Paul Buchanan at LLT Local Transport Summit in Manchester

Paul BuchananIn its second year, the LLT Local Transport Summit is a gathering of senior level decision-makers and professional experts in local and regional transport initiated by Local Transport Today and supported by the Department for Transport. This year the Summit took place in Manchester on the 16th and 17th November.

The intention is to provide a relaxed environment where those present discuss the fundamentals of good practice in determining transport strategy, setting priorities, linking transport objectives to wider social and economic ones and to embrace changing public and political values, technological capabilities and commercial models.

Volterra Partner Paul Buchanan was invited to attend and give a “provocation” talk.

Paul argued that the current system of transport appraisal, based almost entirely on time savings to users, was not fit for purpose.

The system is static, it assumes no changes to land use, people continue to make the same trips, just a little bit faster.

There was an issue raised in advance about why don’t transport planners carry more weight with government. Paul’s answered ‘because we are measuring/forecasting the wrong things. If we focused on the hard economic outputs of new transport infrastructure ie new houses, new jobs then the politicians and decision makers would be very interested in what we have to say. HS2 has shown that even 30 mins off the journey from London to Manchester gets a big “so what ” in reply from the public. But saying the response would be more jobs, more homes, increased productivity and wealth that would be the basis for a much more powerful argument’.

Paul summed up saying ‘It needs work. The current system has been in place for 50 years and it will be difficult to change, but we should be trying to change not protecting the status quo.’

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