How Urban Transport Projects are Appraised: Common Practice in the European Union and Future Directions

European Union (EU) countries utilise some of the most advanced project appraisal practices worldwide, but still struggle to consider environmental and social benefits. The integration of sustainable transport initiatives and demand management (TDM) techniques as part of road investment has potential to significantly improve cost-benefit ratios. Fulfilling the potential to maximise return on investment requires some fundamental changes to the appraisal processes. This paper sets out current practices and identifies key opportunities to improve the economic benefits of future road schemes. Project appraisal is usually supported by decision support tools such as cost-benefit analysis (CBA) or multi-criteria analysis (MCA). These can be used to measure (ex-ante and/or ex-post) the potential or observed impacts of different policy options and assist decision-makers to select appropriate policies. Sustainable transport measures (including TDM) can affect a range of policy objectives. To guide policy decisions and implementation, thorough advice on the potential costs, benefits and overall impacts of urban transport measures can be vital. The concept of evidence-based decision-making also plays an important role in developing integrated transport solutions. Robust assessments of the socio-economic benefits of transport investments can unlock investment funding, and in doing so facilitate implementation of sustainable urban mobility measures. Whereas sustainable urban transport appraisal is a complex process, appraisal of individual measures and initiatives is common practice. This paper will convey a better understanding of: i) The challenge in determining a project’s viability, and ii) The role that impact assessments (most commonly CBAs) play in decision-making. CBAs and other appraisal methods favour traditional transport investments over integrated projects, or discourage the inclusion of complementary sustainable transport measures within road projects. Wider socio-economic and environmental benefits are more difficult to quantify than direct economic benefits, for which reason CBAs rarely encapsulate the full range of externalities and soft effects. Many transport initiatives are often small-scale and focus on reducing external costs. For these potentially highly cost-effective small-scale projects, CBAs might be too expensive, e.g. due to the quantification and monetisation of externalities. However, bundling of transport measures/initiatives would maximise socio-economic benefits and could ease the burden. The paper will therefore posit a number of key hypotheses: 1) Current impact assessment practice does not necessarily lead to the selection of measures offering the best value for money; and 2) Sustainable transport measures may deliver significant benefits for society and high value for money, but their implementation is inhibited by difficulties in assessing their socio-economic value.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: 14p
  • Monograph Title: Proceedings of the 25th World Road Congress - Seoul 2015: Roads and Mobility - Creating New Value from Transport

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01670592
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9782840604235
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 0107
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 18 2018 8:18PM