Smarter Choices WebTAG Unit – an alternative draft

We're consulting on how Smarter Choices should be handled by the Government's WebTAG appraisal process.

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If you have evidence from work you have done to promote sustainable transport through marketing and information, travel planning, walking and cycling initiatives, car sharing, bike rental or any of the many different initiatives that can be included in a Smarter Choices package, please send it to us before 11th October.

Where this document and consultation process come from

The Department for Transport (DfT) publishes a set of detailed methods called 'WebTAG' for how local authorities and other bodies appraise the costs and benefits of potential transport initiatives. The DfT first released a new Smarter Choices WebTAG Unit for consultation in November 2011.

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In January 2012 DfT officials agreed to meet with Campaign for Better Transport and a group of experts in the field of Smarter Choices who were concerned that the Unit downplayed the potential of these measures, particularly when applied in concerted packages, as happened in the Sustainable Travel Towns.

Following that meeting, these experts worked together with us to edit an alternative draft Unit, which was submitted to the DfT consultation in March 2012 along with references to a range of other evidence sources. This alternative draft was, of course, quite different from the document that the experts would have produced if working on a new Unit from first principles, but they felt that by accepting some aspects of the DfT’s approach, they would be more likely to influence the draft constructively.

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When the Unit was transferred to IN DRAFT status and published by the DfT in May 2012, we were very disappointed to see that only a minority of the suggestions we had submitted had been taken on board.

We have decided, therefore, to open up the process by publishing an updated version of our amended WebTAG Unit text and asking for more suggestions and evidence from practitioners and academics in the field of Smarter Choices, aiming to develop it more fully as an alternative draft.

Respond to our consultation

Please submit comments and further evidence to us, at the latest by 11 October 2012. The contact email address for submissions is:

Mark your emails 'Smarter Choices WebTAG consultation' so that we can easily identify your responses.

We have included some specific questions in the text of the draft Unit, but would be grateful for comments on any aspect of the guidance, not simply the issues that are raised.

Please also send any new evidence material to the DfT itself, as the WebTAG revision process remains ongoing for their official draft. The DfT contact address is:

The contributors to the draft text include:

  • Keith Buchan, Director, MTRU
  • Sally Cairns, Transport Research Laboratory and University College London
  • Andy Cope, Director of Research & Monitoring, Sustrans
  • Phil Goodwin, Emeritus Professor of Transport Policy, University College London and University of the West of England.
  • Lynn Sloman, Transport for Quality of Life

All the contributors write in their personal capacity, and the suggestions and new content in this draft do not necessarily represent the views of the institutions mentioned.

Last updated: 28 June 2013
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