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Interactions between Transport and Economy

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
SVI 1999/310
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

This project is part of the multi-yearly programme 1999/302 of the Commission 'Research in Road Transport'.

This commission belongs to the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (UVEK).


This research project aims to demonstrate the short and longer-term interactions between transport and economy.

The second objective is to develop a target and indicator system to measure the economic impact of transport projects. The target and indicator system is based on the concept of sustainability. The 'economy' refers not only to the impact on individual firms at the microeconomic level but also to the macroeconomic impact in terms of employment, income and growth.

At the end, the target and indicator system is put to the test using the A7 (motorway junction linking the A1 in Winterthur with the canton of Thurgau) as a case study.


Firstly, the interactions between transport and the economy are analysed. The starting point is a hypothetical change in the transport system. This change can produce several effects in the short and the medium/long run including the variety of possible adjustment and feedback effects.

The following two approaches are applied in current research to measure these effects:

  • the macroeconomic approach which estimates the influence of transport infrastructure on economic development (e.g. of GDP) using statistical, mainly econometric, procedures but without resorting to a comparison of costs and benefits;

  • the microeconomic approach which uncovers the individual economic effects of improved transport provision and are based on the effects on individual road users, firms and households (cost-benefit analysis) and which can be extrapolated for the entire economy.

Based on the analysis of these effects, a target and indicator system to uncover the economic effects of infrastructural or organisational change to the transport system was developed. This is guided by the concept of sustainability in which a development can be deemed sustainable if it is environmentally friendly, efficiently meets economic needs and is socially equitable (three-circle model).


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Private foundation
Institution Name
Association of Transportation Engineers
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


1. Results on: Interactions between transport and the economy (Macro- and Microeconomic Analysis) This analysis has shown that distributional effects should be considered in addition to the impact on the economy. This concerns distribution among individual regions (development of the economic centre compared to other regions), as well as within certain economic groups (e.g. among users of the transport infrastructure or among property owners).

Here too, we found that there are no simple answers. Whether a region benefits from improved transport links mainly depends on:

- Other location factors (land prices, supply of workers and employment opportunities, educational opportunities etc.)

- Intensity of competition in the local economy

- Transport intensity of the local economy.

Empirical research sets down certain rules of thumb for typical situations (e.g. strong economic centre – economically weak peripheral region). In relation to jobs, the migratory and competitive effects of new transport infrastructures are often underestimated for peripheral regions.


2. Results from: Economic dimension of transport sustainability: a target and indicator system In those municipalities that benefited most from the improved accessibility provided by the A7, there were no significant effects for the majority of indicators (land and real estate costs, income, population). Only the number of jobs appeared to be positively influenced by this project. The results correspond largely to those of other case studies. According to a survey of over 500 firms, proximity to the motorway is deemed only moderately relevant to the economic advantages of a given geographical location. Firms in the region of infrastructure project place greater importance on this factor than those in the rest of the canton of Thurgau. To conclude, a usable economic indicator system that is also compatible with the ZINV-NEREC and the NISTRA systems was developed and successfully tested. This research project established important guidelines for the determination of (regional) economic effects. Of course, we cannot fully solve the fundamental problem that the effects studied are complex, that the causal link to particular transport projects is difficult to establish, and that it is therefore particularly hard to predict the future impacts of new transport projects. However, the literature and the case study show clearly that better transport links do not necessarily imply


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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