5. Engaging stakeholders and the public

Transport system decisions are made within a complex environment in which the views of government and community stakeholders need to be understood. Stakeholder engagement processes are a key component of all steps of transport assessment and planning.

Engaging stakeholders and the public early in the development of transport plans and initiatives is good practice. It improves the robustness of planning processes, promotes better working relationships and can lead to the identification of new issues, challenges and opportunities.

Engagement at this first step of the Framework ensures that stakeholders have a say in the overall direction of the development of the transport system. It also assists in ensuring that proposed initiatives do not finish up being unrealistic, that are not supported by other levels of government or critical stakeholders, or that have the potential to cause significant community concern and anxiety.

Collaboration with internal government stakeholders can be vital to reaching consent on the strategic issues facing transport, developing achievable objectives and framing realistic options. Engaging the public can allay community concerns about transport plans and initiatives, give local communities a say in their design and development, and identify new options and opportunities that planners may not have considered. Importantly, it can help to build public trust in proposed initiatives and the processes, people and agencies associated with them.

The results of stakeholder and community engagement should inform the iterative process of defining goals, transport system objectives and targets. Processes need to be in place to ensure this ‘feedback loop’ occurs.

Box 4 Tools for engagement

Many tools can be used to identify and engage stakeholders, and ensure their views are considered in defining objectives and targets for transport. These include:

  • Stakeholder mapping - to identify all key stakeholders with an interest in a particular issue or initiative and their likely concerns
  • Workshops with government stakeholders - to align objectives with broader goals and develop realistic objectives and targets
  • Early engagement with agencies that are part of a formal approvals process - to ensure that objectives and targets align with the approvals process (such as environmental, cultural heritage or noise approvals) and do not require later revision
  • Issues and ‘hotspot’ summaries - to identify potential issues of concern to stakeholders and consider whether objectives should be adjusted to respond to these issues
  • Real time feedback from transport system users - to help set targets and KPIs that relate directly to the experiences and concerns of users
  • Surveys, community forums, online engagement and social media - to better understand community aspirations and concerns, and align these with goals, objectives and targets.

The extent to which any engagement tool is used will depend on many factors, including the requirements of government, the nature of the particular initiative and the time allocated to this step of the Framework.

Box 5 Checklist for practitioners

Have the relevant government goals been identified?
Have objectives been developed? Are the goals and transport system objectives ‘direction setting outcomes based’ statements? Have trade-offs between objectives been appropriately considered?
Have appropriate KPIs and targets been established?
Do the objectives and targets reflect government economic, social and environmental goals?
Does each proposed objective have at least one specific target?
Are objectives and targets integrated with goals?
Have stakeholders and the public been engaged?