While the diverse impacts of transport policies and investments on different population groups have long been recognized, understanding and explicitly assessing these impacts is of increasing importance for several reasons. First, the expected mobility costs increase (fuel price, congestion charging, public transport budget constraints) for the use of private and public transport implies a change in the long-term trend of generalized costs of travel. Differences in transport policies across time and space, and thus in terms of the affected population groups, suggest that the related differential impacts should be treated seriously (Hengel et al., 1998). Second, the high level of mobility has created land use patterns that are difficult to navigate for non-motorized transport users. This issue is recently gaining attention due to the ageing of the population and the related growth in the number of people that are no longer able to drive a car or are becoming more car dependent (women) (White Paper, 2011). Third, there is increasing realization that equity should play a constitutive role in transport provision, similarly to education and health care, where equity considerations form part of everyday decision-making. And yet EU guidebooks for transport project evaluation do not account specifically for equity issues.
The three main objectives of the TEA COST Action are:
- to develop innovative and comprehensive transport evaluation criteria accounting for distributional effects and accessibility;
- to include social and spatial factors in social welfare assessment by introducing the concept of gains of accessibility to key social activities. Specifically, the aim is to replace the traditional measure of time savings that favour better-off societal groups, with welfare and accessibility measures that cater for the needs of more vulnerable social groups. In this way, the social welfare function will be more equitable;
- to devise a common European methodology that links equity indicators and social welfare maximization in order to promote equity considerations in transport decision making and to quantify the gains of an equal accessibility in a systematic way, identifying population groups across European countries with common problems and needs in terms of accessibility and attempt to incorporate these considerations into EU transport policy.
The TEA COST Action contributes to the body of research by bringing together new approaches to incorporate equity consideration in transport project evaluation and decision making. The approaches consist of the measurement of accessibility with the literature on social justice, travel behaviour models and socio-economic impacts analysis in line with mainstream welfare economics.
The multi-disciplinary TEA team brings together established and Early-Stage Researchers working on transport policies equity assessment, activity-based travel demand modelling and transport economics. Actually, the European network perspective is necessary because the topic has developed differently between countries and disciplines because of the different historical, socio-political, economic and transport system contexts. In this context, the Action partners characterized by their varied approaches to transport equity need a networking framework to compare and learn from each other and have access to different data and evidence that can shed light on the complex problem of equity.
The aim of the TEA work plan is twofold:
- to enable an intensive and productive exchange of ideas and approaches between the researchers of various countries and disciplines;
- to enable a direct communication between researchers and practitioners in order to explore the relevance of the developed approaches, indicators and methodologies for the actual practice of transportation planning.
TEA seeks to put equity evaluation on the agenda in its own right, and to bring together different disciplines, country guidelines and other aspects in order to establish and move forward the state of the art in equity evaluation. Through the networking, the participants will have the opportunity to set a Europe-wide standard in Transport Equity Analysis.
The methodology will be based on a wide review of current practices, by identifying problems and level of equity considerations in policies and investment assessment. The methodology will be based on theoretical considerations of equity and use of activity based accessibility measures. A think tank with academics, practitioners and policy makers discussing potential ways to incorporate equity in transport appraisal allows TEA to develop measures and compare case studies from different countries.
TEA is producing:
- State of the art on transport and equity assessment;
- New transport evaluation criteria accounting for accessibility and distributional effects.