Transport strategy
Policy Instruments

Types of barrier
Legal, financial and political barriers
Financial barriers
Political barriers
Practical and technology barriers
The treatment of constraints

Types of barrier

A barrier is an obstacle that prevents the coming-into-force of a particular measure, or causes delays in its implementation. Barriers can be rigid or flexible, the latter being able to be overcome given sufficient time or resources. Land use measures tend to face more rigid barriers than, say, management or information measures.

Barriers can be either positive or negative. A positive barrier arises when one of the objectives of the strategy restricts the ability of a measure to achieve other objectives. Environmental constraints are examples, and their imposition could well improve the measure or its performance. By contrast, a negative barrier, such as inadequate legislation, may cause delays and excess costs in the implementation of the measure.

The negative barriers can be grouped into three categories:

  • Legal and institutional: lack of legal powers to implement a particular measure, and legal responsibilities which are split between agencies, limiting the ability of the city authority to implement the affected measure;
  • Financial: budget restrictions limiting the overall expenditure on the strategy, financial restrictions on specific measures, and limitations on the flexibility with which revenues can be used to finance the full range of measures;
  • Political and cultural aspects: lack of political or public acceptance of a measure, restrictions imposed by pressure groups, and cultural attributes, such as attitudes to enforcement, which influence the effectiveness of measures.

Legal, financial and political barriers

European cities were asked about the extent to which legal barriers imposed constraints on different types of measure. The results are shown below. They suggest that land-use, road building and pricing are the policy areas most commonly subject to legal constraints. Road building, pricing and land use measures experience the greatest legal constraints, while information measures are substantially less constrained than the other measures. A greater proportion of small and large cities view legal barriers as imposing major constraints than do medium sized cities. Large cities are more likely to perceive legal barriers on road building and pricing measures.

Measures for which legal barriers are a constraint in 54 survey cities

Financial barriers

The figure below provides perceptions of the severity of financial barriers for European cities. It suggests that road building and public transport infrastructure are the two policy areas which are most commonly subject to financial constraints, with 80% of cities stating that finance was a major barrier. Information provision, again, was the least affected in terms of financial constraints. The only differences by city size are that small cities are less likely to perceive financial constraints on land use policies, and large cities are even less likely to identify financial constraints on information measures.

Measures for which financial barriers are a constraint in 54 survey cities

Political barriers

The figure below summarises information on political barriers for European cities. It suggests that road building and pricing are the two policy areas which are most commonly subject to acceptability constraints, with around 50% of cities stating that acceptability was a significant constraint on road building and pricing measures. Public transport operations and information provision were the least affected by acceptability constraints. Generally, large and small cities were more likely than medium sized cities to identify political barriers. Large cities were much more likely to perceive such barriers for road and rail infrastructure projects; small cities were more likely to identify them for pricing measures.

Measures for which political barriers are a constraint in 54 survey cities

Practical and technological barriers

While cities view legal, financial and political barriers as the most serious which they face in implementing land use and transport policy instruments, there are some concerns also over practical limitations. For land use and infrastructure these may well include land acquisition. For management and pricing, enforcement and administration are key issues. For infrastructure, management and information systems, engineering design and availability of technology may limit progress. No attempt was made to survey cities' views on these, since they are very specific to individual instruments. However, they are considered fully in Level 2.

The treatment of constraints

As is clear there is a long list of possible constraints to implementing policy instruments currently. Integrated Transport Strategies, however, are typically developed for implementation over a 15-20 year timescale, and it is by no means certain that these constraints will still apply in the horizon year. More importantly, a key element in the development of an integrated transport strategy is to identify those constraints which should, if possible, be removed. Thus if new legislation could achieve a more effective transport strategy, it should be provided; if deregulation makes it difficult to achieve effective timetables and fares structures, it should be modified; if finance for investment in new infrastructure is justified, the financial rules should be adjusted to ensure that it can be provided. (May and Roberts, 1995).

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Text edited at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT