Priority evaluation in transportation policies and programmes
This work is concerned with the development of techniques for the evaluation of large-scale highway schemes with particular reference to the assessment of their costs and benefits in the context of the current transport planning (T.P.P.) process. It has been carried out in close cooperation with West Midlands County Council, although its application and results are applicable elsewhere. The background to highway evaluation and its development in recent years has been described and the emergence of a number of deficiencies in current planning practise noted. One deficiency in particular stood out, that stemming from inadequate methods of scheme generation and the research has concentrated upon improving this stage of appraisal, to ensure that subsequent stages of design, assessment and implementation are based upon a consistent and responsive foundation. Deficiencies of scheme evaluation were found to stem from inadequate development of appraisal methodologies suffering from difficulties of valuation, measurement and aggregation of the disparate variables that characterise highway evaluation. A failure to respond to local policy priorities was also noted. A 'problem' rather than 'goals' based approach to scheme generation was taken, as it represented the current and foreseeable resource allocation context more realistically. A review of techniques with potential for highway problem based scheme generation, which would work within a series of practical and theoretical constraints were assessed and that of multivariate analysis, and classical factor analysis in particular, was selected, because it offerred considerable application to the difficulties of valuation, measurement and aggregation that existed. Computer programs were written to adapt classical factor analysis to the requirements of T.P.P. highway evaluation, using it to derive a limited number of factors which described the extensive quantity of highway problem data. From this, a series of composite problem scores for 1979 were derived for a case study area of south Birmingham, based upon the factorial solutions, and used to assess highway sites in terms of local policy issues. The methodology was assessed in the light of its ability to describe highway problems in both aggregate and disaggregate terms, to guide scheme design, coordinate with current scheme evaluation methods, and in general to improve upon current appraisal. Analysis of the results was both in subjective, 'common-sense' terms and using statistical methods to assess the changes in problem definition, distribution and priorities that emerged. Overall, the technique was found to improve upon current scheme generation methods in all respects and in particular in overcoming the problems of valuation, measurement and aggregation without recourse to unsubstantiated and questionable assumptions. A number of deficiencies which remained have been outlined and a series of research priorities described which need to be reviewed in the light of current and future evaluation needs.