, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 285-315

Optimal transport strategies for European cities

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A new procedure for generating optimal transport strategies has been applied in nine European cities. A public sector objective function which reflects concerns over efficiency, environmental impact, finance and sustainability is specified and a set of policy measures with acceptable ranges on each, identified. Optimal strategies based on combinations of these policy measures which generate the optimal value of the objective function, are identified, and compared between cities. Resulting policy recommendations are presented. The results demonstrate the importance of an integrated approach to transport strategy formulation. They emphasise the role of changes in public transport service levels and of fares, and of charges for car use. By contrast, new infrastructure projects are less frequently justified. In the majority of cities the revenues from car use charges are sufficient to finance other elements in the strategy. However, private sector involvement either in initial financing or in operation may be desirable. Revised objective functions to reflect private sector involvement are specified, and optimal strategies with private sector operation of public transport are also identified. The requirement to meet private sector rates of return for public transport operation typically results in lower frequencies and higher fares; charges for car use then need to be raised to satisfy public policy objectives, but system performance is reduced.