The Transport Planning Society (TPS) has thrown the covers off its theme for the upcoming Transport Planning Day – which, this year, will take place on Monday 11th November online, as well as at London’s Institution of Civil Engineers. 

The theme, which will be of interest to many transport consultants and their clients, has been confirmed as “The Road Less Travelled: the Principles, Policies, Practicalities and Politics of Reducing Car Use in the UK”. 

The TPS – which describes itself as “a society to facilitate, develop and promote best practice and innovation in transport planning and provide a focus for dialogue between all those engaged in it” – has said that amid a “climate emergency”, the reduction of car use has come to play a central role in debates around cutting emissions and reaching Net Zero. 

A timely theme as UK Governments continue to focus on Net Zero

In its explanation of the Transport Planning Day 2024 theme, the TPS stated that Governments across the UK had communicated the need to reduce car use as part of their Net Zero ambitions. 

Furthermore, the society said, Governments had recognised how decreased use of cars could help address the broader impacts of a continuing growth in road traffic. Such impacts range from congestion and road casualties to community severance and local air pollution. 

The society cited examples of local and national administrations including the Scottish Government, which has set the objective of achieving a 20% reduction in car kilometres travelled by the end of 2030, and London, where the Mayor confirmed in 2022 plans to lower the total distance driven by cars in the UK capital by 27% compared to 2018 levels. 

Unpacking an issue that has caused no shortage of controversy 

It is also important, however, for transport consultants to acknowledge that the very notion of lowering usage of cars has been keenly contested in some quarters. 

Sure enough, the TPS noted this in its announcement of the Transport Planning Day 2024 theme, stating that there had been increasingly polarised debate about measures perceived by some observers to be “anti-car”. Furthermore, there have been concerns that some local traffic management schemes haven’t been as well-designed as they ought to have been, or perhaps should have been subject to greater consultation before they were introduced. 

Questions have been asked, too, as to whether policies aimed at helping to reduce car travel could be considered an assault on drivers’ freedom of choice. Worries persist, as well, about a lack of meaningful alternatives to car travel in some parts of the country. 

These are just some of the many vital aspects of the topic that 2024’s Transport Planning Day programme looks set to unpack. 

Further information about this year’s campaign can be found on the website of the Transport Planning Society. In the meantime, if you would like to benefit from the guidance and expertise of our own transport consultants for your projects, please contact your nearest Transport Planning Associates (TPA) office