In 2007/08 I was fortunate to lead a dedicated research team* that undertook a major study on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) examining the mechanics and impacts associated with household-based personal travel planning (PTP) programmes.
The study examined in detail 15 PTP case studies from across the UK and Australia, along with a broader international literature review. The study culminated in the publication of a full research report and practitioner’s guide (entitled Making PTP Work), which has subsequently been used to help guide many of the LSTF funded PTP programmes that are currently being delivered.
Back in 2007, a key aim of the research was to understand whether PTP was effective in influencing travel behaviour, and if so, to better understand the PTP process, and enable more local authorities to deliver/commission PTP programmes in different ways. This article takes a look at what has been happening in the world of PTP since the research, and whether the 2008 Making PTP Work guidance has helped to change the shape of PTP delivery across the UK.
At the time of conducting our original research the broad geography of UK PTP schemes was limited to a few locations, largely driven by places that had been successful in securing central government funding to deliver pilot programmes. At that time there was general consistency on the reported success of these schemes, typically reporting to have reduced car driver trips by between 9% and 11%. This is shown in Figure 1.
Since the publication of Making PTP Work there has been significant growth and diversity in the delivery and reported outcomes of household PTP programmes across the UK, including most notably:
There have been a number of new commercial organisations and local authorities that are delivering PTP using their own adapted processes. In this respect it would appear that the Making PTP Work practitioner’s guide has played an important role in helping to better understand the PTP process, and the benefits that PTP can deliver.
New approaches to PTP delivery include:
The PTP market appears to have been significantly enhanced (in both scale and diversity) as a result of Making PTP Work; we at ITP are very proud of this. We believe this demonstrates the importance of sharing knowledge and experience through appropriately focussed research.
The PTP market is now much more mature and diverse than it was when the original research was carried out in 2007. However, it also means we need to continue to better understand the long term impacts of PTP, and to answer some of the remaining unanswered questions, such as:
These questions could be answered by a combination of an update to the 2007 findings alongside fresh primary research and evaluation for major PTP programmes.
Having spent 18 months seeking to understand every detail of the PTP process back in 2007/08 (and seen the exceptional efforts of all members of the Making PTP Work research team to dissect the evidence base underpinning the various case studies we examined) it is heart-warming to know that the research findings and practitioners guide have proved valuable in helping people to better navigate and understand how to deliver effective PTP programmes.
It’s particularly rewarding to know that the findings of research can be appropriately applied to improve future project performance, and I look forward to the next opportunity to examine if, how and why PTP programmes influence behaviour.
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