Theses Doctoral

Urban Transport Project Prioritization Strategy in Developing Countries: A Scenario-Based Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis Perspective

Liu, Muqing

Given unprecedented levels of urbanization and motorization in developing countries and deteriorating infrastructure in developed countries, cities around the world have been facing the enormous challenge of delivering sustainable forms of infrastructure with fewer resources. In the developing world, the challenges in urban infrastructure investment become even more daunting as manifested by the staggering size of infrastructure funding gap. $1 trillion per annum over the period by 2020 is required by developing countries to meet the demand of rapid urbanization and to address the backlogs and deficiencies for infrastructure facilities (World Bank 2013). Therefore, prioritizing projects at the system level based on transparent and evidenced-based decision-making processes has emerged as one of the most promising ways to bridge such enormous funding gaps, especially for developing countries.
Nevertheless, effective prioritization of infrastructure projects is hindered by a series of constraints including institutionalized inefficiency, inadequate data obstructing decision making, insufficient coordination among various stakeholders, lack of public consultation, lack of technical capacity for project evaluation and prioritization, and lack of consideration of possible alternatives in the infrastructure planning. Although there has been considerable discussion regarding the shortcomings of contemporary metropolitan transportation planning, there has been little effort to develop a strategy for prioritizing urban transport projects in developing countries. This calls for a new approach to addressing the above-mentioned issues.
This thesis first presents the current status and general characteristics of urban transport decision-making in developed and developing countries alike. It then provides a comprehensive literature review on the evolution and application of scenario planning and multi-criteria, specifically in the field of transportation projects prioritization and transportation planning. As the main contribution of this research effort to current research, a novel project prioritization framework - which incorporates scenario planning into multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) for prioritizing urban transport projects - is proposed to support sustainable urban transport development, through the efficient use of existing project evaluation information and emergent scenario of various stakeholder's input. Such integration of scenario planning and MCDA provides a balanced view of both the analytical and intuitive components of the decision-making process and allow comparisons between different roles of various stakeholders.
The framework is then applied to set priorities for nine recent urban transport projects constructed within a two-year framework in the Tianjin Binhai New Area, China. In addition, a case study on World Bank's infrastructure investment portfolio in China is also conducted in which a selection of urban transport projects in eight different cities is ranked. The results show that the proposed framework could serve as a consistent, robust and comprehensive infrastructure project prioritization strategy that reconciles diverse perspectives among stakeholders while introducing sustainability in urban transport decision making and linking the prioritization process to the transportation planning that precedes it.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Thesis Advisors
Peña-Mora, Feniosky A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 21, 2015