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blog: Discover how 100,000 residents have been encouraged to make sustainable travel choices

Author: Rachel Tate

Personalised Travel Planning is often referred to as PTP in the Smarter Travel industry but what does this actually mean? PTP is a behavioural change technique that delivers information, incentives, and motivation to individuals in order to help them make sustainable travel choices instead of choosing to travel by car. The aim of PTP is to overcome habitual use of the car, thereby enabling more journeys to be made on foot, on bike, and by public transport. 

What has been ITP's role?

ITP was lead author of the DfT’s ‘Making Personal Travel Planning Work’ research report and accompanying best practice guide. This well-respected report and guidance has set the standard for PTP in the UK and has been widely used by practitioners in developing, delivering, and evaluating the PTP programmes.

Making Ptp Work

Over the past 10-years, ITP has independently evaluated more than 25 PTP projects in the UK implementing the best practice guidance. In total over 100,000 households have taken part in PTP projects and have been encouraged to think about their travel choices. 

What is involved in a typical PTP project?

PTP is typically delivered across large residential areas. Each resident within the target population is encouraged to think about how they currently travel for each of the trips they make and consider how they might make those trips in more sustainable ways. The tools and techniques to encourage people to travel sustainably differ from project to project and include:

  • one-to-one conversations at the doorstep between individuals and trained travel advisors to encourage and motivate a change in behaviour;
  • the provision of information on how to travel sustainably. This could include maps or guides about the local bus network, cycling routes, or information about car sharing. This is usually provided within a travel information pack; 
  • the offer of gifts and incentives to encourage the use of sustainable options, for example free or discounted bus tickets, cycle training, and prize draws.

How is a PTP project delivered and evaluated?

A PTP project can be divided into two distinct but dependent workstreams; delivery and evaluation:  

  • Delivery: the travel advisor advocates the sustainable transport options and the resident receives a tailored travel information pack on the doorstep or by post.
  • Evaluation: measures the success of the PTP intervention and identifies lesson leant which can be used in the design of future projects. 
Ptp Delivery And Eval

What is the uptake of PTP? 

Residents get involved in PTP projects for lots of different reasons and we expect projects to achieve around a 25% participation rate. Of those that choose to take part in the project, we expect that the majority of participants complete a baseline before survey with the travel advisor, which is captured for the purpose of monitoring and evaluation of the project.

Another important metric to monitor is the 'conversion rate' - this shows the proportion of householders who were at home when the advisors made their visits, and of these households, the number who chose to take part in the project. We would typically expect this to be around 60%. 

Participation Rate Conversion Rate

Why do people get involved?

Residents who take part in personalised travel planning projects speak positively about their involvements. Around 20% of after survey participants generally state they have changed their behaviour in some form and many residents get involved in the project to:

  • use their car less often;
  • save money on fuel, parking and taxi fares;
  • become healthier and improve fitness;
  • become more informed about their travel options;
  • overcome travel barriers that prevent them from getting to desired destinations; and
  • do their bit for the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

How effective is PTP in reducing car travel?

What impact can you expect to achieve from a PTP project? On average PTP projects evaluated by ITP have achieved around a 13 percentage point reduction in single occupancy car use for work trips and a 10 percentage point reduction for shopping trips.

As a result of, and in additional to reducing car travel, PTP can also provide a number of wider benefits for local communities. These can include:

  • improved local air quality;
  • reduction in carbon emissions;
  • increased viability of local shops and businesses; 
  • increased public transport use, making services more feasible and profitable;
  • more sociable and ‘liveable’ neighbourhoods; and
  • stronger partnerships between the agencies and organisations.

TOP TIPS - how to make personalised travel planning work

Adaptive learning forms a core component of ITP's evaluation process and we have been able to identify areas in which the planning, delivery, and evaluation of the PTP projects can be further developed. Our top five recommendations include:

  • Area selection - choose a delivery area which can offer residents alternative transport options e.g. good quality walking and cycling infrastructure, bus, tram or rail services nearby.
  • Marketing - increase brand awareness through posters, social media, and events in the area e.g. Nottinghamshire County Council produced a video called 'Making the right Travel Choices in Newark and Mansfield' to promote their Travel Choice PTP project in Nottinghamshire.
  • Incentives - motivate residents to take part by offering prize draws, free bus taster tickets or discount vouchers.
  • After survey participation rates - to increase the number of surveys completed offer residents the opportunity to complete the after survey via e-mail, post or telephone.
  • Identify supporting datasets - this could include time series analysis (pre/post intervention) of cycle counts, pedestrian counts, bus boarding data, cordon traffic flows, and other transport related survey data to corroborate the findings of the evaluation surveys. 
Ptp Delivery Team

The future

The Government is committed to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and this includes a focus on decarbonising the transport sector. PTP has an important role to play in encouraging residents to choose sustainable travel options. Our evidence base shows that Personalised Travel Planning consistently works and encourages residents to make a shift away from choosing the car and can help encourage residents to make sustainable choices a habit.  

If you would like to know more about PTP, please visit the Personalised Travel Planning page on our website. If you'd like to speak with us about how we can support you with a PTP project in your area, please get in touch.


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