5. Engaging stakeholders

Transport planning is conducted in a complex environment in which the views of government and community stakeholders need to be understood. Engaging stakeholders and listening to their concerns is a key component of best practice transport planning.

Engaging stakeholders and the community in problem identification, assessment and prioritisation leads to a more comprehensive process. It may identify new problems or cast new light on known problems. It can improve access to data and information and help to fill gaps in knowledge regarding community concerns and expectations.

A planning process that does not engage more broadly with stakeholders runs the risk of identifying only the best known or most acute problems. It is also more likely to address problems in isolation rather than within a broader strategic context.

The purpose of engagement during this step of the Framework is to ensure that all potential problems are identified and understood, across all planning levels. For example, a government department or agency may have a broad perspective on the problems that are impeding transport, such as regulatory barriers or funding constraints. Local residents may be much more focused in their assessment, nominating very specific problems on a particular stretch of road or intersection as compromising safety.

Where appropriate and practical, community engagement around problem identification and prioritisation can also help to develop trust in the early stages of a transport plan or initiative and create networks and structures to identify, prevent and solve problems on an ongoing basis.

TOOLKIT Tools for engagement

Many tools can be used to identify and engage stakeholders, and ensure their views and experiences are considered in identifying and assessing problems. These include:

  • Stakeholder mapping - to identify all key stakeholders with an interest in a particular problem and the data or information they may hold
  • Strategic workshops with government stakeholders - to identify problems in a broader strategic context and understand government preferences and priorities
  • Scenario analysis with stakeholders - to identify future drivers for change and develop best and worst case scenarios that consider the interests of community, private and public sector stakeholders
  • Real time feedback from transport system users - to identify current problems and constraints that reflect the experiences and concerns of users
  • Surveys, community forums, online engagement and social media - to better understand how the broader community views particular problems and issues.

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

TOOLKIT Checklist for practitioners

What is the current or future problem?
How is the problem preventing achievement of the goals/transport system objectives?
Can the effects of the problem be measured?
What are the drivers that influence the problem?
How will the drivers of the problem change over time?
Will the problem increase gradually or will there be a step change increase?
What are the symptoms of the problem?
What are the causes of the problem?
Are there dependencies between this problem and others? Are there any other initiatives (including land use planning) under development that influence the problem?
Consider whether mapping techniques such as Investment Logic Mapping and Benefit Dependency Mapping processes may be helpful in the process of understanding the problem?