Background: For assessing the desirability and feasibility of major transport projects decision makers often recur to ex-ante evaluation methods such as cost-benefit analysis or multi-criteria analysis. In these methods projects are evaluated for their impacts on the welfare of society as one indivisible entity. The use of these methods is limited for assessing socio-spatial equity, as costs and benefits of transport are unequally spread over space and society. Moreover, in projects that cross political borders these methods poorly represent the spatially differentiated interests of the decision makers. Methods: This article proposes a novel evaluation approach, applied in a study on the possible demolition of a motorway linking the three Belgian regions of Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. Results: The application demonstrates how the social and spatial differentiation of effects can be evaluated, allowing to differentiate impacts for crucial stakeholders or criteria, but also to aggregate evaluation results in cases where pursuing supra-local or common interests is appropriate. Conclusions: Whether and where decision making in transport should follow utilitarian or egalitarian distributive principles depends on context and political considerations. The presented approach allows decision makers to apply both principles where they are deemed appropriate, transparently, in a single project.
- Cost-benefit analysis
- Multi-criteria analysis