The Wider Economic Benefits of Transport

Macro-, Meso- and Micro-Economic Transport Planning and Investment Tools

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The standard cost-benefit analysis of transport infrastructure investment projects weighs a project’s costs against users’ benefits. This approach has been challenged on the grounds that it ignores wider economic impacts of such projects. At this International Transport Forum Round Table, leading academics and practitioners addressed these concerns and examined a range of potential approaches for evaluating wider impacts – negative as well as positive. They concluded that for smaller projects, it is better to focus on timely availability of results, even if this means forgoing sophisticated analysis of wider impacts. For larger projects or investment programs, customized analysis of these effects is more easily justifiable. Creating consistent appraisal procedures is a research priority.

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Agglomeration Economies and Transport Investment

International Transport Forum

This paper is concerned with the links between agglomeration, productivity and transport investment. If improvements in transport systems give rise to changes in the mass of economic activity accessible to firms, for instance by reducing travel times or the costs of travel, then they can induce positive benefits via agglomeration economies. The paper presents empirical results from an econometric analysis of the relationship between productivity and accessibility to economic activity for different sectors of the UK economy. The results show that agglomeration economies do exist and that they can be substantial, particularly for services. Furthermore, the effect of agglomeration externalities is not trivial when considered in the context of transport appraisal. Initial calculations typically indicate additions to conventional user benefits of 10%-20% arising from increasing returns to economic mass.

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