The Evaluation of Major Local Authority Transport Projects: a Guide for DfT

The Situation

In late 2005 NERA, MVA, and the David Simmonds Consultancy were commissioned by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) to produce a guidance manual on the evaluation of local authority major transport projects. This manual has now been published on the DfT website.

Major schemes, costing more than £5 million, represent a significant proportion of DfT spending on local transport. Evaluating schemes will demonstrate whether schemes provide value-for-money, and will generate information to inform future decision making. The guidance sets out what DfT requires from an evaluation, and provides advice on methodological and practical issues.

NERA's Role

The guide was developed through detailed consultations with key stakeholders, and involved discussions with DfT officials, interviews with stakeholders in different English local authorities, and two facilitated workshops to gain feedback on initial drafts of the guide. Our team also reviewed existing evaluation reports on transport schemes in the UK.

The guide provides practical guidance on when evaluation is appropriate and how to carry it out, and is illustrated with case studies including the London congestion charging scheme, the Okehampton by-pass, the Sheffield Supertram, and the Skye Bridge.

The Result

The guide is addressed to those concerned with the promotion of local authority major schemes in England outside London, this being the scope of the Department for Transport's financial involvement in local transport. The first three chapters are relevant to sponsors of schemes and evaluation managers at the scheme funding stage when they are devising an evaluation plan, and also during or following scheme implementation, when they are about to undertake an ex post evaluation of the scheme. Chapters four and five provide more detailed guidance on impact and process evaluation, and will be useful for evaluation managers and public sector practitioners undertaking evaluations and reporting the findings. The usefulness of any evaluation depends largely on the presentation and use of the evaluation results. This is covered in the sixth and final main chapter.