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Transport and society

Lyons, Glenn

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Glenn Lyons
Professor of Future Mobility


In 1963, the Buchanan Report in the UK advocated a combination of new road capacity, improved public transport and traffic restraint as a means to tackle congestion. Forty years on, and the advice from many transport experts remains the same. However, the scale and complexity of the problems associated with a mobility-dependent society have grown. The need for politicians to make tough but realistic policy decisions on transport is now becoming unavoidable. They must confront the realities of living with the car as must the general public. Policymakers now also have social well-being and sustainable development moving higher on their agendas alongside transport. Against such a backdrop, the paper makes the case for transport research, policy and practice to acknowledge more fully the inherent links between transport and society. It argues that greater recognition and understanding of such links is crucial to confronting the present realities. Transport does not merely serve society: it shapes society, as in turn society shapes transport. The future of each is dependent on the other, and this fact must be recognized. The paper advocates in turn that the transport profession must move from its ,heartlands in engineering and economics also to embrace more fully such disciplines as sociology and psychology. A factual picture of the many facets of present-day society is presented and the implications for travel demand are discussed. Through considering phenomena such as social norms and habitual behaviour, it is then argued that the travel choices and behaviour of individuals are not simply a matter of economic optimization. This points to the need for decision-makers to be furnished with better evidence about the transport problems faced and the potential efficacy of measures that might be taken. Discussion of public attitudes and the role of the media are included in the context of assessing how politicians can be encouraged and supported in their implementation of realistic but unpopular policies. Evidence and experience within the paper are UK based, although many of the issues and arguments apply world wide. © 2004 Taylor and Francis Ltd.


Lyons, G. (2004). Transport and society. Transport Reviews, 24(4), 485-509.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2004
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2010
Publicly Available Date Nov 15, 2016
Journal Transport Reviews
Print ISSN 0144-1647
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 4
Pages 485-509
Keywords transport, society
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Paper based on inaugural lecture at UWE, Bristol -sets out the importance of and challenges arising from placing transport and travel in a socio-behavioural context and has formed the basis for the creation of the new University centre in transport studies.


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