Towards a Comphrensive Measurement Tool for the Assessment of Sustainability: a Multiattribute Approach, Behavioural Insights and Policy Implications

Towards a Comphrensive Measurement Tool for the Assessment of Sustainability: a Multiattribute Approach, Behavioural Insights and Policy Implications


K Donegan, A Smyth, TRINIC, The Queen's University Belfast, UK



The impact of increasing levels of transport activity on the environment is one of the most significant challenges for sustainable development. Increased affluence, greater indirect effects as well as direct and indirect network effects:
* Direct effects are related to transport users, operators, neighbours, who are directly affected by transport investments and policies.
* Direct network effects occur with the transport system. These effects are related to not directly affected transport users, operators or other concerned people. These persons are affected by the behavioural changes of directly effected transport users, etc.

Both types of these effects occur as changes in the transport behaviour (route-choice, travel-time, destination-choice, travel costs, etc.), but also as changes in operation costs, investment costs, emissions, noise, etc.

Additionally, the special focus of this project is to additionally investigate so called indirect effects and indirect network effects:
* Indirect effects (third-party effects, socio-economic effects): These effects are long term effects which occur in other markets than the transport system. They are caused by the changes in accessibility and other effects transmitted throughout the transport network and are leading to changes in the labour market (employment effects), product market, health and environmental situation, urban regeneration, economic development etc.
* The indirect network effects are caused by the changes in indirect or third party effects and occur in the transport system. Changes in the labour market, product market and attractiveness of the city are influencing the transport demand again. This transport demand produces changes in the traffic flows, which are generated through these other markets.

(3.3) System elements in relationship to infrastructure investments

Beside the transport infrastructure investment itself three other system elements have to be considered if measuring these socio-economic effects:

Firstly, one has to consider the local socio-economic potentials as follows: What is the given attractiveness of the location (Landscape, cultural setting, noise levels etc.)? Who is already there (type of inhabitants, businesses, service facilities)? What is the level of land prices and local taxes? What is the possible function of the area in relation to the entire city? Is there a potential for further economic development that can be better used if only accessibility is improved?

Secondly, one has to consider the general economic situation at the time of the development and realisation of the transport policy measure. The economic context, especially the general investment climate, defines the demand for land use development.

Thirdly there is a necessity for insight into local actor involvement and pertinent political and institutional determinants. For example, are there any formulated strategies and development scenarios that are implemented by means of urban governance? Also, what is the role of public authorities, decision-makers, business circles and other interest groups in developing land along traffic corridors? Positive spatial effects may rely on early co-ordination between different policies such as spatial planning, traffic, environment, finances, and social policy. They may also need co-operation between different governmental and non-governmental actors. In this context, important determinants are the personal and institutional capacities to act, available resources Thus the project approach is not concentrated on the normal transport-related socio-economic impacts (e.g. modal split changes, time savings, environmental and safety benefits, revenues and financial concerns).

(3.1) The investment and the time scale

The life-cycle of a transport infrastructure investment can be classified in the following phases:
* The planning, evaluation and design phase; during that phases the political decision is made;
* The construction phase;
* The operation phase.

The planning and evaluation phase of a potential infrastructure investment normally provides an estimation of its forecasted quantitative and qualitative effects. This helps decision makers to start or to reject the project. The estimation consists normally of cost benefit calculations and descriptions of other societal benefits. In order to make a positive decision to invest (the decision to start the transport infrastructure investment) more positive than negative effects and expectations need to be existing. The investment must be seen as beneficial for the city supporting the transport and mobility policy of society.

The direct effects and impacts of the construction phase can be negative for the use of (public) transport system, if the construction work hinders the use of public transport (lack of service, poor replacement services, poor temporary connections etc.). The effects can be seen, e.g. in passenger statistics and in general opinions collected (e. g. complaints) concerning the construction phase. The construction phase can change the modal split at least temporarily if the former users of public transport shift to private car use (more private car users in the area where the construction work is done). From a marketing and public acceptability point of view, there is a need for minimising the negative impacts of any new transport system during the construction phase.

As TranSEcon is focused on the investigation of socio-economic effects and impacts, the influence of the different phases on these effects have to be particularly considered. Transport policy measures, especially infrastructure investments, can have an effect on real estate development at different phases of the infrastructure investment life cycle. Decisions for private investments can occur long before a political decision is taken on the infrastructure investment, during construction or after start of operation.

The reasons for such anticipating, stepwise or retarded private reaction on infrastructure investment may be that not all real estate developers assess investment risks in the same way, and that local or general economic contexts of private investment show certain cycles as well. It is common knowledge that infrastructure investment cycles and private investment cycles often do not have the same rhythm. Monitoring of socio-economic effects of transport infrastructure and policy measurers must take account of such interference.

(3.2) Four groups of possible effects

All effects caused by an infrastructure investments can be distinguished in direct and seen as a case study that helps to answer the more comprehensive question about the possibility of cross-European learning processes in the field of land use and transport planning. A second paragraph of conclusions is therefore dedicated to this more comprehensive perspective.


Association for European Transport