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Workshop on Economic analysis of the transformation of urban transport systems

9 September 2020

Expert Roundtable
Economic analysis of the transformation of urban transport systems

Geneva, 9 September 2020

Held in conjunction with the Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics (WP.5)
Programme of work: cluster C. Sustainable urban mobility


Urban transport systems are key enablers for the sustainable development of cities, they provide urban dwellers with access to jobs, education, health care or commerce and provide seamless links among the various markets. The more effective and efficient the urban transport system is (i.e. the better it facilitates access to various markets and places of interest and links them effectively), the more opportunities there are for cities and their inhabitants to develop and prosper.
We consider effective and efficient urban transport to be one which satisfies the numerous and diverse requirements of metropolitan mobility by:
• Providing accessibility to various locations at affordable pricing.
• Minimizing travel times between those various locations.
• Internalizing transport system externalities such as air pollutants, noise emissions, road accidents and others with a view to limit negative impacts on citizens well-being and their quality of life and maximizing service quality in a context of “resource constraint” conditions.

Organizing an effective and efficient urban transport system is not an easy task as complex systems (such as transport and mobility set-ups) tend to interdepend on other systems to be able to operate. These interdependencies require a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach inter alia paying due consideration to: spatial and urban infrastructure planning, social demography and geography as well as urban transit and logistics demands. 

In the era of ever-growing urbanization, the creation of efficient and effective urban transport systems is high on the agenda of policy-makers globally, whether by applying single transport policies and/or combined/integrated policies.

In this context, it is of utmost importance to understand:
• What are the costs of implementation of single or integrated policies?
• What benefits do they bring (in monetary terms)? and
• What are the risks and how to mitigate them in order to maximize the benefits and minimize costs? 

It is also important to consider how the risks, costs and benefits in case of implementation (or lack thereof) of single or integrated policies vary depending on the size of cities, the size of their markets and their level of technological development, i.e. their level of vehicle electrification and automation and the use of Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technologies. In such considerations, the negative consequences generated by transport on public health, quality of life and the environment are to be integrated.

Way forward
Compiling such transport policy cost-benefit analyses in a variety of cities of different sizes could provide a sound empirical basis for the development of an analytical model. Elaboration of such an analytical model to assess suitability of transport and/or combined policies can be an important step forward for cities, empowering them to make better informed decisions in the future for transformation of their urban transport systems.   It is at this methodological level that this workshop aims at providing value. The economic analysis should consider the wide range of policies being applied to urban transport systems, which for decades were focused on facilitating travel for personal vehicles powered by a combustion engine. 

Available urban mobility policies inter alia include the following categories aimed at:
• Avoiding or reducing travel (i.e. avoid policies)
• Shifting travel to more societally- and environmentally-friendly modes including “active modes” and a shift to mobility as a service (i.e. shift policies)
• Improving the available modes and system (i.e. improve policies)

Each of the above policy categories should be analyzed for cities of different sizes. Also, possible policy mixes should be analyzed and how such mix may need to be adjusted for cities of different sizes.  Specific examples of the avoid-shift-improve policies are listed in the attached concept note.    

Call for abstracts
In preparation to the expert round table, UNECE invites interested stakeholders, including city authorities, urban and spatial planners, national Ministry of Transport/ Mobility experts, NGOs and academia to send abstracts on case studies discussing such transport policy cost-benefit analyses currently being implemented or designed in a variety of cities of different sizes with a focus on one of the three policy categories “Avoid policies”, “Shift policies” and “Improve policies” or combinations thereof (i.e. policy mixes).  Priority should be given to case studies with emphasis on practical examples where cities/urban centres are undertaking methodological efforts to quantify in monetary terms the costs, risks and benefits of their urban mobility and spatial planning policy choices.

Abstracts should be sent through to Mr. Roel Janssens by 15 July 2020. Selected case studies will be given slots for oral presentation and discussion with the audience at the expert-round table.  Consecutive interpretation will be provided in the three UNECE working languages (English, Russian and French).   All case studies will be made available on the UNECE website.

Download here the template for case studies and abstracts.

For participation in the expert round table and the 33rd Session of the Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics (WP.5) please use the following link to register.

For further information, please contact: roel.janssens@un.org