Transport governance and the environment : the changing decision making context of road transport in north east England
The environmental problems originating from transport are considerable, persistent and increasing. In personal travel there is a continuing switch away from public transport towards the private car. Also the proportion of freight moving by road is increasing in volume and distance. These trends reveal that the transport of both people and goods is less sustainable than it was. Altering existing transport behaviour to reduce demand, simultaneously shaping suppressed demand, and achieving both whilst maintaining politically acceptable levels of access and mobility are serious challenges. This thesis explores a part of the complex landscape of transport decision making where theses tensions are enacted, focussing on three key group of organisations within the road transport sector of the north east of England. The thesis assess the salience of ‘the environment’ within the minds of organisational transport decision makers in the North East. Their views on the environment and its importance within their decisions will affect the success of policy initiatives. Examining transport choices within this context reveals the depth of ‘environmental’ understanding present within the operational landscape of transport. It is argued that theoretical and conceptual approaches to the process of transport policy development have matured, whilst the implementation of transport policy resulting from this process remains somewhat patchy with traditional approaches to transport provision remaining dominant. The argument is covered in terms of transport paradigms. Though sustainability policies remain, recent integrated transport initiatives are undermined from the centre by a return to the market paradigm and to ‘predict and provide’. Within this research clear evidence has emerged of reinterpretations of ‘the environment’ taking place, Theses discoveries illustrate the ability of governance and organisational actors to assimilate emerging policy requirements into existing or preferred programmes and transport behaviours, in support of the aims of recent transport policies the ability to identify economic and environmental ‘win-win’ opportunities was found to be important. Decisive leadership was found to deliver effective transport policies.