Over the past three years, the international community has made significant progress to fill in the knowledge gaps in the transport sector. Most recently, with the release of the Global Roadmap of Action toward Sustainable Mobility (GRA) by Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All), the transport sector now has at its disposal a catalogue of more than 180 policy measures that have been used by countries around the world to progress on sustainable mobility. Because this catalogue was developed as a collaborate enterprise involving the most 55 influential international organizations on the field, we feel confident that it represents the best and most-up-to date knowledge on mobility.
As we engage with country decision-makers on their policy agenda, new questions have been raised: What is the impact of those policy measures on mobility? What are the broader outcomes such as income, jobs and economic development? Can we combine these policy measures to optimize impact? Do we have the enough data and evidence to support a dialogue with decision-makers on those policy measures?
Fortunately, the answer is yes—but not yet fully. Four years ago, with the support from the UK government, the World Bank invested on a massive program of impact evaluations entirely dedicated to transport. It was not a small undertaking. In fact, very little rigorous work on impact work had been done so far (less than 1% of all IEs work).
By bringing together the operational and the research expertise of the World Bank on transport, the IE Connect for Impact program has emerged as a key tool to enhance our understanding of transport policies and investments. As a result, the program has more than 30 impact evaluation activities in more than 20 countries.
Through this program, we have started to document the actual impact of the most trusted policy and investment interventions in transport and unpack how it is being achieved. This data and learning will feed into the catalogue of the GRA by enabling to associate policy measures with impact.
Let’s look at three examples:
- In Rwanda, the IE program uses multiple sets of data to look at one of the most popular interventions to promote universal access in rural areas: the expansion of the all-season road network. Preliminary results are promising with rural road rehabilitation increasing income in remote areas by a 30% within the first year, which means that feeder road rehabilitation leads to a substantial catch-up for lagging households.
- In Tanzania, the program focuses on the “expansion of public transport infrastructure”— another important policy intervention to promote universal access in cities. Here, preliminary evidence shows that households near the new bus-based public transport system, also known as Bus Rapid Transit or BRT, are significantly more satisfied with their transport options; and that commuting time and cost fell throughout the city with the largest time drops near the BRT line. In addition, early results show that modal share is changing slowly toward more sustainable modes of transport with a decrease of use of private vehicles and dala-dalas (minibus share taxis in Tanzania).
- In Kenya, the program has built data capabilities that help understand complex problems pertaining to road safety and urban mobility. The new data system includes digitized police crash reports, geo-located tweets about road crashes, Waze and Google data, survey site characteristics, among others. This data allows us to answer questions such as, where and when do road crashes happen? What characterizes high-risk times and locations? Who is responsible for road crashes? In this case, the SuM4All’s catalogue of measures can help to identify a menu of policy interventions that other countries have considered to address road crashes.
Innovation, data and technology are other angles that tie the ieConnect for Impact program and SuM4All. The ieConnect for Impact has been looking at a range of data sets including geospatial, crowd-sourced, and sensor data. It has also helped countries identify what is needed in terms of data, and how these data sets can be used to document impact, as well as where finance and investments can be most impactful. SuM4All has been complementing this effort by developing a country dashboard to track and monitor progress on transport and sustainable mobility at the country level. The Transport Global Tracking Framework includes more than 30 indicators, and an additional 70 will be added in January 2020 with global data coverage.
With that said, both the ieConnect program and SuM4All are strongly contributing to building and improving the knowledge of the transport sector in a systematic and strategic way. They both seek to improve the quality of the policy dialogue with client countries on transport and mobility and, ultimately, help them make the right policy and investment choices for economic development.