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Ex-Post Evaluations of Demand Forecast Accuracy: A Literature Review

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Travel demand forecasts play a crucial role in the preparation of decision support to policy-makers in the field of transport planning. The results feed directly into impact appraisals such as cost–benefit analyses and environmental impact assessments, which are mandatory for large public works projects in many countries. Over the last few decades, there has been increasing attention given to the lack of demand forecast accuracy. However, since data availability for comprehensive Ex-Post appraisals is problematic, such studies are still relatively rare. This study presents a review of the largest Ex-Post studies of demand forecast accuracy for transport infrastructure projects. The focus is threefold: to provide an overview of observed levels of demand forecast inaccuracy, to highlight key contextual and methodological differences between studies and to highlight key focus areas for future research in this field. The results show that inaccuracy remains problematic for road, rail and toll projects alike, but also how the lack of methodological clarity and consistency calls for a careful interpretation of these results. Mandatory, systematic Ex-Post evaluation programmes are suggested as a necessary tool to improve decision support, as data availability for Ex-Post studies is often remarkably poor even for internal audits.
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Keywords: Ex-Post evaluation; bias; decision support; demand forecasts; inaccuracy; project appraisal

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Skibbrogade 5, Aalborg, 9000, Denmark 2: Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University Copenhagen, AC Meyers Vænge 15, Copenhagen, 2450, Denmark

Publication date: July 4, 2014

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