Project: Summer Placement 05 - Policy and Planning for City Centre Evening, Nighttime and Weekend Economies, Entertainment and Transport Needs

Reference: STP 8/11/17

Last update: 19/08/2009 16:25:08


To review and present the range of policies, regulatory restrictions, and practical measures currently in place aimed at serving the needs of a city centre night-time economy.

From the review, identify significant differences between the aims of policy and/or regulation and the actual provision of services to meet weekend evening needs. To review the potential for mismatch between existing policy.


The research concentrates on the supply and delivery of transport in urban environments, specific to the needs of accessing leisure facilities, particularly weekend evening and night time use of transport, and recognises a possible disconnect between large, and increasing, numbers of city users, and a reduction in the supply of public transport services late at night. As such the proposal looks at issues arising in the department's aims (i. - Improvement of Public Transport), objectives (delivery of inclusive mobility), and attempts to link disparate elements of transport provision including transport by taxi (often overlooked in strategic transport texts), and the interaction between traditional public transport, taxi transport and urban planning and city centre management policies. The work is not focused on a city specific solution, but on the underlying concept of service optimisation in medium and large metropolitan cities.

The study will investigate and present an evidence based policy paper to include: definition of perceived and actual problems in access/egress to leisure activities, a review of the issues arising, the impacts of such gaps, and on whom these impact. The study would recommend areas where action may be appropriate, either directly, or in the form of further assessment.


Napier University
TRI Marine Research Group, Sighthill court, Edinburgh, EH11 4BN
0131 455 3459

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £15,000.00

Actual start date: 27 June 2005

Actual completion date: 31 August 2005


Policy and Planning for City Centre Evening, Night time and Weekend Economies, Entertainment and Transport Needs
Author: James Cooper
Publication date: 03/10/2005

Summary of results

  1. The use of the city, its interactions and economic viability, depend upon myriad factors, interactions between people, availability and attractiveness of services, and extent of access available. Transport plays a role in the provision of access, and egress from a city, on which businesses rely to attract and serve customers. Transport also plays a role in facilitating the social interactions of a city, whether this is the provision of infrastructure to drive to friends and relatives, or the public modes used to access and travel home from night time entertainment. Within the past decade, the use of the city has developed and advanced from a place of work typified by large commuting patterns, to an attractive destination in its own right for entertainment, leisure activities, and evening revelry. The choices between an evening 'flight to the suburbs' or participation in a city centre 24 hour economy being observed and documented in relation to many UK cities. Along with the inherent changes in individual behaviour consistent with increasing city centre night time activities, it is possible to observe a relationship between the policies affecting transport and the use of the city. Transport needs change with the expansion of the city at night, as do the interactions between transport and the communities served. Each interaction alters both the nature of transport provided, and the types of services, perception and delivery, available in the night time economy. This study sets out to investigate the nature of interactions specific to the operation of the Night Time Economy (NTE) specific to medium sized cities in the UK. The study seeks to define the scale and scope of interaction within the NTE, identifying relationships between activities and the provision of transport services. The work further considers the impacts of these interactions on the provision of transport, and the relationship between policies impacting on the provision of transport, and the operation of the city at night. The study identified four areas of potential conflict. The first where differences between the day and night time impacts of the same policy exist; secondly those arising as a result of mutually exclusive actions, such as high levels of security and the desire to promote a welcoming and inclusive transport; the third arising from differing uses of the city; and fourthly those arising as a result of boundary conflict, including boundaries between the interests of differing departments and between department and local authorities.

    The study concludes that the Night Time Economy is broadly underplayed in the development of transport policy, a majority of policies being constructed to meet the needs of the day time city resulting in the potential for conflict. The reduced emphasis on the night time city can exacerbate the issues surrounding transport in the night time economy, particularly that of travelling home from entertainment. The work forwards recommendations that set out methods by which transport policies and their implementation may be developed to optimise policies and their effectiveness.

