Valuing the Social Impact of Bus Travel



Valuing the Social Impact of Bus Travel

Authors

Jo Baker, Mott MacDonald Ltd, Andrew Gordon, Mott MacDonald, Mark Wardman, University Of Leeds

Description

Current transport appraisal guidance from the UK Department for Transport divides the impact of a transport scheme into three broad categories: economic, environmental and social. Where possible these impacts are monetised. This is particularly true of economic impacts, but some environmental and social impacts are also monetised.

This paper describes a project for the Department for Transport that seeks to estimate monetary values for the social benefits of bus service provision. The starting point for this is that the social benefit of bus travel comes from the activities that travellers undertake at the destination of their trip, not in the act of travelling itself.

Abstract

Social issues sit alongside economic and environmental constraints as one of the three pillars of sustainability.

The need to undertake economic appraisal in support of investment is well understood. Increasingly the importance of environmental appraisal has been recognised: particularly as a response to Carbon reduction targets. The need to prioritise social impacts has been complicated by the difficulty in quantifying social benefits.

In the UK, current transport appraisal guidance from the Department for Transport, as set out in WebTAG, divides the impact of a transport scheme into three broad categories: economic, environmental and social.

This paper describes a project for the Department for Transport that seeks to estimate monetary values for the social benefits of bus service provision. The starting point for this is that the social benefit of bus travel comes from the activities that travellers undertake at the destination of their trip, not in the act of travelling itself. The aim is therefore to estimate the benefit of these activities, while taking account of what bus users would do if bus were not available.

The paper discusses the three stages of the project. The first stage combined a literature review covering alternative approaches to the quantification of social impacts which established the non-availability of any readily adoptable data. This led to the development of a stated preference methodology that would enable us to estimate values for the social impacts.

The second stage comprised initial fieldwork – three focus groups and a pilot of the stated preference survey. These enable a robust review of the methodology and contributed significant guidance for the design of the eventual research.

The third stage comprised the main fieldwork of 600 stated preference interviews, followed by analysis of the results. The analysis of the data provided a set of monetary values for the social benefit per bus trip. This was supported by suggestions as to how such values may be used in the future.

Disclaimer: Although this project was commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT), the contents of the abstract and paper do not necessarily represent the views of the DfT. The work described is currently unpublished.

Publisher

Association for European Transport