How to sex up travel planning

Sexing up travel planning – that’s my challenge. Not easy! But I am 100% convinced that individual travel planning (which I will explain in a moment) is as likely to reduce congestion as congestion charging, and without spending a penny on new infrastructure.

I get really annoyed that travel planning, car sharing, car clubs, cycling etc get termed ‘soft measures’. I reckon that’s a put down – as though they aren’t as important as the big transport infrastructure projects. Forgive the discrimination – but the boys like the big toys – the Crossrails or the macho game of ‘who’s got the biggest airport’.

And the so called ‘soft measures’ get short shrift on funding. Yet individualized Travel Planning in a project in Perth, Australia reduced congestion by 14% – nearly as much as the Mayor’s congestion charging scheme – but without a penny having to be spent on infrastructure.

Travel planning is basically taking a group of people, finding out about their lives and then giving them individualized travel plans helping them to use public transport where before they would have used their cars.

You see – it’s just not sexy! BUT that sort of cultural or social shift is probably more sustainable and more effective than the big transport projects. Of course, it’s not either or – both are needed.

I forced (too long a story) Transport for London into running four pilots of the ‘Perth’ scheme in London. The reports on how successful or otherwise they have been should be out in a short while.

I was opening speaker at the NHS Travel Plan Forum this morning. This brings travel planning to institutions and corporations and the NHS is one of the biggest employers in London. Transport for London are working with the NHS across 18 major hospital sites in London to begin to try and plan travel for up to 40,000 staff – who face the added challenge of 24 hour working patterns. It was the first meeting of the forum and I think it’s going to be the way to go for corporate or institutional responsibility in the capital.