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Chapter 16: Ethics and the ex ante evaluation of mega-projects
Policy-making in general, and also therefore transport policy-making, implies making choices. For infrastructure-related policies examples are budget allocations for infrastructure in general, and choosing between alternatives for a new road or railway line. Because of all the choices to be made, there is a huge need for ex ante evaluation of the choice options. An important question therefore is: how can potential options for future transport projects and policies be evaluated? In many countries nowadays (social) cost–benefit analysis (CBA) is a very popular ex ante evaluation method (Bristow and Nellthorp, 2000; Hayashi and Morisugi, 2000; Grant-Muller et al., 2001). A CBA is basically an overview of all the pros (benefits) and cons (costs) of a project or policy option. These costs and benefits are quantified as far as possible and expressed in monetary terms. Costs and benefits that occur in different years are discounted and presented as so-called net present values. Final results are often presented in summarizing indicators, such as the difference between costs and benefits, the return on investment and the cost–benefit ratio. See Chapter 12 for more information on CBAs for mega-projects. Research into the use of ex ante evaluation frameworks shows that CBA is used at least in some stage of the evaluation (Odgaard et al., 2005; Thomopoulos et al., 2009; Chapter13 in this book).
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