Towards A Methodology To Evaluate Public Transport Projects

Lake, Maree & Ferreira, Luis (2002) Towards A Methodology To Evaluate Public Transport Projects. Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.


The document is intended to form the basis for the development of the Public Transport Evaluation (PTE) Framework, which is be used in practice by planning agencies and transport operators in Queensland. The main underlying aim is to be able to answer the question:

What does the community get for each $ spent on Public Transport (PT) projects?

The full community benefits of PT investment and recurring operating fare box subsidies are often difficult to identify and quantify, either in monetary or other units. This is mainly due to the nature of the externalities involved (eg. reduced road space requirements; reduced road based congestion, environmental impacts and energy consumption; increased access for non-car owning households; etc.). Such quantification is necessary for strategy/project evaluation and to justify investments in PT initiatives to the community at large.

Currently, the levels of consistency and uniformity in the procedures for the evaluation of road projects are not matched in the evaluation of PT projects ands strategies. The lack of a structured evaluation methodology is, in part, due to the level of complexity of impacts and affected groups. Compared to public transport, road projects tend to have fewer impacts and affect fewer groups. The complex nature of potential impacts is directly related to the range (eg. economic, financial, environmental, social; direct/indirect) and affected groups (users, non-users, as well as government and private operators).

The main benefits of a common evaluation framework include:

 Potential to improve the quality of investment and policy decisions;  Ability to compare projects across transport portfolio on a consistent basis;  Help the ‘value for money’ arguments for PT projects;  Identify affected groups and impacts;  Identify trade-offs between gainers and losers; and  Help design specific evaluation studies to assess the degree to which claimed benefits have been/are being achieved.

The framework proposed here is intended as a user-friendly spreadsheet based tool which can be used to assess individual projects or strategies within a comprehensive and consistent basis, using Queensland related evaluation parameter values where appropriate. Currently, an EXCEL based prototype for the framework has been built. The following main components make up the framework:

• Project/Strategy definition – the user specifies the project or strategy using a suggestion typology;

• Identification of impacts – the system suggests impact types likely to apply based on project definition and the user finalises impact list;

• Before & After input data (or conditions ‘with’ and ‘without’ project)– this relates to road and PT link data on volumes, patronage, speeds and other data needed for impact assessment. The affected road and PT links or segments are identified separately to allow a reasonable level of disaggregation of impacts. At this stage, the user has the option of using estimates given default values and relationships (eg; speed/flow curves to obtain estimates of delay impact on road traffic) or input his/her own estimates independently arrived at;

• Impact quantification – for each impact type, the user can opt to make use of default parameters applicable in Queensland , to quantify impacts; and

• Summary outputs are shown by main impact type to enable sensitivity analysis results to be easily compared.

Two methods are primarily used for in road and public transport project evaluation, namely: cost benefit analysis and multi-criteria analysis. For some impacts, such as equity, environmental effects and regional development, there is no consensus on their incorporation or quantification in money terms. Other issues that require careful consideration in an evaluation methodology include:

• The measure used to reflect public transport ridership. This can have a major influence on the results, since a number of the impacts are estimated on the forecast ridership estimates; • The life of the project. Some benefits are long term and hard to quantify with certainty, resulting in the evaluation being less robust as the life of the project is extended; • The implementation risk factors. Some measures, such as the likelihood of successful implementation or difficulty of construction, should be considered; • The definition of the base case and the geographic scope of the evaluation; and • The evaluation method used should not focus on a final Net Present Value (NPV) or single ‘best’ solution. This approach may exclude: non-quantifiable benefits; uncertainty in the cost and benefit estimates; and alternative weighting of the project objectives.

Thus, an evaluation methodology needs to cater for sensitivity analysis, including the impact of changes in the weighting factors for each objective.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 2494
Item Type: Report
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: evaluation framework, public transport, externalitiesl, quantification
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > CIVIL ENGINEERING (090500) > Transport Engineering (090507)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 11 Nov 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:28

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