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Methods of Technology Assessment in Transport (SVI 2000/443)

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Transport mode
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Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects,
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The present study was based on the preliminary study on technology assessment (TA) which was completed in 1999. It took a closer look at the procedural and methodological aspects, and applies the TA instrument to three topical case studies.


The main aims of the investigation were:

(1) to develop a framework for Technology Assessment (TA), an instrument which is still little known in the transport sector,

(2) to apply this to three specific case studies and to modify it on the basis of the experience gained from them, and

(3) to use this work to develop recommendations for the implementation of TA
projects in the transport sector.

The following themes were covered in the research work:

  • profile and use of TA in transport
  • development of a framework for TA studies in transport
  • application of TA in three case studies covering topical problems
  • finding answers to central questions on methods and procedures
  • recommendations on ways for carrying out TA studies in transport.

Case studies:

  • TA study on traffic access systems (including delivery traffic) in urban agglomerations (case study l)
  • TA for daily holiday traffic in winter tourism (case study ll)
  • TA on video enforcement in road traffic (case study Ill) 


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


  • The procedures and methods used in the case studies (morphological boxes, scenario techniques, focus groups, European Awareness Scenario Workshop, round-table discussions etc.) have all thoroughly proved their value. The participatory procedures in particular brought out important additional understandings concerning the shape of any eventual solution, the opportunities and risks, and problems with the acceptability of applications of new technology.
  • Given the positive results from the round table, the scenario workshop and the focus groups, an increase in the application of participation-based procedures in transport TA is to be strived for. Participatory Instruments bring in the viewpoint of those affected (bottom-up approach) and support the creation of public awareness of problems related to transport. This process is much more urgent in the transport sector, since almost every citizen is an actor in it (in contrast to gene technology, for example).
  • The implementation of the three case studies has shown that valuable new understandings on new technological applications can be gained, even with limited resources.
  • It was  recommended to use  the theme  grid which was developed as part of the investigation to assess the need for TA for a transport-related problem and for the defnition of a TA study.
  • The general sequence (of structure, analysis, evaluation) has proved itself. However the experience gained leads to suggestions for the modification of the classic sequence, so that it can be used for questions which derive from problems and technology. Given the diversity of possible TA investigations in the transport sector, no further degree of standardisation or even the preparation of norms is recommended. This would only unnecessarily restrict the flexibility of the TA approach and the ability to focus on the main points.
  • There is no ideal methodical way for TA in transport. The open setting of objectives in TA, as well as the range of themes and applications, all call for a large variety of methods. Often, different methods are used in the three TA phases. In each individual case, the method used must be selected after taking into consideration the various problems concerned. We recommend the criteria catalogue presented in the study as a way of selecting the method to be used. In TA in particular, the methods applied must guarantee that the work is comprehensible and transparent to the layman as well as to the

    Other results

    Need for further research:
    In principle the need for applying TA to current problems (such as road pricing, E-commerce, automatisation in transport, infrastructure and capacity etc.) is greater than the real need for research into TA procedures and methods. The following additional research themes were identified:

    • development of suitable procedures for weighting processesdevelopment of suitable procedures for diffusion models and forecasts for new technologies
    • comparative evaluation of participatory processes in the transport sector
    • possibilities and applications of scenarios in TA investigations
    • analysis of the relationship between technology development and user behaviour in transport
    • development and improvement of models which can reflect and forecast system-dynamic developments


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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