New Book on Sustainable Transportation

A new book co-authored by Institute Director Professor Greg Marsden prompts readers to consider whether many existing approaches to sustainable transport are truly effective.

Sustainable Transportation: Indicators Frameworks and Performance Management is the culmination of several years work with co-authors Henrik GudmundssonRalph Hall and Joe Zietsman.  Written for students, academics and practitioners, it combines theory on sustainability and transportation governance with case studies from pioneering practices.

The book begins by providing a rich account of sustainable development, transportation’s contribution (positive and negative) to those goals and what is meant and intended in various interpretations of "sustainable transportation". Whilst this part of the book reflects the state of art it is grounded in principles which can be explored and developed in a range of contexts. The book, as the title suggests then goes on to explore the importance of information in decision-support around sustainable transportation.

It is in the use of information to support decisions or challenge progress within and across agencies that the challenges of actually delivering more sustainable transportation are actually played out however and the book therefore turns to the governance of transportation, how transportation relates to other important policy sectors and the use, mis-use and non-use of information in taking decisions which affect the sustainability of transportation. The book is a key resource in how information can and should be used and how it can all be put together to provide a holistic sustainability perspective whatever the scale and remit of an organisation. It is a toolkit for how to work through the challenges rather than an off the shelf solution. We argue very strongly that context is so important to what information is available and what is important that, whilst common information needs exist, a one size fits all approach will not unlock the progress needed.

The second part of the book takes four case studies and reflects on the state of art in sustainability decision-making in transportation set against the framework and definitions we provide in the book. Here a critical academic analysis, presented in terms which practitioners can understand, unfolds of:

  • A large scale strategic planning exercise (the EU Transport White Paper)
  • A sustainability appraisal of a major infrastructure proposal (UK High Speed Rail)
  • A green ratings tool for a state highways agency applied in a variety of contexts (New York State’s GREENLITES programme)
  • A city based benchmarking and environmental improvement programme (Japan)

The case studies reveal the potential for sustainability appraisal tools to allow organisations to prioritise interventions and make improvements in areas where they have control but they also reveal challenges which result from the position they adopt in decision-making processes (e.g. mitigation rather than prioritisation) and in demonstrating tangible outcomes over short political time-scales.

The book concludes with a debate about the shape and scale of the challenges facing the sustainable transportation delivery agenda. That debate will continue and we look forward to hearing your thoughts. A website for supporting materials will be launched shortly - look out for Twitter updates via @RalphPHall and @DrGregMarsden

Sustainable Transportation: Indicators Frameworks and Performance Management is available via: