Transport Equity Assessment: Experience, Challenges and Lessons Learnt
Ivan Tucta, Mouchel, Rajat Bose, Mouchel, Ian Baker, Mouchel
Analyse and critically evaluate equity transport assessments in three main aspects: definition of the impact, data availability and methodology from the practitioner point of view.
The key driver in determining transport investment decisions is primarily the perceived global economic benefits of the scheme. This is closely followed by the benefits to the ‘traffic’ impacted by the scheme. Previously all efforts were made towards consolidating the assessment parameters into these generalised units, permitting one to compare schemes of various sizes against each other. Over the last decade, there is a growing realisation that, similar to statistics such as GDP, these kind of assessments ignore a number of more detailed scheme impacts, especially related to equity in the distribution of the benefits of the scheme.
The Oxford dictionary defines equity as the quality of being equal or the fairness. In transport terms, equity could be understood as the distribution of positive and negative impacts of any transport intervention and if such distribution is fair and right. This would encompass impacts such as those on health, accessibility, gender, low-income groups, mobility, environment, etc. However the experiences of assessment of these social and distributional traffic impacts is limited due to the complexity of these analysis and comparatively less theoretical and academic background to support a quantitative assessment of these impacts.
The United Kingdom has recently witnesses a growing support for including these impact assessments as part of their decision making framework. Scheme promoters such as the Highways England encourages their analysis on schemes as per the national transport guidelines. These guidelines broadly cover the inter-relationship of impacts of three main sectors, i.e. social, economy and environment. Using available demographic and socio-economic data, the guidelines identifies the equity in distribution of the three impacts.
The positive aspect of promoting this analysis is a significant increase in understanding the impacts of a proposed transport scheme. This analysis of how the benefits or disbenefits of a scheme are distributed amongst the populace addresses the question of equity in the appraisal process.
However there are certain drawbacks in the current guidelines. The main issue is that there is currently some ambiguity regarding the definitions of measured parameters, scope definition of these parameters, and most importantly the availability of data to undertake these analysis. The aim of including almost all the impacts generates some complications in definitions due to the nature of the transport analysis itself, as not all impacts are exclusively demographic or social or economic or environmental. In addition, such disaggregation of analysis needs reliable and available sources which sometimes is difficult to obtain.
The intention of the paper is to analyse and critically evaluate these assessments in three main aspects: definition of the impact, data availability and methodology from the practitioner point of view. This critique will be done in some of the aforementioned positive and negative aspects of the assessment and based on the presenters’ experience.
Association for European Transport