Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why is there a need for transport planning?

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Transport Planning Notes

Why is there any need for transport planning? The simplistic answers

Everyone has or wants a car, so new roads must be built

If only public transport were better, I would use it

Order custom research paper on Why is there a need for transport planning?

If freight were made to use rail, motorway congestion could be solved

But, simplistic answers are

not environmentally feasible, and/or

cost too much, and/or

not politically feasible, and/or

unpredictable in their consequences

If the simplistic answers are wrong, what are the right questions?


What sort of cities do we want to live in?

What could go wrong if we simply allow the trend towards sole reliance upon car travel to continue?

What sort of cities do we want to live in?

Any consensus view would be too general to help in making plans

Someone, or some political agency, would have to play at god

Ideas as to what was desirable would change as ‘progress’ was made Planned utopias often disappoint e.g.New Towns

What could go wrong if we simply allow the trend towards sole reliance upon car travel to continue?

Possibly a better question

It is easier to gain some consensus about future problems than about some planned utopia.

So what are the consequences of this trend, and why is it so hard to escape from them?

Rising car ownership

An apparently irresistible trend, worldwide.

If you have a car, you want to use it; if you do not own one, you want one!

Rising car use inevitably fosters as a consequence dispersal

Factors favouring dispersal

1. Industry & office employment

Push factors congestion and shortage of land in long established centres.

Pull factors Greater land availability on peripheral sites. Locational ties reduced by area wide availability of power grids and information networks

proximity to workforce and to markets no longer crucial.

Factors favouring dispersal

. Housing

Motive Newer housing on greenfield sites is more attractive than inner city areas, environmentally and socially.

Opportunity Rising income and car ownership.

Factors favouring dispersal

. Economies of scale

Concentration of retailing into larger out of centre units. Lower costs to retailer, even if travel costs to customers higher.

Concentration of schools, hospitals etc into larger units on basis of specialist facilities

Future further dispersal?

e-mail, video conferencing may have some impact.

Counter-trends A new equilibrium as peripheral congestion gets as bad as central area congestion.

Inner city living could become more fashionable e.g.docklands.

BUT traditional outward factors still operate

Why is it so hard to escape from the trend towards dispersal?

If a new road is built to solve a specific environmental problem, it will create spare road capacity.

That spare capacity will be seen as an opportunity for more travel, rather than as a saving of journey time, as

people behave as though they have a travel time budget.

Is dispersal a bad thing?

Not necessarily, but there are potential problems, which transport planners should consider e.g

1. The decline or death of the traditional city and town centre

. Dispersal is bad for the provision of any form of public transport, especially fixed track.

Decentralisation increases dependence upon the car, to the disadvantage of non-car owners. The challenge to planners is to redress this imbalance by providing multi-modal access to -decentralised functions

The role of central areas in the past

Crucial practically and politically.

Any society needed a focal point for the exchange of goods, services and information

The development of job specialisation and trade depended upon access

The role of central areas in the future

Arguably little practical need.

Exchange of services and information can be achieved through the invisible city of telecommunications and the media

BUT face to face communication does provide an alternative, not subject to control by e.g. media tycoons, and

Capital cities worldwide seem to have undiminished importance

The role of central areas in the future provincial cities

The central areas of all U.K provincial cities have declining employment and retailing

This is a response to the lack of change in road and public transport provision

Are major new shopping centres evolving into the town centres of the future?

Superstores are providing more diverse services

The role of central areas in the future historic town centres

These still provide living and shopping facilities within walking distance

Redevelopment to accommodate the car will be limited.

The advantages of attractive environment may ensure their survival,

and become the preferred residence of those unwilling or unable to use cars for all movement

People adversely affected by decline in public transport

The non car owning population is diminishing BUT

The young below car driving age are restricted in mobility, or reliant upon parents.

The elderly. Renewal of driving licences after the age of 70 dependent upon health.

Indirect adverse effects of dispersal

Centralisation of facilities implies more lengthy travel to local facilities e.g. shop, pub, library.

If necessary journeys are longer, the alternative modes of walking or cycling become less feasible

Local facilities such as shops are in decline because of competition from superstores enjoying economies of scale

Equity of dispersal.

The declining number of families without a car are put at a disadvantage by dispersal as

It is harder to get to more remote shops on deteriorating public transport

Prices are higher in local shops that remain.

i.e dispersal makes the poor poorer.

Possible responses to potential problems of city centre decline and of dispersal

1. Spend to a solution.

. Legislate to restrict land use changes

. Cope with uncertainty about the future with flexible plans.

1. Spend to a solution.

It’s been tried!

But 1. miles of new road in Docklands cost £00 million,

the extension of one underground line, the Jubilee, cost £ billion

. Legislate to restrict land use changes

Planning Policy Guidance Note 1

This is an advice note first issued in 14 by John Gummer, then Secretary of State for the Environment, advising local planning authorities on what development proposals to approve.


1. Development that tends to attract journeys should be located where it is readily accessible by a choice of methods.

Shops, offices and entertainment facilities should be located together, so that one journey can serve several purposes, and public transport may be available.


. Housing development needs to be accessible to public transport, so that there is an alternative to the car.



1. Is this policy switch too late? So much out-of-town retailing has already been permitted.

. Policy relies upon improved public transport and this is now provided in an unplanned way by the private sector.

. Cope with uncertainty about the future with flexible plans.

Traditionally, a flexible transport plan was one that provided generous but vague reservations for new road space.

This caused blight.

Flexibility ought to mean the retention of alternative ways of reaching destinations


The alternative modes available are car, bus, cycling, walking and in limited cases rail.

The type of land use best able of offer flexibility (i.e a choice of modes of access) is one in which most urban services are local.

Such a land use pattern is best able to cope with inevitable uncertainties about the future.

Elements of practical transport planning

Some road building

Some investment in public transport

Some restrictions, possibly by pricing roadspace

Some land use regulation, subject to developer and political acceptability

What the policy mix implies

In effect, the division of the country into

areas where car-based mobility is paramount,

i.e. a land of ring roads, business parks and superstores, and

areas (isolated islands?) where public transport, access on foot, and environmental considerations take priority.

If the policy mix is wrong...

And that will be England gone,

The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,

The guildhalls, the carved choirs.

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