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Title: Modelling the economic impact of transport projects in sparse networks and peripheral regions
Author: Laird, James Jeremy
ISNI:       0000 0001 3603 9626
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2008
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The lack of alternatives and choices make sparse networks and peripheral regions distinct. Travel choices are limited, as are employment and supplier choices. This thesis is therefore concerned with whether cost benefit analysis techniques need to be adapted so as to adequately deal with the appraisal of transport projects in these areas. Specifically, improved treatment of scheduling costs, uncertainty and wider economic impacts is proposed. A theoretical case is made for the inclusion of scheduling costs and the cost of risk bearing by drawing on the literature on time use, departure time choice, activity scheduling, risk premia and option values. Similarly a theoretical case is made for the inclusion of efficiency gains from an expansion in output in imperfectly competitive markets, an expansion of employment in the presence of a labour market failure, and an increase in productivity in industry clusters. A survey of ferry users and island residents in the Outer Hebrides finds evidence of statistically significant costs associated with transport related constraints on activity scheduling. These costs decrease non-linearly in the transport constraints - headway and operating hours. A difficulty faced when estimating discrete choice models with taste variation is a lack of knowledge of the distribution of willingness to pay. This difficulty can be overcome through a mix of contingent valuation questions and stated preference questions with fixed boundary values. Significant differences are found in willingness to pay depending on whether the stated choice question is framed as per trip or per year. In contrast to what might be expected from the options value literature, no difference in the cost of risk bearing is found between a fixed link and a high quality ferry service. Further empirical work identifies less than complete wage compensation for commuting costs of workers in peripheral areas of Scotland. This indicates the presence of a labour market failure arising through high job search costs in a thin labour market. The main conclusion of the thesis is that the scope of a cost benefit analysis should be widened to include the studied effects. The case studies undertaken show that for public transport projects the effects, in totality, can be a similar order of magnitude to user benefits. Importantly, the large potential benefits from fixed links and the low incomes evident in peripheral regions combine to make income effects important, when calculating total economic welfare in these areas. Further research opportunities on scheduling costs, risk premia and thin labour markets are identified.
Supervisor: Mackie, Peter ; Batley, Richard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available