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Valuing the small: countingthe benefits

Goodwin, P; (2004) Valuing the small: countingthe benefits. UCL (University College London), Centre for Transport Studies, UCL (University College London): London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper contains part of a reportcommissioned by a consortium oforganisations concerned with thesuccessful development of sustainabletransport strategies, and drafted byProfessor Phil Goodwin of UCL. It followsa report, Less Traffic Where People Live,which, using case studies of experiencehere and elsewhere in Europe hasdemonstrated that small-scale, or ?softfactors? can be effective in tacklingtransport problems, especially when usedin combination. Such examples includebus priority schemes, measures forimproving walking and cycling, trafficcalming, car clubs, school and workplacetravel plans, and the use of personalisedadvice and information to assist people inreducing the congestion and pollution theycause. The DfT?s report Smarter Choices ?Changing the Way we Travel, has alsohighlighted the significant potential whichexists to reduce traffic and congestion,providing soft factors are accompanied bysupporting measures to manage demand.The DfT has established a unit dedicatedto developing experience on soft factors,including on appraisal. Coupled with therecent report, there is a gainingmomentum behind expanding the role ofsoft factors in transport policy. These areall initiatives which are supported bynational and local government, and onwhich the sponsoring organisations havein recent years become active advisers aswell as campaigners.Taken together, such relatively cheap andpotentially popular initiatives are not onlypowerful contributions to theGovernment?s transport strategy: they arealso the leading examples of initiativeswhich can produce improvements swiftly? an important consideration both forpolitical reasons, and also in order toproduce the momentum and consensusfor longer term initiatives.This attractive combination of relativecheapness, environmental advantage,demonstrated successes in good practice,and speed of delivery would ? one mightthink ? lead to such policies being very highprofile indeed. However, this is not alwaysthe case. The problem this report addressesis reflected in recurrent concerns that themerits of such initiatives are overshadowedby the bigger, longer-term, much moreambitious ? and often much morecontroversial ??big? policies: especiallymassive rail or road infrastructure projects.In some ways it is natural that the ?big?initiatives should receive more attentionthan the ?small?, especially in view of along period of inadequate or distortedinvestment. But taken too far, this can becounter-productive. The question thisreport addresses is whether there is somesystematic reason, deep in the appraisaland forecasting methods, which preventsperfectly good initiatives receiving theattention and funding they deserve. Thesuggestion is that there are indeed someimportant biases of this kind, and thatsorting them out will have very helpfuleffects in avoiding wasted opportunitiesand accelerating delivery.This report addresses the followingquestions and is intended to be a helpfulcontribution to this area of work:> what are the barriers that prevent thesmall, good value-for-money schemesbeing taken up with greaterenthusiasm than the big, poor valuefor-money projects?> are there ways of restoring a balancedimplementation process?It is obvious that such barriers will includepolitical and ideological considerations,and the role of vested interests, but theyare not the focus of this report. Rather,the concern is that there may beweaknesses in the process of appraisaland assessment, preceding anyimplementation, which produce a biasagainst the small schemes. This processis intended to resolve practical questionsof design, economic questions of value formoney, planning questions of consistency,and the relationship between short andlong term objectives: it depends on a setof formal procedures and practices ?surveys, models, forecasts, appraisalframeworks ? built up over many years,and originating in the economic costbenefitanalyses whose principles andbasic features were established in the1960s and 1970s.The suggestion is made that there aresome in-built biases in current appraisaltechniques ? developed, as they were, ina different time and for a different agenda? which discriminate against some of thebest measures, and for some of the leasteffective.

Type: Report
Title: Valuing the small: countingthe benefits
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Additional information: Imported via OAI, 7:29:01 3rd Nov 2005
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1263
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