Transport, Economic Development and Regeneration

Transport, Economic Development and Regeneration


S Canning, S Leitham, MVA Consultancy, UK; A Dobson, David Simmonds Consultancy, UK


Paper reviewing the relationship between transport, economic development and regeneration, drawing upon current theory and illustrative project work. Emphasis on the 'wider economic benefits? and distributional impacts of transport investment.


There are two main strands to this paper. One is to provide an overview of (i) current UK-based understanding of the relationship between transport and the economy, and (ii) how this is applied in the analysis and appraisal of transport schemes. The second purpose is to illustrate the above with reference to a range of studies led by MVA and David Simmonds Consultancy (DSC). Its outputs draw upon a combination of theoretical material and research conducted by MVA and DSC on a number of different projects. The theoretical review will draw on the recently released Eddington Review, which provides a comprehensive assessment of the causal links between transport investment and economic performance. References to practical research will include an overview of three studies recently led by MVA and DSC, including Eddington Study research on ?Wider Economic Impacts?, a research study into economic and transport issues affecting Ayrshire in south west Scotland, and the appraisal of the re-opening of the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link in central Scotland.

Conventional economic wisdom argues that investment in transport infrastructure, particularly in areas where existing provision is poor, will lead to an improvement in the economic performance in that area. The economic benefits of a transport scheme have traditionally been measured via cost-benefit analysis. Much of the debate over the years has been focussed on the question of whether such analysis captures all of the benefits. There is recent evidence to suggest that such investment will lead to the realisation of so-called ?wider economic benefits?. These benefits are believed to include increased agglomeration, a move to more productive employment and increased competition. However, while it is accepted that transport investment will deliver economic benefits, it has been strongly argued by some, that the economic justifications that are often used to vindicate transport investment are questionable.

Our analysis illustrates that the benefits arising from transport investment must be treated on a case-by-case basis, acknowledging the impact of specific local factors, such as labour availability, demand conditions and the local skills base. In addition, it can be argued that transport infrastructure improvements will be most effective if they are integrated with a wider package of investment in housing and business infrastructure.

In all, our paper will provide additional analysis of the issues outlined above, while our focus on project work will provide added value to the debate, thus making a contribution to the existing literature on the topic.


Association for European Transport