Abstract This paper investigates the practical and theoretical advantages of collaborative stakeholder (CSD) dialogue over adversarial processes in facilitating better transport policy choices. CSD is an emergent governance procedure that is increasingly advocated by practitioners and researchers as a practical means of counterbalancing the asymmetry of interests in public policy making. In CSD, participants that represent the full diversity of interdependent organised interests in the issue at stake engage in collaborative dialogue to find a consensus on the way forward. In order to improve the process and application of CSD in transport it is important to systematically compare this procedure to the conventional adversarial style of stakeholder interaction in the transport policy process. To do so this paper builds on a governance framework that allows the comparison of the collaborative and adversarial pathways with regards to their potential to facilitate better transport policy choices. The paper concludes by proposing CSD as a tool to de-politicise stakeholder discussions and so enable a shift away from the traditionally narrow priority of transport policy making to facilitate economic growth to a broader focus that better integrates environmental, social and economic considerations. It also concludes that CSD is most appropriate in problem situations with high levels of conflict between competing stakeholder groups that all have influence.