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Filling the gaps.

Online TDM Encyclopedia Victoria Transport Policy Institute Available free at the VTPI website--

Transport systems in the UK are facing severe problems of congestion and pollution. For the few that still deny the existence of such a problem the 1999/2001 National Travel Survey is instructive. Compared with data complied a decade ago, the average distance travelled increased by 5 per cent and average journey length increased by 13 per cent; and there was a 5 per cent reduction in UK households with no access to cars and only 20 per cent of people lived in households without a car. Car was the dominant mode of transport for trips over a mile and accounted for four-fifths of total distance travelled. Distance travelled by car increased by 11 per cent, and 60 per cent of cars had only one occupant.

The dramatic increase of road traffic has put pressure on the Government to find solutions. But while many promising new demand management policies--such as road and parking pricing, car sharing, traffic calming, and teleworking--are available and are even tested around the world, their application in the UK has been hesitant. As with all policies, success depends on effective implementation process, with barriers ranging from institutional and political to social and behavioural.

However, the move from a demand-responsive 'predict and provide' transport policy to that of 'predict and prevent' transport demand management (TDM) has resulted in the use of urban transport instruments that involve a complicated set of institutions, processes and procedures. Demand management policies involve a larger and more complex system.

The result of this is particularly evident in more radical demand management measures (such as congestion charging, workplace parking fees, and high-occupancy vehicle lanes), which so often get bogged down amid controversy, disagreements, unanticipated problems, and a whole host of delaying factors. If they ever get implemented, they tend to be watered-down and consequently rarely effective. If one has doubts on the difficulties of implementing such a strategy, one only has to look at any daily newspapers and see the amount of type devoted to transport issues. The lack of a number of examples (especially successful ones) of TDM implementation in the UK makes it even more difficult to properly study the policies when implemented and the barriers such a process involves.

A useful international source for finding out about TDM strategies in detail, and ways around problems usually involved with their implementation, is Victoria Transport Policy Institute's Online TDM Encyclopedia. VTPI's Encyclopedia is a unique resource designed to help transport professionals identify, plan, evaluate, and implement TDM programmes. A wealth of resources from Canadian and US experiences provide a basis for learning, comparing, and identifying an easier way for introducing these relatively new concepts for the majority of UK 'transporters'.

The Encyclopedia has detailed information on more than three-dozen TDM strategies, plus information on TDM planning, evaluation, and implementation. It contains more than 100 chapters, hundreds of pages of text, and thousands of hyperlinks to provide instant access to references and resources. Since it was first created in 2000, the Encyclopedia has been expanded and updated to more than three times its original size, and it continues to grow.

Each strategy is introduced in a standardised format with a detailed description, how it is implemented, the impacts it has on travel once it is up and running, and the costs of implementation compared with the longer-term benefits. Examples of applications are provided in every case, giving the opportunity to study whether one of the strategies detailed would be beneficial in a similar situation faced elsewhere. There are many case studies of best practice that can offer valuable lessons.

Potential relationships with other TDM strategies are also included; in some cases a series of measures is considered to have a higher probability of success than a singular approach.

All of the methods are accompanied by a wealth of references and resources for more information. It seems that no strategy or section of planning polities is considered complete at any one stage. Instead, they are constantly renewed and amended, and chapters are added and updated regularly. The Encyclopedia also includes information on various issues related to transportation planning and evaluation. The standard format adopted for all the documents makes things simple and helps in rapid reading and information retrieval. A typical structure includes:

* an introduction or description of the policy or other transport planning option (usually short and concise);

* how the policy is usually implemented (responsible actors are listed and the prerequisites of the policy are specified);

* the policy's impacts on travel;

* a section describing the benefits of such an implementation (in most cases this is where the costs are summarised as well);

* who implements the policies and for what reasons (explained in relation to applications);

* the relationship with other strategies (a good place to look for cross-referenced cases);

* best practice examples, providing guidelines and successful project links;

* detailed case studies and examples, offering a chance to assess and evaluate the strategies when implemented in real projects; and

* follow-up references and resources.

On first visiting the site there is the feeling of it being written by an enthusiast, rather than by an independent academic, but this in no way invalidates the information contained. The site resembles a library resource, with an extremely wide taxonomy of documents relating to the TDM strategies. The only problem arising from this is that searching can be at times difficult because of the huge amount of information listed. However, the documents are well indexed and cross-referenced. A search function will soon be included on the website, which will not only search for policies, but will also automatically identify and rank strategies according to their ability to achieve a particular set of objectives or by suitability for a particular geographic or institutional application.

There is clearly a need for a better understanding of modern TDM policies and VTPI's Online TDM Encyclopedia can provide an easy way to establish a relationship between the concepts and identify possible solutions. It can help overcome hesitation from some, and opposition from others, and can increase one's debating skills through the absorption of information and examples.

Petros Ieromonachou is a research student in the Centre for Technology Strategy at The Open University in Milton Keynes.
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Author:Ieromonachou, Petros
Publication:Town and Country Planning
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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