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Guide to Calculating Mobility Management Benefits Victoria Transport Policy Institute

3. Sustainable Travel Towns (Sloman, et al., 2010) Darlington, Peterborough and Worcester are typical medium-sized English towns. Following a competition, they were designated Sustainable Travel Towns, and so were able to invest £15 million in measures to reduce car use from 2004 to 2009. Baseline surveys in 2004 showed strong public support for more sustainable transport policies. Each town developed its own programme, including personal travel plans, walking and cycling promotion, public transport marketing, plus workplace and school travel plans.

Detailed travel surveys were performed in 2004 and 2008 and compared with data from comparable size towns from the National Travel Survey (NTS) and traffic counts from the National Road Traffic Estimates (NRTE). The analyses gave the following results:

  • Car use: Car driver trips declined 9% per person, and car driver distance by 5%~7% for the three towns. This compares with a decline of about 1% in other medium-sized urban areas over the same period.

  • Bus use: Bus trips per person grew substantially, by 10%~22%, compared with a national fall of 0.5% in medium-sized towns. The bus growth primarily occurred in Peterborough and Worcester, with a less positive trend in Darlington (in part due to the nature of competition between two operators in that town).

  • Cycling: The number of cycle trips per person grew substantially in all three towns, by 26%~30%. Darlington (which was also a Cycling Demonstration Town) showed the greatest growth. Meanwhile, cycle trips declined in medium-sized towns elsewhere.

  • Walking: The number of walking trips per person grew substantially, by 10%~13%, compared to a national decline in similar towns.

  • While the reduction in the number of car trips per person was proportionately greatest for short trips, the biggest reduction in car distance travelled (hence traffic) was from medium- length and longer trips.

  • There were indications of complex behaviour change, involving transfers between modes, changes of destinations and changes in trip numbers, not all of which can be fully analysed with the available data.

  • The biggest reduction in car driver distance came from changes to leisure trips, then shopping and work-related business. This pattern was consistent with the relatively low emphasis on work-trips in the interventions chosen.

  • The biggest falls in car driver mode share appear to have been among groups either at a point of change in their lives (at college, looking for work, or recently retired) or on a reduced income. There was a smaller per head reduction in car trips by those in full-time work, though this still constituted 40% of the total reduction.

Programme costs averaged £11 annually per person, or 4 pence per car kilometre reduced. Considering just congestion reduction benefits, this indicates a 4.5 benefit/cost ratio. Including environmental, consumer-benefit and health effects using Department for Transport values would approximately double this benefit value. This provides sufficient evidence to justify substantial expansion of Smarter Choice Programmes.


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