Basic Components of Transport Studies

Infrastructure Engineering

Jonathan Archer

Basic Components of Transport Studies

It is critical from the start to have clear objectives and aims for any scheme; this coincides and links to the transport study. With clear objectives set, it is far easier to maximise efficiency of a transport study. There are in practice, two different approaches which can be used to identify objectives and their related problems:

  1. True Objectives-Led Approach: Objectives are used to identify problems by assessing the extent to which current or predicted future conditions, in the absence of new policy measures fail to meet the objectives.
  2. Problem-Led Approach: Using current or predicted future conditions to identify when and where problems may occur. The objectives are implicit in the identified problem which makes it easy to understand but is dependent on developing a full list of potential problems at the outset.

Consultation, Participation and Information

  • Consultation is an important component of transport studies as it allows the public views to be heard.

  • It is important to highlight to the public the potential scheme and offer participation and open information about the purpose behind the transport study in order to gain the relevant information required.

  • Wide participation of local residents, businesses, transport users and operators is key to understanding problems and setting local objectives for any scheme.

  • Information gained is important to gauge the likely acceptability of potential solutions to the problem, which in turn could be used to formulate a suitable plan of action.

Developing Solutions

  • Once objectives have been set, the situation analysed and consultation has been carried out it is important to identify the constraining problems.

  • Solutions must be sort for any problems and an evaluation put forward.

  • Transport planners must decide which measure to implement in order to resolve or ease the identified problem.

  • Non transport solutions may be sort such as educating people, highlighting other modes of transport and their advantages to reduce traffic congestion for example.

  • A review may be required and new objectives set if solutions to the problem are not suitable or do not offer the required benefit or have an adverse effect on the Governments five Transport Objectives.


  • Computer models of the transport system are often used to provide necessary information for current and/or predicted future conditions for an appraisal to be carried out.

  • Models can vary, depending on the nature of the study area, the problems and the potential solutions to be considered.

  • Multi Modal Studies can forecast the changes in demand over time between modes and uses separate representations of the public transport system and highway.

  • In some studies modelling frameworks can be extended to tak into account the impact of transport on land uses and the implications this may have on the appraisal of any scheme.

The Appraisal Framework

  • The appraisal system is used to assess whether proposed schemes offer value for money in accordance with the Government aims, including investment in transport to solve problems.

  • Throughout the NATA process the Government's five objectives for transport are vital to:

    • Protect and enhance the built and natural environment
    • Improve the safety for all travellers
    • Contribute to an efficient economy
    • Promote accessibility
    • To integrate all modes of transport into a more efficient transport system.
  • NATA then uses an appraisal framework which includes a summary table of the Government objectives as in addition to the following:

    • Achievement of regional and local objectives
    • Effectiveness in solving the problem
    • Supporting Analyses
  • This information is then sufficient for a considered judgement and decision on the worth of the project.


The output of the study should provide the following:

  • A level of detail at which enables those involved in the scheme to have a full understanding of the scheme in order to contribute to debates; to allow fully informed decisions to be made about a scheme.

  • Clear and logical conclusions without over burdening the reader into misunderstandings and ambiguities.

References:,, Lecture Notes Semester 1

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