Transport policy, appraisal and decision-making18 May 2015

The public pound v political capital

This paper by Tom Worsley and Peter Mackie is about the interaction and tensions between transport policy, the appraisal process, and decision-making.

Transport policy is articulated at two levels – policy goals, such as contributing to economic performance; and policy levers which aim to attain the goals, such as pricing, regulation, institutional change and investment.

Policy analysis has an important role to play, more at the level of helping to assess how well particular interventions and levers will work, and less at the level of defining top-level objectives.

Dramatic shifts in policy are unusual. For every year when Transport Acts are passed, deregulating the buses or privatising the railways – or even placing the Highways Agency on a new footing – there are many years of operating within a given policy setting.

Most work within government is about interpreting policy in specific contexts, identifying options and choices, and then assembling materials to input to the decision-making process.