Does uncertainty make cost-benefit analyses pointless?

Download
Jonas Eliasson

Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is widely used in public decision making on infrastructure investments. However, the demand forecasts, cost estimates, benefit valuations and effect assessments that are conducted as part of CBAs are all subject to various degrees of uncertainty. The question is to what extent CBAs, given such uncertainties, are still useful as a way to prioritize between infrastructure investments, or put differently, how robust the policy conclusions of CBA are with respect to uncertainties. Using simulations based on real data on national infrastructure plans in Sweden and Norway, we study how investment selection and total realized benefits change when decisions are based on CBA assessments subject to several different types of uncertainty. Our results indicate that realized benefits and investment selection are surprisingly insensitive to all studied types of uncertainty, even for high levels of uncertainty. The two types of uncertainty that affect results the most are uncertainties about investment cost and transport demand. Reducing uncertainty can still be worthwhile, however, because of the huge amounts of money at stake: a 10% reduction in general uncertainty can increase the realized benefits of a national infrastructure investment plan by nearly 100 million euro (assuming that decisions are based on the CBAs). We conclude that, despite the many types of uncertainties, CBA is able to fairly consistently separate the wheat from the chaff and hence contribute to substantially improved infrastructure decisions.

MEET US


7
Dec

Shipping and the environment – research meets reality

Centre for Transport Studies (CTS) in co-operation with Ports of Stockholm invite you to the seminar Shipping and the environment – research meets reality.

LATEST NEWS


2017-10-26

Simulation of cut-in by manually driven vehicles in platooning scenarios

A study in a VTI-driving simulator has showed that a platoon will be able to handle a cut in from a manually driven car. The results of this study have recently been presented at two conferences in Japan.


2017-10-16

ERPUG Forum

The five-year anniversary of European Road Profile Users' Group (ERPUG) Forum will take place at Ramboll head quarter, Copenhagen, Denmark October 19-20, 2017.


2017-09-29

Self-driving buses in Sweden next year?

A self-driving, fossil-free bus. This idea might become reality through a forthcoming collaborative project involving the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), Linköping University and several other participants. The project group aim...


2017-09-29

New climate-proof solutions for hard surfaces in cities

High-density road infrastructure that emphasise maximum durability and minimum maintenance create inflexible systems, which put increased stress on urban trees and lead to increased risk for flooding. Over the past five years, the ‘Climate-proof solutions for...


2017-09-29

VTI is preparing for automated vehicles

Automation of traffic systems will lead to major changes. The European Union’s (EU) CoEXist research project began in June 2017 with the aim of preparing cities and road operators for the introduction of self-driving vehicles. The Swedish National Road and...


2017-07-05

Vehicle Driver Monitoring: sleepiness and cognitive load

To prevent road crashes it is important to understand driver related contributing factors, which have been suggested to be the critical reason in 94 per cent of crashes. The overall aim of the project Vehicle Driver Monitoring has been to advance the...