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NCP-Project “Costs of urban transport”

Publication of the results on the costs of different modes of transport

Grafik "NRVP-Projekt Welche Kosten verursachen verschiedene Verkehrsmittel wirklich?"
© Universität Kassel, Fachgebiet Verkehrsplanung und Verkehrssysteme

The NCP project "Costs of urban transport. NCP 2020 - What are the real costs of different modes of transport?” publishes first results. A calculation tool and the user guide will be published in mid-2018.

Car traffic costs the municipalities three-times as much as public transport and cycling receives the lowest subsidies

Passenger transport and goods traffic is an important basis for social participation and prosperity of the population. The resulting benefits for individuals and society are considerable and undisputed. On the other hand, urban transport results in costs both for the planning, construction, maintenance and operation of urban transport infrastructure and for local public transport services. In addition, motorised traffic has negative effects on humans and the environment in the form of air pollution, noise pollution, greenhouse gases, etc. These negative external effects are defined in the economy as external costs. In the newly developed allocation method, municipal expenses and revenues in the transport sector are recorded and then allocated to the different urban transport systems, truck (vehicles > 3.5t), car (vehicles ≤ 3.5t), bicycle, pedestrian traffic and local public transport, on the basis of the polluter-pays-principle

The method is based on full cost accounting, in that the total transport-related costs are allocated to (the original users of) the urban transport systems. The method is centred on the development of allocation keys based on scientific engineering findings. For a complete economic comparison, various assessment methods are presented taking the most important traffic-related external effects into account (accident costs, air pollution costs, climate change costs, noise costs and health benefits in walking and cycling). The external effects are quantified on the basis of existing national and international methods, which are monetized with corresponding (accepted) cost rates from the appropriate scientific literature. The method allows cost transparency and determines economic indicators that can serve as a basis for discussion and decision-making in the allocation of funds for the different urban transport systems. Besides that, it can be used directly for goal indicators in urban development and transportation planning.

In order to demonstrate the applicability, the method was used in three cities of different sizes in Germany (Bremen, Kassel and Kiel). The results of the practical application of the business economic comparison show that non-motorised transport modes received the lowest financial subsidies in all the cities studied (11% to 25%) and motor vehicle traffic the highest (43% to 54%). The cost coverage ratio as an economic efficiency indicator is highest in public transport (61% to 82%) and lowest in truck traffic (8% to 30%). If the external effects are taken into account in the allocation method, it becomes apparent that the largest share of total external costs is attributable to accident costs (44% to 57%) and the lowest to noise costs (4% to 9%). The main part of the external costs of approx. 85% to 92% is caused by motor vehicle traffic (car and truck traffic) and only 8% to 15% by the environmental transport systems (local public transport, bicycle and pedestrian traffic). In a comparison of passenger transport systems, car traffic is responsible for the highest external costs (60% to 79%) and pedestrian traffic for the lowest (approx. 1%). Pedestrians and cyclists not only cause very low external costs, they also generate significantly high benefits (negative costs). The results of the three model cities shows that approx. 66% to 82% are external costs in truck traffic, approx. 56% to 84% in car traffic and 11% to 37% in local public transport. The results of the method show that for full cost recovery and internalisation of external costs in the city of Kassel a mileage-related charge of 55.9 EUR-cents/km for trucks (vehicles > 3.5t) and 12.2 EU -cents/km for passenger cars (vehicles ≤ 3.5t) would have to be levied.

The project was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) within the National Cycling Plan 2020 (NCP). In this context, a "tool" was also developed, an Excel-based instrument with which the municipalities can determine the costs of the different transport systems in relation to their municipalities themselves.

Meta Infos
18. February 2018
Further information
NRVP Action Area
Planning and developing a cycling strategy