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Europe calls for guidance on evaluating ITS projects

First publishedin ITS International
2012 September October
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John Miles of Transport Associates Network
John Miles of Transport Associates Network

A European Commission study report has revealed a lack of consistency or standard practice for evaluating the funding needs and fiscal performance of ITS projects.

New guidelines are urgently needed for monitoring public funding of ITS schemes, says a recent report from the European Commission (EC). A specially-commissioned study has found no readily available comparative analysis of transport funding schemes and ITS investment methodologies to support project decision making.

A survey of nine EU member states (with Canada and the US for comparison) highlights a wide range of providers and models for ITS funding in Europe. Some require cost benefit investment appraisal and well-developed business models. Others demand regular monitoring of project delivery outcomes against key performance indicators or mid-term evaluation in comparison to ex-ante calculations, “but these are by no means universal”, the report says.

Overall, the EC says: “There is no agreement between different countries and organisations on the need for monitoring and evaluation, no established good practice; nor any agreement on the appropriate proportion of budget for evaluation. This contrasts with the US, where practice has to satisfy the requirements of the 1993 US Government Performance & Results Act.”

Hindrance to progress

The effect is that EU member states are all working to different funding regimes and transport investment assessment methods, with direct impacts on the assessment and financing of cross-border infrastructure projects and ITS services. The report warns that this could impede progress on priority areas of Europe’s ITS Action Plan, including continuity of traffic and freight management ITS services on transport corridors and in conurbations. It calls for early action in three areas:

  • Developing good practice guidance on public financing of ITS at policy level, following consultation with member states;
  • Establishing a more robust evidence base on states’ existing arrangements; and
  • Developing and maintaining web-based resources for ITS practitioners, to support internal budget processes and enable ex- ante ITS scheme appraisal.

The EC recommends creation of an online knowledge resource for ITS project costings and benefit appraisals, modelled on the US Department of Transportation websites www.itscosts.its.dot.gov and www.itsbenefits.its.dot.gov. One approach could follow up the 2009-2011 European 2DECIDE project, initiated in response to the ITS Action Plan’s call for development of dedicated decision support for ITS investment decisions, which has already produced a toolkit (available at www.its-toolkit.eu/2decide//node/44).
The report also sees a role for a goal-oriented, decision tree-based ITS tool selection kit, citing one developed by the UK Department for Transport (www.dft.gov.uk/itstoolkit/generic-advice.htm). Co-author John Miles told ITS International: “Both approaches have their place. In a perfect world, both would be worked up and available for the benefit of those involved in ex-ante ITS investment appraisal in Europe, populated with data from appraisals made of European ITS projects and placed in the context of European transport policy goals.”


Call for guidance

The EC report goes on to call for published guidance on business planning and investment appraisal for public and private funding of ITS on the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) Road Network, to give effect to EU proposals for a new funding framework. (This would augment the EC’s Guide on Cost Benefit Analysis, last updated in 2008). The study was commissioned by EC DG-MOVE, in support of Action 6.3 of the European ITS Action Plan, to prepare the ground for the development of guidelines for public funding of ITS schemes at both European and national levels. It was led by global IT and management services company Logica working with UK-based consultants’ group Transport Associates Network, with input from Ertico/ITS Europe and a wide constituency of industry stakeholders.

Recommended kernel budget & finance components for European funding guidelines & web-based resources

• Support for internal budget processes from readily available                                                                                           
• Europe-specific information on ITS costs and benefits
• Justification for ITS investment in business cases for public funding
• ITS scheme appraisal against transport policy goals, to help compete for funding with conventional proposals

Companies in this article

European Commission
US Department of Transportation

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