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Quality Indicators for Transport Systems

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

Decision-making on mode, technology and journey choices will be improved if all costs are taken into account - for a single journey, this means the direct costs (e.g. fuel and road tolls), the value of travel time, and the external costs (e.g. air pollution and climate change). Appropriate valuation methods have recently been developed, and need to be integrated into an evaluation framework to support policy-making.


QUITS aimed to:

  • identify an appropriate set of indicators and methodology for evaluating costs of alternative transport modes on individual inter-urban routes;
  • implement the above in a form of computer software;
  • validate the approach, using case studies.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


QUITS has demonstrated the viability of making a detailed bottom-up assessment of a wide range of cost factors, specific to individual journeys/routes, modes of transport, purposes, desired times of arrival and expected lengths of stay at a destination. QUITS methodology focuses on modal comparison, and is therefore useful for benchmarking purposes.


Case study calculations showed substantial reductions in external costs, (due to air pollution, global warming, noise and accidents) for rail compared to road transport on selected major European routes. This applied to both passenger and goods transport, with savings of 50% or more. The total external costs for road transport on selected major European routes lay in the range 20-45 Euro per 1000 passenger/tonne-kilometres. The relative importance of each cost category varied with mode and route.


The bottom-up approach has provided far greater accuracy than previous top-down approaches, but includes the risk that the data collection effort could exceed the potential benefits. To overcome this issue, an intermediate approach is recommended, where typical values are identified for clusters of routes with similar characteristics, and then used to generalise cost valuation on all routes.

Policy implications

The ability to value external costs is an essential prerequisite to the use of pricing measures to control environmental damage, (as foreseen in the EC Green Paper Towards Fair and Efficient Pricing in Transport).


QUITS has demonstrated the feasibility of evaluating external costs for journeys along specific routes, as part of the research base for the implementation of economically efficient pricing measures in the European transport sector. However, the project has also identified the need for further research - both on the valuation methods used, and on the generalisation of the methodology for simplified application to other journeys. For example, the evaluation of perceived quality and security requires development work.


QUITS contributed to the work of the European Commission’s Joint Scientific Committee on transport pricing.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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