    The development of transport policies appropriate to the needs of all transport users is a significant factor in ensuring appropriate development of services into the future, and facilitating economic growth and social interaction. The needs of a night time economy do not necessarily mirror the needs of the daytime city, and the danger arises that policies drafted to meet the needs of the daytime economy may fail to meet the aspirations of the night time city or, at worst, work against the needs of the night time economy. Issues in the provision of daytime transport, most particularly congestion, access restrictions and a desire to promote certain forms of public transport are far less likely to apply with the same weight in the night time economy, where private car use is reduced, congestion minimal and most public transport unavailable. Equally the delivery of transport as exists during the night may not be appropriate to the needs of the day. It would appear beneficial to develop policies specific to the needs of night as well as daytime use of the city, and to ensure that transport policies being developed in one arena are positive to the activities of the other.

    Transport Policy Interaction - It is desirable that transport policies take account of the full range of their impacts, in both day time and night time economies. Tools are required, including a standard method of assessing impacts arising from policy application across temporal as well as spatial boundaries, establishing individual impacts as well as corporate effects.

    Wider Policy Interactions - The interactions apparent within the night time economy are not limited to the effects of transport on its environment (and vice versa), but include interactions between transport policies and those of other government departments. Where a transport policy is identified as impacting on the NTE, it would also be advantageous to identify what, if any, interaction exists between that policy, and those of other departments.

    The development of a standard framework for testing and reviewing impacts on the night time city is seen as desirable and a principal recommendation of this study. The aim of enhancing assessment to be to identify potential areas of interaction (and conflict), and increase the extent to which successful policies are designed be aware and to take account of needs in the night time economy. Two tools are proposed. The first tool comprises a framework for determining impacts of new transport policies on the night time economy, whether an impact exists, and in which domain. This tool is envisaged to include a simple pass fail criteria assessment determining whether impacts exist in the night as well as daytime arenas. The second is an additional element within the existing Regulatory Impact Assessment designed to quantify the extent of impacts in policies currently being developed, and to allow by reference to impact scores, future policy makers to establish quickly and easily the existence of policies that may influence their policies in development. The domains for testing in framework and impact assessment would ideally be the same.

    Holistic Approaches to night time transport Transport issues specific to the night, and to a lesser extent at other times of day, tend to be addressed within a subject specific framework, usually around a mode of transport. The lack of a fully inclusive assessment may act against the interest of the travelling public.

    A further recommendation relates to the development of a Holistic Framework is proposed, seeking to determine the effect of changes in one domain on the output of others. The development of combined analysis specific to the policies concerning supply would be particularly beneficial in increasing accessibility and facilitating transport home from entertainment and revelry.

    While the main recommendations of this study relate to the development of cross modal assessment (holistic review of supply), and the development of policy assessment tools (cross policy application to NTE), a number of mode specific issues have been highlighted in the study, recommendations specific to these set out below.

    . Bus Modes The development of a review identifying the relative importance of barriers to use of bus modes would focus the development of initiatives in night time bus transport, including the fine tuning of policies appropriate to increasing security, both in terms of extent of application, and location.
    . Bus Related Modes Flexible concepts include discrete (single user group) or composite (like user groups), and may allow for adoption of demand responsive or flexible modes, particularly aimed at travel to specified destinations, streets and house numbers in destination 'areas'. The development of best practice guidance specific to flexible night time transport would encourage and 'mainstream' concepts proven successful in a small number of cities across the UK. The associated development of distinct 'operating patterns', and data supporting their assessment would act to increase the potential for development in these areas.
    . Taxi Modes A number of issues are highlighted in the development of the mode, restriction of numbers of licenses, and the distinction between hackney and private hire. The review of best practice, currently in development by the department, appears timely and appropriate. In addition to current experience, it would be desirable to set out detailed assessment of impacts arising from differing forms of regulatory control, particularly focusing on the relationships between such control, the form of the market (dual or single tier system), and the control of fares (Tariff reviews). Ideally this would include guidance on the effectiveness of the existing definitions of Significant Unmet Demand, which currently appear ambiguous in measurement and lack a defendable standard methodology, and the relationship between the concepts of a set number of licenses, tariff and customer satisfaction/service quality levels. Dual and Single tier systems appear confusing, and in some instances may work against the public interest. Detailed argument of the desirability of dual or single tier systems would also be appropriate to the future development of the mode.