Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Urban transportation to keep pace with socio-economic development and increasing car ownership

Urban transport policies and investments are implemented on the basis of urban transport planning and management and therefore their evaluation is usually linked to performance in terms of transport operations (e.g. travel-speed, time-savings, travel-safety, investments and operation costs) and environmental aspects. However, urban transport policies and investments may have wider socio-economic impacts and effects not only along the corridor or within the areas that are designed to serve, but throughout the city-region and through time. Therefore it is necessary to carry out research in evaluating these socio-economic impacts and effects stemming from urban transport policies and investments which are not covered by a traditional cost-benefit analysis.

The main expected technical achievements of the Transecon project was to provide evidence regarding the social and economic impacts and effects of urban transport investments and policies (so called 'indirect effects and impacts' as indirect network effects), in order to inform city authorities in their transport and related policy development and infrastructure planning, as well as to support relevant EU policies, with the emphasis put on long term effects.

In general, the project hypothesis of expected third party effects of large scale infrastructure investments is confirmed as much as there is a clear:

- stimulation of socio-economic development in areas of improved accessibility;
- stimulation of re-urbanisation dependent on the potential development;
- potential of decentralisation of housing (spatial diffusion) and centralisation of shopping.

It can be said that the methodological approach was successful, but there are some limitations of the interpretation as the data availability and data quality was limited.

Efficiency of transport infrastructure projects

The efficiency of the investigated transport infrastructure projects shows great variance, revealing major differences in efficiency depending on the relevant public transport category (underground, suburban railway and tram). The following conclusions can be made in general:

- When decision on traffic policy are taken, greater priority should be given to the efficiency of investments. It is overriding importance that cost/benefit ratio is carefully weighted and that indirect effects are also considered.
- As a general rule, investments in surface public transport with priority route are more efficient than investments in underground public transport.
- Investment in light rail systems are more cost efficient than investments in conventional railways.
- Improvements of existing rail routes, respectively the reuse of existing routes (for instance suburban railways) are more efficient than newly built routes.
- Investments in bicycle traffic with inter-modal interfaces (e. g. bike and ride) are highly efficient.

Regional economic effect

- The direct multiplier effect of transport infrastructure investment costs (public transport and bicycle) for the regional gross domestic product is 2,2 on average (range 1,9 - 2,5), and for the regional income 1,4 on average (range 1,2 - 1,6).
- The multiplier effect of total investment costs (including follow up investments) for the regional gross domestic product is up to 6 for public transport investments.
- The additional employment effect of infrastructure investment per EUR million is between 25 - 32 persons additionally employed per year.
- The size of additional employment is not influenced by the different project types.
- Changes within the transport system factors of success in increasing the demand towards the new project as much as possible are firstly to introduce accompanying measures for public transport infrastructure investments, e.g.
- park-and-ride
- bike-and-ride
- information & marketing
- integrated fare-, ticket-, service-, timetable-, network system etc.

Secondly to support the public transport infrastructure investment by restrictive car-policy measures: e.g.

- parking fees
- reduction of lane capacity and parking facilities
- access restrictions
- road or congestion pricing.

Urban regeneration

Large scale transport infrastructure investments can stimulate re-urbanisation developments. Preconditions for use of potential re-urbanisation development are:

- substantial increase of accessibility and demand;
- no other sites which are more competitive (in such cases, retarded developments can be observed);
- availability of land or buildings for new developments ('brown fields' a public land management policy is needed);
- willingness and capability of public authorities to invest in public space (organisational and financial framework);
- local economic situation: demand for new space in offices, housing, etc.;
- local climate for re-urbanisation which is based on an appropriate institutional and political framework).

Economic and spatial development

Public transport investment can cause substantial changes of land use patterns (spatial sprawl, re-urbanisation, commercial concentration, etc.) in the catchment area of the station whereas bicycle investments indicate support of residential land use in central areas. The improvement of public transport and car accessibility in outer regions of conurbation stimulates migration from the city centre in the outer city regions (if land is available). The improvement of public transport accessibility in built up areas within a conurbation can stimulate follow up investments in the catchment area of stations. Investment by local commerce and industry are increasing the land prices and support the outward migration of residents. The strength of the socio-economic development caused by public transport infrastructure investment is dependent on the local economic framework and competition of other potential development sites.

In order to maximise the social-economic benefit of a large scale infrastructure investment, factors of success are:

- - existence of a competent regional authority, which has the vision and power for carrying forward the project (often a person with a strong personality - so-called 'project champion') is the driving force behind a successful project;
- existence of a comprehensive transport policy, some times stimulated by a huge transport problem or clear and convincing transport objectives to follow;
- existence of a consistent program of measures: promotion of environmental friendly modes, supporting intermodality (bike-and-ride, park-and-ride), car restrictions, parking management, capacity reduction, traffic calming, marketing, etc.;
- intensive co-operation between transport authorities, city authorities, land-use authorities, developers, private businesses and developers; an appropriate organisational framework is supporting such co-operation;
- co-operation with other transport operators (from the users' point of view public transport must be an integrated mobility service system), again an organisational framework can support such co-operation;
- early and well organised consultation and participation with stakeholders: transport-users, motorists, local businesses, residents, institutional representatives, etc.;
- national and European funding may give long-term benefit in certain cases but should not be limited to a specific type of public transport mode. Funding should be dependent on the efficiency of an investment project.

Reported by

University for Bodenkultur
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