Smarter Travel in Outer London: Integrated Marketing in the UK

Developed in two phases, the Smarter Travel initiative had an overall goal of decreasing the number of trips made by car in the Outer Boroughs of London, promoting walking, cycling, and public transport as alternatives. Richmond and Sutton were identified as the two Boroughs to target by program developers, but before strategies were implemented, the team reviewed comprehensive surveys on Londoners’ travel behavior and attitudes in addition to conducting telephone surveys with sample audiences from one treatment neighborhood (Sutton) and a control neighborhood (Croydon) in order to establish a baseline for the study. This, along with data collected from focus groups, allowed program developers to have a deeper understanding of peoples’ awareness of travel options, attitudes towards different modes of travel, their travel intentions, and current travel behaviors. Initial research findings also led to the identification of the program’s primary audiences (families with school-aged children and men employed in Sutton) as well as key influencing and enabling audiences (school staff, neighborhood business owners, and managers of complimentary programs). Smarter Travel organizers then developed a program that employed several different strategies, including: (1) gaining support from existing community-based organizations, schools, and workplaces that could help promote the initiative, (2) using advertising and PR to make travel mode options visible and top-of-mind, (3) tailoring messaging to address an individual’s motivations and barriers towards using a certain mode of travel, (4) making infrastructure enhancements that would address commuter concerns, and (5) engaging in face-to-face meetings with residents to assist them in developing their own travel plans. Both Sutton and Richmond used control areas for comparison throughout the study in addition to organizers comparing results to baseline data collected and data from the London Transport Demand Survey. The program utilized traffic counters, cycle counters, and weekly bus patronage data to gather information in real-time while attitudinal surveys were conducted via phone each September. Over the course of the three years Smarter Travel operated a 6% (Sutton) to 7% (Richmond) decrease in car modal share was recorded, with corresponding increases in cycling, walking and public transport.

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