Building a European Transport Policy Information System

Building a European Transport Policy Information System


L Klautzer and A Rahman, RAND Europe, NL


This paper describes a transport policy information system providing information on transport in the EU25. ETIS has three elements: a reference database; a software environment; and an organizational framework for maintenance and further development.


The basis of good transport policy is good information. Unfortunately, the available data for addressing policy issues with a European dimension is limited, and quality questionable. This state of affairs exists for three reasons: 1) the abolition of borders removed a reliable source of data for intra-EU transport flows, 2) the legal requirements for National Statistical Offices (NSOs) to supply transport data to EUROSTAT represent a bare minimum, and 3) the data collected by NSOs for national purposes is collected using different formats and methods making cross-border comparisons very difficult. Thus, getting a complete, consistent, and accurate picture of developments in the transport sector is both expensive and time-consuming.

The European Commission funded three projects to address these shortcomings. The three projects ETIS-AGENT, ETIS-BASE and ETIS-LINK developed a pilot version of a European Transport policy Information System (ETIS). ETIS has three elements: 1) a reference database that includes data, indicators, and meta-data for passenger and freight transport in the EU25 pus Norway and Switzerland, 2) a software tool accessing, retrieving, analyzing data, submitting queries, maintaining and updating of the data that is included in the system, and 3) an organizational framework and roadmap for maintaining the system, providing support, and eventually expanding the system.

The reference database includes seven data sets covering: freight demand, passenger demand, freight service and costs, passenger service and costs, networks, external effects, and socio-economic data. The data in the reference data set comes from several sources, including: EUROSTAT (New Cronos, COMEXT), international organizations such as the UNECE, CAFT, and UIC, national sources (Ministries of Transport), transport operators, port authorities, and project results (TEN-STAC). This data is validated and harmonized; and gaps in the data are filled with modelled estimates before being included in the reference database.

The indicators in the reference database are grouped into seven policy domains (e.g., mobility, optimal use of capacities, intermodality/interoperability, and accessibility) covering more than 20 policy issues (e.g. increase terminal utilisation, reduce fatalities and injuries, eliminate bottlenecks and reduce congestion). In the pilot version of ETIS, the indicators (e.g. demand/capacity for road links to airports, emissions on networks by road modes, proportion of freight that is unitized) were chosen to support the analysis of the European Commission?s TEN-T policies.

Finally, the reference database includes meta-data describing the indicators, data variables, methods and models used in the construction of the database to help users in data discovery and in understanding the data itself.

The web-based software environment has three elements: 1) a user interface, 2) a Geographical Information System (GIS), and 3) a data warehouse. The user interface helps users to easily and simply access, retrieve, download, and analyze the data to respond to policy queries. The GIS can display data and query results on maps. Finally, the data warehouse stores the reference database and any other database that one would like to include in ETIS.

In addition to the technical elements involving data and software, ETIS also includes a framework for maintaining and operating the system and a roadmap for eventual expansion of the system. This framework includes, for example, guidelines for sharing and exchanging data on a bi-lateral basis, for making changes to the contents of the system, and for bringing new content into the system.

The long-term scope or so-called vision of ETIS envisages a system capable of providing users with the most up-to-date data on all transport related questions. ETIS intends to do this by providing remote access to dispersed data sources, automatically updating the reference database, and eventually providing forecasts (and the models for making these forecasts) of the future. Such a system would minimize the costs and time needed for harmonizing and updating information. The pilot version of ETIS clearly demonstrates the feasibility of realizing this vision, but much remains to be done.


Association for European Transport