New report shows smaller transport schemes have big benefits

Small but mighty

- Report identifies four key advantages -

A new report from pteg, launched today (24th June), ‘Small but mighty transport schemes’, shows that smaller transport schemes can achieve outstanding value for money in boosting growth and contribute towards other wide ranging social and environmental public policy benefits. 

The report finds: 

 “Smaller schemes can be more effectively targeted at key bottlenecks and focus on quick wins. [They] (…) provide a low cost, low risk opportunity to test out novel ideas before proceeding to a larger scale roll-out.”

The report can be downloaded below.

Through an in-depth review of ten case studies the report finds four key reasons behind the success of small schemes.

  • Small schemes are responsive – they are easy to implement and can be used to address swiftly changing situations. The South Yorkshire JobConnectors programme provided enhanced bus links to new employment sites in an area of South Yorkshire with low car ownership, creating up to a 62% increase in patronage, while reducing staff turnover and improving recruitment.
  • Small schemes can capitalise effectively on local knowledge to quickly tackle known local problems. For example in West Yorkshire a traffic light priority scheme identified and prioritised junction signals, reprogramming them to speed up buses. This has had a positive effect on bus reliability and operating speeds, with journey time savings of around 15%.
  • Small schemes can provide proof of concept and scalability – they can help us understand key success factors, which can be used to scale up what works. The Ucycle project in Nottingham started with two small trials at university campuses, and was later extended to encompass further education colleges and improvements to cycle routes following positive early results. Nearly 15% of University of Nottingham students and staff now cycle to campus.
  • Small schemes are easily targeted – they can focus on quick wins and the most troublesome bottlenecks. Transport for Greater Manchester’s ‘Local Link’ bus initiative provides a bookable ‘go anywhere’ bus service that fills in the missing links in transport provision, allowing workers to reach previously inaccessible employment opportunities. In one area, work trips by bus almost doubled.

This work builds on pteg’s 2011 report on the ‘Value for money and appraisal of small schemes’, which gathered over 150 separate pieces of evidence and showed that, on average, smaller schemes deliver £3.50 of economic benefits for every £1 of public spending. Our wider work demonstrating the impact of local transport spending also includes the 2014 ‘Transport Works for Jobs and Growth’ report, the 2013 ‘Case for the Urban Bus’ report and the website.

Dr Jon Lamonte, Chair of pteg, said:

‘By using local expertise to target local problems, smaller transport schemes can deliver outstanding value for money. Combined with larger transformational projects, they are vital in promoting economic growth and achieving wider social objectives. 

This report forms part of a much wider programme of work by pteg on the impact of local transport spending. Taken together, this comprehensive evidence base is already influencing Treasury thinking and should further inform the upcoming Spending Review, ensuring local transport can fulfill its potential in supporting economic growth.’

​For more contact Jonathan Bray on 0781 804 1485 / 0113 251 7445