Over recent years, transport has been characterised by a growing dependence on roads and cars. It has become apparent that car dependency must be curbed, in order to tackle congestion and reduce environmental problems such as climate change. As they form the basic infrastructure, physical transport measures (such as parking management, bus priority schemes and restriction of road space for private cars) are of fundamental importance in a successful strategy. However, little systematic work has previously been done to advise cities on the demonstrated performance of the various options.
The aim of CAPTURE was to collate and evaluate data on the effectiveness of physical transport measures designed to restrict or encourage the use of different modes.
Based on the evidence of demonstrations of packages of measures in 11 cities, the project has published detailed findings on the performance and impacts of different measures. Major elements of these packages included bus lanes, public transport prioritisation, improvements to junctions and interchanges, area access restrictions and controls on central area parking.
The project found that physical measures do not in themselves have a major short-term impact on modal split, unless they are large in scale. Nevertheless, CAPTURE identified positive effects on the performance of public transport (such as lower journey times and better timekeeping). This means that the smaller schemes may encourage a change in behaviour when people periodically re-assess their travel decisions - either due to changing circumstances (such as a job or house move) or due to other policy changes (such as pricing measures).
Physical measures are not easy to introduce. In the CAPTURE cities, the most common barriers were conflicts of interest between the institutions involved, a lack of funds, diversion of attention to alternative schemes, and opposition from affected stakeholders. Small-scale, low-visibility cheap solutions were found to be the most readily implemented. However, these run the risk of failing to achieve large-scale change, unless introduced as part of an overall vision and strategy.
Measures that reduce traffic levels in areas of cities are difficult to implement, but are effective when carried through. However, there are no 'off-the-shelf' solutions for cities to apply. For example, bus lanes have had good success in some cities and little in others. Changes must be planned individually, taking into account local conditions, the ease of implementation and user reactions. City size is not a major factor in determining the most appropriate measures, but city type (historic versus modern) may be significant.
CAPTURE concluded that modal change requires a package of measures in a well thought-out strategy. Physical measures are important because they affect the capacity and efficiency of public transport. This is an essential precursor for a change in travel behaviour, whatever the levers (pricing, green commuter plans etc.) used to induce that change.
Experience suggests that only two or three institutions need to be involved in the implementation process for serious conflict to arise. This worrying conclusion highlights the importance of building consensus and commitment throughout the process.
If area-wide changes are targeted, the following recommendations can be made:
- Carry out public consultation and, preferably, public participation in the scheme design.
- Note that physical restrictive measures are probably more acceptable than road pricing measures.
- In cities where such changes have not previously been attempted, start small or experimentally in order to build up public support.
For national and European levels, CAPTURE concluded that:
- A national or regional body needs to assess local plans with respect to their overall impact on longer-term policy goals (including broader issues such as reducing social exclusion).
- Good practice examples need widespread dissemination, particularly to counter popular perceptions about the effects of access restrictions and pedestrianisation on city centre trade.
- Telematics measures can generally be implemented without delay, but the benefits are often greater to private motorists than to public transport passengers.