INNOVATION AND good engineering application was the essence of the fourth annual Local Associations' Transportation Seminar held at the Institution on 11 March.
In the run up to the government's White Paper on integrated transport policy, the Institution's local associations and transport groups demonstrated the will to get on with it.
Twelve excellent presentations from around the UK illustrated different approaches to transport integration and sustainable development to suit specific local and regional situations. While there was no common formula for the transport problem, there were many initiatives and good practice projects deserving a wider audience.
Professor Phil Goodwin, from University College London, stressed the need to use existing road space more effectively. He argued the case for bus lanes, restricting traffic from certain routes and more pedestrianisation. Such plans are frequently accompanied by predictions of traffic chaos. However, using the results from studies of 50 locations across the world, he demonstrated that these measures are effective in managing traffic flow. People, it would appear, are far more adaptable than we might expect.
David Tweedale from Hertfordshire explained the importance of the Travel Wise campaign, now spreading across the UK. The 10 year programme progressed by first raising public awareness, in order to generate acceptance for change, with the ultimate objective of changing behaviour. Initial approaches used video, posters; employee workshops, exhibitions, internet and national curriculum challenges. Subsequent specific initiatives included:
bus, bike, walk to school projects
business travel wise
car sharing data base
Now that people are thinking travel wise, the aim is to target groups at school and employers.
Justin Cooper from South Wales challenged the perception that raising car costs would have dramatic consequences for rural areas. He stressed that additional finance was the key element of future transport integration and that most would agree that such finance should be ring-fenced for public transport provision.
Other innovative transport action schemes around the UK included: transport strategy and action plans for Luton, Weymouth, Leeds and Edinburgh; integrated transport for the rural areas of Glasgow/ West of Scotland and Devon County Council; integrated transport applications in Northumberland County Council, South Wales, Northern Ireland, the South Pennine transport study, Kent County Council (Ebbsfleet); transportation math- ematical models for the Greater Manchester area and strategic environmental assessments for the transPennine corridor.
The exciting guided bus operation in Leeds epitomised the seminar participants' enthusiasm for innovative solutions. A partnership agreement of a blank sheet of paper has led to this development, which at £4,000 per bus, is relatively cheap. Dr Bob Tebb said light transit is more sexy, but the down-market image of the bus can be improved substantially and buses are much cheaper and more flexible in operation.
Terry Pasley, Transport Board member