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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The Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation

International Transport Forum

Economic contributions of investments of transport infrastructure are typically assessed from a microeconomic perspective, which tries to identify the link between specific transport infrastructure improvements and the productivity of specific production units. The traditional economic tool of the microeconomic perspective is cost benefit analysis (CBA), an ex ante tool which tries to capture the benefits of time and cost savings—as well as further gains from logistical improvements and facilities consolidation made possible by transport improvements—and the associated costs including external costs. The objective of this Round Table sponsored by OECD / ECMT and Boston University is to identify and move towards methods which incorporate the wider economic benefits of transport infrastructure, not typically captured in the CBA estimates of benefits and costs.

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