Why is implementation important?

Implementation is rarely easy, even when a thorough study of the options has been conducted, and stakeholders’ views have been taken into account throughout. In the extreme, the difficulties in deciding whether, and how, to implement may act as the final barrier to implementing a chosen strategy. There are a number of examples of good practice, often associated with the vision-led approach to planning (Section 4), but relatively few studies of how good practice has emerged. This Section is therefore based primarily on common sense and on observation of those cities which have been successful. It draws in part on a study of such cities by TRANSPLUS.

What are the barriers to implementation?

The barriers to implementing a given strategy are likely to be identical to those outlined in Section 10 (and repeated here for completeness):

  • Legal and institutional barriers, including lack of legislation to permit a given policy instrument, and lack of direct responsibility for it (Section 3 )

  • Financial barriers including lack of funds and restrictions on what funds can be spent on and when

  • Political and cultural barriers, and in particular opposition from those adversely affected

  • Practical and technological barriers, including site availability, engineering details and technical performance

As noted there, an inconsistent or incomplete process of strategy formulation may also serve as a barrier to implementation.

How can these barriers be overcome?

The key to this is to identify these barriers at the outset when considering the possible policy instruments (Section 9 , 10). It should then be possible to design a strategy which limits their impact (Section 11). Stakeholder participation is also essential (Section 6 ). When those who might be adversely affected (or even fear that they might be) are fully involved in strategy formulation, it should be possible to identify their concerns, and either redesign the strategy to overcome them, or obtain agreement that, despite them, the strategy should be pursued. In practice those who might be adversely affected are often not identified at the outset, or do not see the need to participate until too late. A distributional analysis at the appraisal stage (Section 13) can help to identify such people. If all else fails, it may be necessary to compensate the losers, either financially or by offering them additional benefits which offset the problems for them.

Does the sequence of implementation matter?

As noted in Section 11, the sequence in which a strategy involving several policy instruments is implemented is extremely important. Some instruments need to be in place before others can be effective; for example, measures which discourage car use may need improvements to public transport to be implemented first. This suggests that both need to be implemented together. Some instruments can be implemented gradually; for example prices can be raised, or traffic controls intensified, over time. This may well be a way of reducing fear of the unknown and of avoiding undue disruption. Some larger and more expensive elements of the strategy may well have to wait until finance can be raised, or until the benefits from investment have increased. The analysis of a strategy therefore has to consider carefully the costs and benefits of alternative sequences and timescales for implementation. At the same time, it will be important to ensure that the strategy as a whole is implemented; there is always a risk that if the more acceptable elements are introduced first, the less popular ones will never be used.

Why is evaluation important?

Every new scheme provides an opportunity for learning from experience, and improving our understanding of the performance of the policy instruments used (Section 9). This can only be done if there is an effective before and after survey which identifies the effects of the strategy on the key performance indicators and against the principal objectives (Section 7). This will enable the strategy to be evaluated in the true sense of the word (Section 13). Evaluation should be carried out using the same appraisal framework (Section 13); however, it also provides an opportunity to reconsider the objectives, indicators and weights being used. We hope that, in due course, the results of such studies can be incorporated into our Policy Guidebook, KonSULT.

Why is monitoring important?

In addition, regular monitoring of conditions will help assess whether problems are being overcome, or whether new problems are emerging. It will thus provide the context for the next review of the strategy. Monitoring should be based on a comprehensive set of outcome, and intermediate outcome indicators (Section 7) which can be readily measured and easily interpreted. Many cities aim to carry out annual monitoring of performance, and five yearly reviews of their strategy. Some go further, and benchmark their performance against those of similar cities. Well conducted benchmarking schemes can help all participating cities to improve their performance.

Types of barrier
• Legal and institutional
• Financial
• Political and cultural
• Practical and technological
Overcoming barriers
• Identify possible barriers early
• Limit their impact at strategy design stage
• Distributional analysis to identify losers
• Involve stakeholders in trying to reduce impact
• Focus on those who might be adversely affected
• Provide compensation where needed
Implementation sequence
• Provide essential capacity first
• Then manage demand
• Introduce gradually where possible
• Implement those requiring substantial funding later
• But implement the whole strategy!

Implementation, evaluation and monitoring

Where can I find out more?

DETR (2000a)
IHT (1996)

References...Section 18

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