FP6: Scientific forum on transport forecast validation and policy assessment (TRANSFORUM)
Head of the Project from TSI:
Project objectives and vision
The European Union has repeatedly expressed its commitment to the principles of sustainable mobility. Member States and the Commission are working together to develop a transport system that provides access to people, places, goods and services in an environmentally responsible, socially acceptable, and economically viable manner.
Extensive research has been conducted in the EU to develop appropriate tools for practitioners and policy-makers to develop the concept of sustainable mobility and make it operational. For this, transport planning and policies need to be based on (and monitored by) adequate indicators, forecasts have to be developed by reliable models, and assessment methodologies have to be able to combine the social, economic and environmental targets of sustainable development.
Policy development needs to be based on transparent, consistent and generally accepted information and indicators, make use of state-of-the-art forecasting tools and use transparent methodologies consistent with the principles of sustainable development. Past and current research has developed supporting tools for transport planning, which will be further refined under FP6.
TRANSFORUM focuses on policy support and assessment tools for the EU's Common Transport Policy (CTP). The project addresses the need to verify the scientific consistency and transparency of these tools, and their ability to match the needs and expectations of policy-makers, users and stakeholders. TRANSFORUM will facilitate this verification process by:
- establishing a scientific forum of individual experts;
- facilitating the forum in a consensus-based assessment and validation of intermediate and final research results both from national research projects and from European research projects in support of the Common Transport Policy;
- developing recommendations to ensure compatibility and convergence between the tools used in transport policy support and assessment both at the European and national levels, and identifying best practices;
- disseminating project results and encouraging their uptake.
TRANSFORUM activities aim to reach a future situation that we like to describe as the TRANSFORUM vision of the future. Our vision contains the following elements:
- Policy-makers at national and EU levels make use of knowledge and methods based on European research on transport policy instruments, transport models, transport policy impact assessment and evaluation.
- They use a set of unified definitions of key indicators - describing the relevant expected impacts of future changes in the transport system - that are widely accepted by policy-makers at the EU and national levels and by various stakeholders.
- There is common agreement between the specialists, policy-makers at the EU and national levels and various stakeholders on:
- how to measure these key indicators
- how to forecast these key indicators
- how to use the set of indicators in policy impact assessment methodologies.
Expected achievements and impacts
The results of the project will take three different forms:
- The first type of result will take the form of support and "critical facilitation" of on-going FP5 and FP6 projects. Support can take the form of scientific validation of results by members of the TRANSFORUM Forum, or usability checks during forum sessions in which the results of these projects can be confronted with the needs and requirements of their potential end-users.
- The conclusions of the validation process will offer a second output, translated in a set of best practice recommendations, and descriptions of approaches to ensure compatibility/convergence between methods and models used in transport policy support and assessment both at European and national levels. These results are to be disseminated to a wider audience and will target separately the stakeholders' representatives and the policy-support research community.
- The third type of result will be a set of recommendations for the future of policy impact assessment methodologies, in terms of a set of operational objectives for future developments, identified gaps in knowledge and related research needs.
The scientific validation by researchers, policy-makers and stakeholders, as facilitated by TRANSFORUM, will result in a commonly accepted, more transparent set of 'tools' in transport policy support and assessment. This will support the development and implementation of successful policies, helping to base these policies on transparent, consistent and generally accepted information, analysis and conclusions, bringing transparency into the assessment process.
The use of generally accepted tools should help policy-makers at the national and European levels to match their proposals and actions more closely to the expectations of society at large, and should facilitate the convergence of the disparate objectives of diverse Administrations and Organizations. In this way, the results should promote the implementation of the European Union's Common Transport Policy.
In addition, commonly accepted results (indicators, impacts, instruments as well as modelling and assessment tools) could integrate regional and even local transport policy-making processes, thus enhancing the quality of the entire transport policy planning process. This impact can reasonably be expected, as in most cases the higher policy levels will to some extent support the development of tools for policy evaluation and monitoring. TRANSFORUM therefore aims to develop guidance on, for instance, a common set of tools and indicators to be used at national level based on state of the art reviews and opinions from the fora. In turn, this will provide a framework for cities to develop their own tools and indicator sets. Therefore, the project will provide the opportunity for all countries within the EU to work within the same framework towards common objectives.
In more concrete terms, the policy-makers will benefit from the:
- improved information and data analysis;
- guidance on participation and facilitating consensus in the transport sector;
- further convergence of disparate views on transport policies (from Member States, stakeholders and sectoral organisations);
- tools for facilitating dialogue;
- guidance to take into consideration and harmonise the various needs and priorities from the European, national and even regional-local perspectives.