Adapting strategic niche management for evaluating radical transport policies – the case of the Durham Road Access Charge Scheme

Transport systems in the UK are facing severe problems of congestion, rising energy use and pollution. One response to this is the move from local authorities to gradually introduce Travel Demand Management (TDM)1 strategies, but these measures involve a complicated set of institutions, processes, people and procedures. The old road-building transport policy regime involved a relatively simple system of actors and processes around which expertise, knowledge, and skills had built up over many decades. TDM policies involve a larger, different and more complex system of institutions, processes, people and procedures. The result of this is particularly evident for more radical demand management measures (such as congestion charging, workplace parking fees and high occupancy vehicle lanes), which often get held up or discarded due to controversy, disagreements, unanticipated problems, and a whole host of delaying factors. If they ever get implemented, they tend to be watered-down and consequently less effective. One potential way to analyse these problems and identify possible solutions is the use of Strategic Niche Management (SNM). SNM is rooted in organisational innovation diffusion theory and provides a structure to evaluate and manage the introduction of new and innovative transport technologies. This paper introduces Strategic Niche Management and explores transferring this technique for evaluating TDM policy measures. The resulting technique is applied retrospectively to the case of the Durham Road Charging scheme, selected as an example for this paper.