Investing in transport infrastructure is frequently assumed to provide large-scale economic and employment benefits. So much so that large proportions of EU and national budgets set aside for regional assistance or economic regeneration are devoted to transportinfrastructure. Empirical evidence to support this general assumption is, however, notable byits absence.
A recent overview by a panel of leading experts in this field has concluded that there are in fact no automatic economic or employment benefits from such spending ontransport. The Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA) in the UK reviewed all the questions related to Transport and Economy. They found that benefits from transport projects may be limited, they may go to the already well off, or there may not even be any benefits. Yet decision makers, and the funding systems they have developed,continue to rely on the assumption that there are automatic benefits. The assumptions and prejudices held by Europe’s decision makers are, in fact, incorrect.