participate in this. At the end of the plan they will be 20, and each child aged 11 during the 10 years could have participated.

Life State 2: Transferring to Sixth Form/FE College or Higher Education

  The next key life stage is the transfer to college. It is a key time for when young people purchase their first car. The strategy should aim to work with young people, mainly aged 16-19, who are making this decision whilst they are still in their final year of secondary education.


    —  Project to highlight the costs of running a car: to be incorporated in sixth form studies across all relevant education establishments.

    —  Higher education establishments to introduce a limit or ban on students bringing a car to college/university.

Life Stage 3: Starting a first job

  Travel habits are most often formed from routine. It is far more difficult to ask a car driver to consider switching to public transport (or another alternative) for a journey they currently undertake, than to ask someone who does not yet make that journey to consider alternatives.


    —  Workplaces to have an effective Travel Plan (the results of which should be monitored externally)—to incorporate an induction process where new staff learn the alternative modes available to travel to the site.

    —  Personalised Journey Planners for new staff to provide the necessary details (eg timetables, fares, routes) for them to comfortably try a mode other than car.

    —  Tele-working options for new employees so that they do not necessarily have to travel into work each day of the week.

Life Stage 4: Moving Home

  Moving home is the key time when people review all of their current travel arrangements. Moving house is often associated with a new school, a new workplace, a new supermarket etc. For example, people are able to make decisions not just about how to get to the supermarket, but which one they should go to.


    —  Travel Blending, a process designed to enable individuals and households to review their travel needs and receive customised suggestions for change, to be offered to all new home owners/tenants.

    —  Green Prescriptions: local GPs to be asked to provide all new patients with a Green Prescription, advising them on the activities, including walking and cycling, that they can undertake to help stay healthy (and which have transport benefits).

    —  Local Travel Information Booklets (products/services/activities): to be distributed by estate agents to all people viewing property. Booklets would need to be updated regularly and could also be available through key centres in the study area, for example libraries, or the Internet.

Life Stage 5: Transferring to a new job or new place of work during working life

  When people move to a new workplace they should again be targeted to consider reviewing their travel needs, including whether it is appropriate for them to move closer to work.


    —  Travel Plans.

    —  Personalised Journey Planners.

    —  Tele-working.

    —  Recruitment policy.

    —  Relocation allowances policy.

Life Stage 6: Children (whether being born into the family or leaving home)

  Children affect the travel activity of the household. People will often have to review their transport options available when a child is born. Similarly when children are old enough to drive, do we consider buying an additional car for their use (or help them with the purchase), and when they leave home, do we still need two cars or can we downsize to one?


    —  Green Prescriptions.

    —  Awareness campaigns.

  These life stages, and the assignment of different projects, include a number of behavioural change interventions that involve encouragement. It does not include those that are forced or require changes to infrastructure that will of course affect all users of the facility. Such measures include: car parking controls; congestion charging; ramp metering; inter-urban tolling; variable speed limits; and high occupancy vehicle lanes.


  The use of life stages allows a strategy to be developed to supplement the 10 Year Plan that centres on targeting people but there are several other issues to be taken into account. The use of a targeted approach is important. It is possible to put forward initiatives that could be relevant to the whole population but this risks a lack of focus and a waste of resources. It is important to target any behavioural change initiative on those areas most likely to be effective.

  Temporal considerations are also important. It was only at the end of the 80's that we began to see health and quality of life issues emerging as desirable objectives. What will be the prevailing view by 2011 or even 2021?

  Behavioural change initiatives should be designed so that they supplement the 10 Year Plan. Subsequently other interventions could be proposed allowing longer lead times for behaviour change initiatives to be planned and carried out in sympathy with and beyond the 10 Year Plan delivery timescales.


  Many behavioural change initiatives are only in their infancy—experience will bring more opportunities and the environment for encouraging behaviour change will also improve with time, as the change itself becomes more commonly accepted. In order to deliver the measures and projects that will facilitate change, we need a process for delivering each of the measures and projects to support the 10 Year Plan—a behavioural change strategy. It is important to remember that the 10 Year Plan is a 10-year strategy and that encouraging behavioural change must be an important part of delivering the plan.

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