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Do Cost–Benefit Analyses Influence Transport Investment Decisions? Experiences from the Swedish Transport Investment Plan 2010–21

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Cost–benefit analysis (CBA) for transport investments is particularly useful for situations where a large number of investments have to be ranked against each other. This study draws on experiences from the development of the Swedish National Transport Investment Plan 2010–21. We study how CBA results were used in the process of shaping the investment plan and what influence they had on investment decisions. In particular, we compare the planners' rankings versus the politicians' rankings. We find that planners' rankings of investments are influenced by benefit–cost ratios (BCRs), in particular for low and moderate BCRs, while the politicians' rankings are not. By interviewing planners about how CBA was used in the process, we clarify what role CBA actually played in the planning process. We find that not only did the CBAs play a role in investment selection, they also forced investment design to be more cost-efficient. Furthermore, we explore planners' implicit valuations, as revealed by their investment selection, finding that freight benefits were implicitly valued higher and traffic safety lower than the officially recommended CBA weights. Finally, we identify the most important areas for improvement of CBA state-of-practice methodology.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Transport Studies,Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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