National sustainable transport planning – governance with MCDA?
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Planning for a national sustainable transport system is a complex task and with a conflict potential since it involves taking into account a wide range of criteria. In assessment of public policies, ...
Planning for a national sustainable transport system is a complex task and with a conflict potential since it involves taking into account a wide range of criteria. In assessment of public policies, multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) seems adequate, since it facilitates the use of both qualitative as well as quantitative measurement scales, which makes it possible to address multidisciplinary problems. MCDA has seen a widespread decision-support function in public decision making in sectors such as energy and environment. Over the last decade transport planning, similar to other sector planning, has undergone a change from traditional planning to governance. This together with an increasing emphasis on sustainable development calls for new procedures, institutions and planning tools. Unlike cost-benefit analysis and environmental impact analysis, MCDA is rarely required by national laws or directives. Nonetheless, examples of public support of MCDA can be found: An EU guide points out that MCDA facilitates the participation of all actors and helps reaching a compromise or defining a coalition of views. UK has put a focus on MCDA by publishing a general MCDA guide for official use. Italian law states that MCDA is required as regards project selection for public works. Several examples of use of MCDA in the public domain exist for e.g. Sweden, Portugal and France. This paper evaluates the use of MCDA in national transport planning by its strengths and weaknesses in assessing the impacts of public policy options up for examination within sustainable national transport planning. The evaluation is based on a review of identified relevant literature. The overall key issue of this paper is to highlight the application potential of MCDA in national transport planning and its utility to policymakers engaged in such planning for a sustainable development of the transport system.
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