Benchmarking public transport experiments – incentives for a common evaluation

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - appraisal/evaluation


From 1996 to 2000, The Norwegian Ministry of Transport provided financial support to organizations and authorities who carried out public transport packages of measures. As a part of this trial scheme, the Institute of Transport economics (TOI) has developed a common evaluation plan for public transport experiments. This year, the final results from evaluation of these packages are published. This paper describes the evaluation approach and the methodological approach. The objective is to illustrate what kind of analyses that are possible when conducting a common evaluation plan across cities and a variation of measures. An important requirement for the evaluation is that the method is relatively inexpensive and easy to carry out. This has been the focus for the evaluation method being tested in Norway during a period of 10 years, first on single experiments (1991-1995) and then on packages of Public Transport measures (1996-2000). In order to get the full benefits of the evaluation, it is necessary to follow a common plan. Basic evaluations, consisting of travel surveys with panel selection amongst a representative sample of the population in the areas where the measures are implemented, and a user survey among passengers. Both types of study must be carried out before and after that measures are implemented. The basic evaluation further contains a registration of area data (zonal data), as well as the number of passenger during the trial period. The evaluation plan is unique in that it can be used to evaluate effects in the same way, irrespective of experiment, city or country. It is also possible to control for different external conditions and it is a useful tool for evaluations of the effects of combined measures. The main challenge for an evaluation of packages of measures is to find the isolated effect of the measures, corrected for the effect of a turbulent environment. This applies both to changes for the individual, such as family situations, employment and financial situations and external effects such as fuel prices, parking conditions etc. Analysis of the increase and decrease in public transport use is useful to illustrate the significance of isolated effects. Analyses indicate that the expected decline in use of public transport is almost twice as large as the expected increase in use of public transport. Based on these findings, it is easy to jump into conclusion that spending time and money on packages of public transport measures are wasted. However, analyses including external factors indicate that external conditions may have influenced demand more in a negative direction than the measures itself have been able to rectify. In other words, without the measures, the decline in public transport use probably would have been worse. Thus, the packages of measures did have a positive effect, weakening a negative development. In the paper, we also focus on how a common evaluation plan across a variation of measures enables analyses of synergy effects. What combination of measures strengthens and weakens each other? A large data material also enables us to do more profound analyses, for example on how individual characteristics influences transport mode choice.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.