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Smarter Choices: Assessing the Potential to Achieve Traffic Reduction Using 'Soft Measures'

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In recent years, there has been a growing interest in a range of transport policy initiatives which are designed to influence people's travel behaviour away from single-occupancy car use and towards more benign and efficient options, through a combination of marketing, information, incentives and tailored new services. In transport policy discussions, these are now widely described as 'soft' factor interventions or 'smarter choice' measures or 'mobility management' tools. In 2004, the UK Department for Transport commissioned a major study to examine whether large-scale programmes of these measures could potentially deliver substantial cuts in car use. The purpose of this article is to clarify the approach taken in the study, the types of evidence reviewed and the overall conclusions reached. In summary, the results suggested that, within approximately ten years, smarter choice measures have the potential to reduce national traffic levels by about 11%, with reductions of up to 21% of peak period urban traffic. Moreover, they represent relatively good value for money, with schemes potentially generating benefit:cost ratios which are in excess of 10:1. The central conclusion of the study was that such measures could play a very significant role in addressing traffic, given the right support and policy context.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Transport Studies, University College London, London, UK and Transport Research Laboratory, Crowthorne UK 2: Transport for Quality of Life, Machynlleth, UK 3: The Centre for Transport Policy, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK 4: Eco-Logica, Lancaster, UK 5: Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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