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WP5: Strategic evaluation of costs and benefits across all Connect2 sites

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WP5: Strategic evaluation of costs and benefits across all Connect2 sites

Summary

Dr Jane Powell at the University of the West of England, Bristol, is leading this workpackage, which evaluates the Connect2 programme in terms of its economic performance at a broad strategic level - innovatively combining the methodological and disciplinary perspectives of health economics, transport economics and environmental economics.

The economic evaluation of Connect2 encompasses a range of policy perspectives including the 'societal' and 'government agency' perspectives. In order to cover all policy perspectives of potential importance, we intend to work with robust economic evaluation research designs including cost-benefit analysis and cost-utility analysis that can stand up to scrutiny in a harsh policy environment and meet the requirements of common-currency resource allocation arguments.

The first task is to develop a strategic evaluation framework (see tasks on the left). We will assemble the necessary data from a combination of primary and secondary data sources. Primary data will be collected using the user intercept questionnaires improved and piloted under WP2 to enhance Sustrans' routine data collection which is to be carried out at all Connect2 sites. Secondary data will be derived from the literature in transport, health and climate-change economics, including government guidance (Transport Analysis Guidance (WebTAG), WHO), research and consultancy reports (e.g. Stockholm Environmental Institute, 2005).

The methods will be based on recent work involving a number of members of the consortium including that for the NICE programme development group on physical activity and the environment (Mutrie, Ogilvie), the development of a WHO tool for economic evaluation of cycling (Rutter), the development of personal travel emissions profiles at the household level (Brand) and the ex-post evaluation of the transport impacts of the European wide CIVITAS II programme (Preston).

This work package will help to address large gaps in current knowledge, not only by contributing to the limited evidence base for the effectiveness of infrastructural interventions such as Connect2, but also by developing the methods needed to demonstrate their value to a wide policy audience.

Why important?

Current guidance on the costs and benefits of transport schemes exists in the form of the New Approach to Appraisal (NATA) which is currently being reassessed by the DfT in a ‘refresh’ exercise. In quantitative terms, appraisal benefits are dominated by users’ travel time and costs and the evidence-base for the valuation of pedestrians’ and, particularly, cyclists’ time is limited (see, for example, Wardman et al. 2007). NATA includes valuations of carbon and quantification of physical fitness, but these will be reassessed. For example, the validity of the 30 minutes threshold for daily physical activity will be considered, and alternative continuous measures assessed. Valuation evidence exists in NATA for factors such as journey ambience, whilst townscape, accessibility, social inclusion and integration are seen as areas in which valuation should be developed (DfT, 2007: Figure 4.4). Methodologies for including such ‘soft’ composite variables in economic appraisal will be reviewed.

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