Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Chris Nash
Chapter 1: Introduction
Why a handbook on methodology for transport economics and policy? It is a reasonable question. Transport economics is an application of economics so surely the methodology is simply that of economics? To a degree that is true, but transport as a product has various characteristics which require careful attention if misleading conclusions are to be avoided. Transport is a derived demand, which is in general only valued for the activities it makes possible. It is a service, which is non storable (if it is not sold when produced then it is simply wasted in the form of empty capacity). Much transport is produced on own account (private motoring and own account road haulage) and even when it is not, it involves a substantial input of the user’s own time and effort. It is subject to economies of scale and scope, particularly in the infrastructure but also in the services themselves: increases in frequency, other things being equal, provide more capacity but also a better service as passengers or freight can be moved at a time nearer their ideal. But the infrastructure and services do provide numerous distinct products in the form of transport between a particular origin and destination at a particular time.