The European Union has repeatedly expressed its commitment to the principles of sustainable mobility. Member States and the Commission are working together to develop a transport system that provides access to people, places, goods and services in an environmentally responsible, socially acceptable, and economically viable manner.
Extensive research has been conducted in the EU to develop appropriate tools for practitioners and policy-makers to develop the concept of sustainable mobility and make it operational. For this, transport planning and policies need to be based on (and monitored by) adequate indicators, forecasts have to be developed by reliable models, and assessment methodologies have to be able to combine the social, economic and environmental targets of sustainable development.
Policy development needs to be based on transparent, consistent and generally accepted information and indicators, make use of state-of-the-art forecasting tools and use transparent methodologies consistent with the principles of sustainable development. Past and current research has developed supporting tools for transport planning, which will be further refined under FP6.
TRANSFORUM focused on policy support and assessment tools for the EU's Common Transport Policy (CTP).
The project addressed the need to verify the scientific consistency and transparency of policy support and assessment tools, and their ability to match the needs and expectations of policy-makers, users and stakeholders.
TRANSFORUM would facilitate this verification process by:
- establishing a scientific forum of individual experts;
- facilitating the forum in a consensus-based assessment and validation of intermediate and final research results both from national research projects and from European research projects in support of the Common Transport Policy;
- developing recommendations to ensure compatibility and convergence between the tools used in transport policy support and assessment both at the European and national levels, and identifying best practices;
- disseminating project results and encouraging their uptake.
TRANSFORUM activities aimed to reach a future situation that we would like to describe as the TRANSFORUM vision of the future. Our vision contained the following elements:
- Policy-makers at national and EU levels make use of knowledge and methods based on European research on transport policy instruments, transport models, transport policy impact assessment and evaluation.
- They use a set of unified definitions of key indicators - describing the relevant expected impacts of future changes in the transport system - that are widely accepted by policy-makers at the EU and national levels and by various stakeholders.
- There is common agreement between the specialists, policy-makers at the EU and national levels and various stakeholders on:
- how to measure these key indicators;
- how to forecast these key indicators;
- how to use the set of indicators in policy impact assessment methodologies.
In order to reach its objectives, TRANSFORUM organized a number of forum sessions during its 36-month lifetime. Additionally, a virtual forum (E-forum) for on-line discussions was organised. The forum brought together relevant scientists, policy-makers and stakeholders. To guarantee that the consensus-based assessment and validation was performed in a verifiable way, special efforts were made to develop a sound methodology to accompany the process.
The validation focused on a wide variety of different elements of policy assessment methodologies, such as common definitions, indicators, frameworks and methods proposed for pan-European use, refined/integrated transport-related modelling and forecasting tools, baseline forecasts produced for the short, medium and longer term, and the socio-economic assessment of selected transport policy options and packages.
TRANSFORUM intended to be a self-improving process, offering relevant conclusions on developing innovative tools to increase participation in transport decision-making and actively furthering the dissemination of knowledge and its exploitation prospects among researchers and those involved in policy-making.
The knowledge area of tools for transport policy support and assessment was fairly large. As other actions under FP6 addressed already certain specific parts of the transport sector and specific policy tools (for instance CIVITAS for urban transport and HEATCO for project assessment), TRANSFORUM focused on transport policies dealing with the interurban and international mobility of goods and passengers.
It screened and discussed the results and recommendations of research projects dealing with the three main technical elements supporting policy-making:
- indicators that are suitable for monitoring the various impacts of transport policies in terms of the different dimensions of sustainable development;
- modelling tools to forecast and measure the impacts of transport policies on relevant indicators (indicators related to the levels of service of the interurban and international transport system and their environmental, safety and spatial-economic effects);
- assessment techniques, integrating the environmental, regional, spatial, safety, quality of life and socio-economic impacts of transport networks and transport policies.
The project's core management team consisted of the project manager, a deputy project manager and the project bureau manager, and was responsible for the day-t
The TRANSFORUM project was not a research exercise in the traditional sense, but an innovative knowledge forum in which the fitness-for-purpose (FFP) of tools developed for transport policy support are being assessed. The process, in which this assessment took place, was characterised by communication between the EC and the Member States, between EU member states themselves, between policy-makers, policy analysts and transport modellers, through:
- exchange of ideas and experiences about policy-making, definitions and indicators used, as well as transport models and other policy assessment tools available or under development;
- support of policy-makers, analysts and others with an interest in transport policy–making, by providing practical information about the fitness-for-purpose of policy support tools and analyses produced in FP's in order to stimulate science-policy collaboration within the policy-making process.
The actual FFP assessment method and the interaction were to be regarded as intermediate 'products' of TRANSFORUM. Therefore the products of this project were not only a traditional final report and printed documentation, but also less tangible items - above all the Forum Meetings - that were all about interaction rather than about producing a 'finished tangible product'.
- As a consequence the products of the TRANSFORUM project, intended in the broad sense explained above were:
- Bringing together transport scientists and practitioners in Forum Meetings in an intellectually stimulating environment, creating the conditions for high-quality debate on policy-relevant topics. The meetings assist the formulation of recommendations and best practices based on the project results, as well as the shaping of future research agenda, collectively by all participating parties. This kind of process strengthens the commitment to apply the recommendations in future activities and hopefully urges different parties to work together in future policy planning activities. Consequently, TRANSFORUM meetings have indeed established an activity that can act as a research-policy network.
- Critically facilitating other FP projects to improve their performance by introducing the knowledge and experiences obtained in TRANSFORUM through the fitness-for-purpose assessment of these projects and by enabling the projects to present themselves in the protected surroundings of Forum Meetings.
- Recommendations to ensure compatibility and convergence b
For each of the three elements of policy impact assessment addressed in TRANSFORUM ('Assessment tools/methods supporting policy development', 'definitions and indicators' and 'models and scenarios'), recommendations on how to enhance the influence of policy assessment research on policy decisions have been formulated. Many of them can also be seen as points which need further examination in the future. Their uptake will help in reducing the current division of tasks between transport research and policy making towards a more integrated innovation activity.
Assessment tools/methods supporting policy development
To develop transport policy visions from the systems perspective. Basically, the ultimate purpose of the transport system is to serve the needs and expectations of its users, who in turn shape the system by their own behaviour and actions. This requires putting transport research and policies at the service of more general goals. The coherence of the transport system should be analysed with various goals in mind constantly monitoring the edges of transport related projects within a larger societal context. At these edges lie the richest opportunities for transport innovations and success.
To increase the effectiveness of stakeholder participation within European transport research projects. Stakeholder participation should be made more effective in order to:
- ensure that project results are valid;
- build support among the end user organisations;
- lend projects the credibility to be able to contribute to policy development.
Currently, the impact of most of the research results on policy decisions is rather low, if any. To strengthen this impact, guidance is needed at least in the following areas:
- identifying key stakeholder/end user groups for research projects and securing their involvement;
- using appropriate tools for efficient participation within the projects;
- ensuring efficient dissemination of research results beyond the research community.
The legitimacy of assessments and the durability of the results are critical, especially in issues concerning sustainability, equity and competitiveness. Currently, public consultations are based on EC policy documents, like the 'mid-term review' (European Commission - 2006), and not on the underlying scientific assessments.
To present policy assessment outputs in a form that is simple, concise and clearly communicating key issu