TravelSmart - a better way to goSpacer
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TravelSmart - a better way to goSpacer



This section will help you to appreciate the big picture of where TravelSmart comes from and how it relates to addressing our transport problems.

The section is broken into three chapters:

  1. Travelling Smarter to address our transport problems
  2. Overseas Experience
  3. TravelSmart programs in Australia

Travelling Smarter to Address our Transport Problems

Many countries are facing the challenges associated with increasing motor vehicle ownership and use. While the relative importance varies from country to country, common issues include:

There is a growing awareness that a continuation of current trends in relation to motor vehicle use is likely to be fundamentally in conflict with any aim of achieving a sustainable urban transport system.


This section deals with the following aspects:


There are a variety of solution approaches which can be adopted to address these issues; however, they can be broadly grouped into two categories:

What we are talking about here is just like what has happened in the field of water supply. The traditional approach to increased water consumption was to expand the capacity of the system by building more dams (that is action which aimed to satisfy the anticipated demand). Now there is a greater emphasis on managing the demand by encouraging users to avoid waste and introducing pricing schemes which provide a disincentive to increasing use.

The traditional approach to addressing transport problems has been to increase the capacity of the road system to carry more cars by widening roads or building new ones.

This is sometimes referred to as a 'supply-based' approach because it requires the supply, or building, of new infrastructure. This has also been called a 'predict and provide' approach because the response to predictions of increased demand for road space has been to provide expanded road networks.

There is a growing international realisation that 'supply based' or 'demand satisfaction' approaches, which aim to satisfy future travel demands rather than seeking to manage those demands, are not the solution to our transport problems. This is in part due to rising infrastructure costs and community concerns over trying to provide for car based travel in urban areas by continuing with the traditional 'supply' approach of expanding road network capacity.

Car Congestion

Car Dependence

For trips to the central business district of major cities the car may capture only 30 to 40 per cent of all travellers while for travel in the suburbs the percentage is closer to 80 per cent or more. The trend is also for the car to capture a growing percentage of urban travel.

In Brisbane for example, the proportion of trips made by public transport fell from 11 per cent in 1976 to around 8 per cent in 1992 and was forecast to fall further if policies were not changed (Brisbane City Council, undated). Similar declines in public transport usage have been experienced in other Australian cities.

When referring to travel behaviour change programs, the concept of 'car dependence' is of relevance. The term 'car dependence' became established in the vocabulary of transport professionals through work undertaken in the UK in the mid 1990'.

That British research, conducted by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC, 1995) examined how people have built their present way of life around their cars and have come to depend on them for many regular and occasional journeys. While the underlying research focused primarily on UK, American and Dutch data, the insight is equally valid in an Australian context.

The UK work highlighted that it is appropriate to think of a scale of car dependence. At one end, a minority of journeys have to be done by car because of their origin, destination and the necessity of that journey. At the other end of the scale, there is a minority of journeys where good alternatives already exist and the car is chosen out of inertia or 'dependence'

A large portion of total travel lies in between these two extremes. For a significant proportion of these trips, the car is a rational choice for individuals because of a combination of physical and time constraints and poor quality alternatives. To reduce the car dependence of these trips, either extensive and expensive improvements in alternatives are required or substantial changes to lifestyles, which takes time.

However, the RAC study argued that for a significant proportion of travel, the degree of car dependence is less and can be reduced by smaller improvements in alternatives or less dramatic changes in attitudes and behaviour. Quite logically the RAC suggests that:

-the most fruitful way forward is focus initially on reducing car dependence for the 'easiest' target journeys - those for which alternatives, including walking are already available, and progressively including those for which satisfactory alternatives (either improved public transport, cycling and walking facilities or of development patterns which economise the number of trips) can be made available by suitable policies on infrastructure, services, development and traffic management. (RAC,1995)

The TravelSmart initiatives described in this Training Resource Guide are entirely consistent with this policy approach. Australian travel behaviour exhibits similar degrees of car dependence although the extent of car use is not uniform across our cities.


The increasing mode share for the car in urban travel has produced many well publicised impacts such as noise and air pollution. Health related impacts are now rating more of a mention and bringing a new group of professionals into the debate about the need for travel behaviour change.

Health and fitness are impacted by the sedentary nature of car travel compared to more active modes of walking, cycling and even public transport where it involves walking to and from public transport stops.

Encouraging greater use of more active modes of transport, particularly cycling, can increase life expectancy. Hilman (1997) estimated that in the UK for every year lost as a result of increased cycling (primarily because cycling has a higher accident rate than motorised modes) 20 years are gained through improved health and fitness.

While this effect may be less significant in Australia because of the greater range of outdoor recreation opportunities feasible for most of the year (Kerr and James, 1999) it would be very conservative to assume no positive impacts on life expectancy from promoting more active modes of transport in Australia.

Travel Demand

Throughout the world there is increasing interest in opportunities to influence travel demand, through travel demand, or as they are known in Europe, mobility management programs.

Travel Demand Management (TDM) has been defined as:

"... intervention (excluding provision of major infrastructure) to modify travel decisions so that more desirable transport, social, economic and/or environmental objectives can be achieved, and the adverse impacts of travel can be reduced." (Institution of Engineers Australia, 1996)

The field of travel demand management is now a specialist area within the transport and traffic profession.

TDM includes a variety of measures (Wayte, 1991) such as:

The emphasis of the approaches considered in this training resource guide are Travel Behaviour Change programs which more or less fit into the last of the categories listed above. These are sometimes referred to as 'softer' TDM initiatives when compared with options like road pricing or tighter controls on car parking.

