UNIfication of accounts and marginal costs for Transport Efficiency
What is the purpose of UNITE?
Fair and efficient pricing of transport infrastructure use is a fundamental
aspect of developing a sustainable transport policy that takes account of the
full social costs and benefits of transport. UNITE will supply policymakers
with the framework and state-of-the-art cost estimates to progress this policy.
UNITE has three core objectives:
- to develop pilot transport accounts for all modes, for the
EU15 and additional countries;
- to provide a comprehensive set of marginal cost estimates
relevant to transport contexts around Europe; and
- deliver a framework for integration of accounts and marginal
costs, consistent with public finance economics and the role of transport
charging in the European economy.
These objectives will be achieved by a European research team with significant
depth and breadth of experience in all of the core areas of research.
Structure of the work
The workplan for UNITE includes three stages of: methodological development
(year 1), empirical estimation (year 2), and synthesis (year 3). To maximise
exploitation, key European and National decision-makers will be integrated within
the project from day 1, through an Advisory Board and a Research User Group.
In the first stage the overall UNITE methodology has been established (May
2000) and the accounts approach and marginal cost methodology was created (November
2000). These provide fundamental inputs into the integration of approaches.
In the second stage (from Autumn 2000-December 2001), the emphasis moves towards
the implementation of the accounts and marginal cost methodologies, in parallel
with the elaboration of the integration of approaches work. This second phase
also includes substantial methodological development for both the accounts and
the marginal cost approaches. In the final stage (January 2002) the focus becomes
the determination of future strategies for developing the three core aspects
of the project, and the overall consolidation of the research results. The need
to support the policy development process means that in all stages producing
deliverables early is a key priority.
The key outputs that will be produced in the course of UNITE will be:
- theoretical development of alternative frameworks for the
integration of transport accounts and
- marginal cost estimates;
- empirical results on the transport and economy-wide outcomes
from alternative integration approaches;
- pilot transport accounts for:
- 18 countries (EU15, Estonia, Hungary and Switzerland),
- the years 1996, 1998 and 2005;
- all significant passenger and freight modes.
- guidance on future approaches to the development of transport
- a clearly presented methodology which advances the state-of-the-art
in marginal cost estimation;
- empirical estimates of marginal costs for:
- the key cost, benefit and revenue categories
- various contexts around Europe
- a wide range of passenger and freight modes;
- guidance on how to transfer marginal cost estimates to new
contexts, to maximise the value-added
- offered by the new empirical results.
UNITE is a part of the European Union’s Fifth RTD Framework Programme
(1998-2002) in the thematic programme Competitive and Sustainable
It builds on previous European research such as the Concerted Action on Transport
Pricing Research Integration (CAPRI)
and the High Level Group on Infrastructure Charging. At the empirical level,
projects such as ExternE and QUITS (environment) and TRENEN, PETS and the ongoing
UIC study on the External Costs of Transport (multiple cost categories) have
provided valuable evidence on the nature and valuation of costs. For transport
accounts, examples of accounts for multiple modes are available for Germany,
France and Switzerland, whilst focusing on the road sector, the UK Road Track
Cost and USA Federal Highway Cost Allocation Study provide illustrations of
attempts to compare costs with revenues for individual vehicle classes. A range
of cost allocation approaches have been examined in DIW et al. (1998) - that
work will be extended and developed within UNITE.
Looking forward, major dissemination meetings are planned for UNITE in September
2001 (Paris) and mid-2002 (Leuven, near Brussels). Details will be posted
at this site in due course.
Publicly available deliverables and conference papers will be made available
through the linked pages on deliverables.