Delivering the Connections: Transport, Social Exclusion and Accessibility Planning in the Uk
K Lucas, TSG, University of Westminster; D Halden, Derek Halden Consultancy, UK
In 2001, the Prime Minister asked the UK Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) to undertake a study to examine the links between transport, the location of services and social exclusion. The 2003 report ?Making the connections: final report on transport and social exclusion? that emerged from this study set out a strategy to help ensure that those facing social exclusion can reach opportunities such as work, education and health treatment. The report introduces a new framework, which aims to ensure that there is a clearer process for identifying and tackling barriers to access. This will be complemented by a range of specific measures and policy changes to make it easier for people on low incomes to access work and key services.
In response to the study, the Department for Transport (DfT) has agreed that local authorities in England that produce Local Transport Plans (LTPs) should undertake accessibility planning as part of their next round of LTPs, due to be submitted in 2005. The aim is to ensure a clearer and more systematic process for identifying groups and areas with accessibility problems linked to an action plan for addressing these. Transport authorities and other local agencies, such as job centres, health and education service providers will be expected to work in partnership to encourage a more integrated cross-agency approach to delivering improvements in accessibility.
The need to develop the culture and practice of accessibility planning has been recognised for some time but, despite attempts by various authorities over the last 30 years or so, the necessary links between policies, administration, analytical techniques, data availability, and skills have proved elusive in most local authorities. To support development of accessibility planning and inform future guidance, the Department for Transport commissioned a pilot study to develop, test and make recommendations on the best way forward.
The overarching objective for the pilot projects has been to practically demonstrate how accessibility planning can promote joint-working across a range of different delivery agencies at the local level to further key national and local aims to reduce social exclusion by improving access to employment, education, healthcare, shopping and other key activities for disadvantaged groups and communities. To this end, seven subsidiary research objectives were identified, as follows:
1.To develop, test and make recommendations on datasets and a menu of local accessibility indicators to assist authorities in identifying areas and groups with poor accessibility, and in measuring and monitoring progress;
2.To work with pilot authorities to test and refine accessibility assessment approaches and techniques that will enable local authorities to identify groups and areas experiencing problems accessing key local services via the local public transport, cycle and walking networks;
3.To work with pilot authorities and other key local stakeholders to identify the existing and potential resources that could be used to improve accessibility within the pilot area. To assess whether, and how, these resources could be used more effectively to meet identified needs and gaps;
4.To develop and recommend ways to improve and promote co-ordination and partnership working between local service providers;
5.To work with pilot local authorities and other local stakeholders in the development and agreement of an accessibility action plan to address problems identified by the needs audit;
6.To make recommendations on appropriate approaches for accessibility planning bearing in mind authorities different capacities, and that there may be different levels of sophistication or complexity and expected, good or exceptional standards;
7.To identify lessons learnt, potential barriers to implementation and examples of good practice to inform DfT?s future guidance.
The study has presented a number of methodological issues and challenges, which will be discussed in the paper including:
* Working in partnership with local authorities and other key local delivery agencies to build practical solutions from complementary aims and integrating accessibility planning with the ongoing work of pre-existing local partnerships;
* Local policy development for accessibility in transport and non-transport sectors.
* Best practice approaches for analysing accessibility of local public transport networks.
* Use of GIS datasets and analytical methods.
* Interpreting travel attitudes and behaviour and the way that access to and using public transport is perceived.
* Community consultation and participation techniques with a particular emphasis on engaging ?hard to reach? and excluded groups and communities.
* Representing the utility offered by travel destinations using practical and available cross-sector data sources.
* Delivering high quality research and consultancy projects on tight timescales. The paper also describes the main approaches and techniques that were used in the pilot studies and highlights the key issues that have emerged in response to the methodologies that were applied.
Association for European Transport