Transport appraisal revisited

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, economics - appraisal/evaluation


Cost-benefit analysis, Project appraisal, Transport investments


Cost-benefit analysis has become a widely used and well developed tool for evaluation of suggested transport projects. This paper presents our view of the role and position of CBA in a transport planning process, partly based on a survey of a number of countries where CBA plays a formalised role in decision making. The survey shows that methodologies, valuations and areas of application are broadly similar across countries. All countries place the CBA results in a comprehensive assessment framework that also includes various types of non-monetised benefits. An important advantage with using CBA is that it is a way to overcome cognitive, structural and process-related limitations and biases in decision making. Some of the main challenges to CBA and to quantitative assessment in general lie in the institutional and political context. There is often a risk that CBA enters the planning process too late to play any meaningful role. This risk seems to increase when planning processes are centred around a perceived “problem”. If the problem is perceived as important enough, even inefficient solutions may be viewed as better than nothing, despite that the definition of what constitutes a “problem” is often arbitrary.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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