Analysis and Evaluation of Transportation Projects

Governments must choose among different transportation investments all competing for limited resources. Therefore, accurate analysis and evaluation of potential impacts is a critical element in planning transportation systems. Prof. Shiftan has contributed in two main ways to this essential endeavor:

  • By studying travelers’ responses to various new transport policies and their potential impact on the transportation system with emphasis on new and emerging policies such as parking and congestion pricing (Shiftan, 2001; Shiftan & Burd-Eden, 2001; Shiftan & Suhrbier, 2002; Shiftan & Golani, 2005). Prof. Shiftan developed advanced survey methods and models of disaggregate travel demand analysis[1] and improved understanding of travelers’ responses to such policies. Given the complexity of fully evaluating large numbers of possible solutions, he also developed and employed scenario analysis as an alternative approach to predicting the future of transportation systems and identify gaps between expected and desired scenarios (Shiftan et al., 2003).
  • By improving the methods used to evaluate transport projects including new ways to quantify their costs and benefits (Shiftan et al., 2002, Shiftan et al., 2008). His investigations of the complex relationships between travel demand modeling and project evaluation have revealed, for example, that our current usage of travel-demand models actually bias us in favor of highway projects (Shiftan et al., 2008). Prof. Shiftan is currently developing methods to incorporate equity into our evaluations, so we can accurately gage the spatial and socioeconomic distribution of transport projects and their benefits (Nahmias–Biran et al., 2014).

Despite today’s increased awareness of social issues, none of the official guides for transport evaluation around the globe discuss equity issues. The need to correct this gap was acknowledged recently when Prof. Shiftan led and was granted, together with several European colleagues, the TEA COST[2] project on this topic. Last December, he hosted an international workshop at the Technion that featured 40 participants (researchers and policymakers) from Europe, as well as senior policymakers from Israel.

Prof. Shiftan was the academic leader in developing the new Israeli guidelines for transport project appraisal, known as Nohal Perat.  Every proposed investment in transportation in Israel has to go through an economic evaluation and impact-assessment process according to these guidelines. The new process incorporates various approaches to evaluating transport projects that Prof. Shiftan has developed. He also developed and currently teaches a graduate course on transport project appraisal

[1] Disaggregate methods analyze behavior at the individual level rather than make statistical inference from aggregate data.

[2] COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally funded research at a European level.