A Travel Behaviour Change program can be defined as a 'public engagement campaign' designed to enable individuals to become more aware of their travel options and where possible exercise choices which reduce use of the private motor vehicle - (Rose and Ampt, in press).

Throughout Australia a variety of travel behaviour change programs are being developed and implemented under the banner of 'TravelSmart'. These programs are often run by State or Local Government authorities and typically focus on three application sectors: workplaces, schools or communities. TravelSmart officers are being recruited by State and Local government authorities to develop and implement travel behaviour change programs. Clearly for these programs to produce benefits for the community there is a need for them to be soundly based and delivered. This Training Resource Guide aims to assist in that context.

If you would like to learn more about initiatives in the Travel Demand Management area the following web site is a good starting point. The site is maintained by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in British Columbia in Canada.


Brisbane City Council (undated) Travel Smart: A Traffic Reduction Strategy for Brisbane 24 pp.

Hillman, M. (1997) "Health promotion and non-motorised transport", In Fletcher, T. and McMichael A.J. (Eds.) Transport Police and Urban Health. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, England.

Institution of Engineers, Australia. (1996) Policy on Travel Demand Management in Urban Areas. Canberra.

Kerr, I. and James, B. (1999) "Evaluating behavioural change in transport - a case study of individualised marketing in South Perth, Western Australia". Proceedings, 23rd Australasian Transport Research Forum, 703-719.

Rose, G. and Ampt, E.S. (in press) "Travel Behaviour Change through Individual Engagement", in Hensher, D.H. and Button, K. Handbooks in Transport, Elsevier Publishing. Transport Handbook Paper

Wayte, A. (1991) Road Demand management, Paper presented at Travel Demand Management Seminar, Perth, PPK Consultants Pty. Ltd.

Overseas Experience

Throughout the world there is increasing attention being focused on the effects of the car in terms of environment, congestion and negative life-style implications.

USA In the early 1990s clean air legislation and the Intermodal Surface Transport Efficiency Act (ISTEA) combined to focus attention on the link between motor vehicle use and air quality.

The US Clean Air Act linked federal funds for new roads to city improvements in air quality, which in turn encouraged TDM.

California led the way with mandatory 'Trip Reduction Ordinances' which required employers to reduce drive alone access to workplaces.

Throughout the US, Transit Management Associations grew as a partnership between business organizations, local governments and public transport operators who shared a desire to tackle traffic congestion and declining public transport ridership.

UK In the UK, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (1994) strongly signaled the need for change when it suggested that transport "has become possibly the greatest environmental threat facing the UK and one of the greatest obstacles to achieving sustainable development".

Major road building programs in the UK in the 1980s did not alleviate rising congestion in the 1990s. Indeed the UK began to acknowledge that building new roads unleashes more cars (through the so called induced demand effect) which tempers any congestion reductions achieved by expanding the road network.

Around the same time, the privatisation of the railways and deregulation of public transport in many parts of the UK raised concerns about safety and service standards and contributed to undermining the position of the major competitors to the car.

The Integrated Transport White Paper in the UK signaled an important change with a shift in funding responsibilities to local councils with more emphasis on TDM and longer term funding guarantees.

At a local level there has been increasing reliance on the development of access plans with their development being supported by over 100 positions funded by central government. These people, the UK equivalent of Australia's TravelSmart officers, are based in councils to undertake development of school and workplace access plans.

TravelSmart Programs in Australia

Australia has been a world leader in the development and implementation of travel behaviour change programs. Increasingly these are being delivered under the banner of TravelSmart. Here we will comment briefly on two community based programs which have attracted considerable attention: Travel Blending and Individualised Marketing

The Travel Blending Program was initially developed as part of a major public initiative called "Clean Air 2000" which aimed to reduce pollution caused by car travel in Sydney prior to the year 2000 Olympics. Clean Air 2000 was an initiative of the NRMA, Australia's largest motoring membership organisation. Part of the Clean Air 2000 initiative focussed on encouraging behavioural change in the way people used their cars (Gollner, 1996).

The Travel Blending program was developed to help achieve this. Travel Blending involves in-depth analysis of people's travel behaviour followed by detailed suggestions on how behaviour could be modified, with follow up monitoring and feedback. The term travel blending is used to describe a way for individuals to reduce the use of the car by blending, or mixing, their travel choices over time. After initial development in Sydney, the program was then run in Adelaide and has since seen application in the UK, USA and Chile. TravelSmart communities in Victoria now includes a component of Travel Blending.

The concept of Individualised Marketing was developed and tested in Europe in the 1990's before being applied in Germany, Austria and Sweden as part of abroad European initiative. TravelSmart in Western Australia, which was established in 1997, is recognised internationally for the success of its innovate approach built on Individualised Marketing (IM).

IM relies on individual contact with a significant segment of the target population who indicate an interest in changing travel behaviour towards more environmentally friendly modes. It involves targeted personal approaches to those people identified as potential mode switchers. Personalised information, advice and incentives are provided to encourage change. IM is generally used for direct marketing of public transport but has also been applied to encourage use of walking and cycling.

There are travel behaviour change programs underway in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the ACT. Broadly speaking, there is already encouraging results from the TravelSmart community-based programs, well developed school based programs (particularly in South Australia) and increasing activity in the area of workplace based programs.

To learn more about current TravelSmart initiatives round Australia try these links:

Gollner, A. (1996) "Talking Reform - Shaping Sydney's Transport for Clean Air", Proc. ITE Regional Conference, Melbourne.