How has transport system evolved over time? What was the impact of public transport policy on the efficiency of the system? What were the effects of the system and accessibility on a region’s productivity? The study “Transport Systems in Portugal: Analysis of Efficiency and Regional Impact”, coordinated by Carlos Oliveira Cruz, professor at IST Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Georesources (DECivil) and researcher at CERIS – Civil Engineering Research and Innovation for Sustainability, and presented by the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation (FFMS), answers these questions.
The study lasted approximately 2 years, and analyses the effects of the 2008 financial crisis and Troika’s intervention, as well as the impact of some political measures applied in the last decades in Portugal. The study highlights the greater participation of the private sector (road and railway privatisations and concessions), but also mergers (Estradas de Portugal and REFER were merged into one new company -Infraestruturas de Portugal) and acquisitions (the case of the acquisition of Portugália).
“The study covers two distinct topics: the first one focused on the efficiency of companies, that is, it evaluates how transport companies have been able to optimise resources and maximise their impact, and how the various public policies have influenced this efficiency; the second one focused on the analysis of the regional impact of transport systems on the productivity of the different regions of the country”, explains professor Carlos Oliveira Cruz.
The results of this study are available at the FFMS website. “We concluded that there have been a number of factors, such as concessions, privatisations and mergers, which had a real impact on business efficiency and, therefore, may be taken into account in the future”, stresses the Técnico professor. According to the study, there has been an improvement in transport companies in the past 20 years.
With regard to the second topic, the study concluded that the regional impacts were very asymmetrical, “the Lisbon region was one of the regions that most benefited from the impacts of the development of the national highways, so we must ask ourselves about our inability to reduce regional inequalities”, stresses professor Carlos Oliveira Cruz.
The study was carried out by a research team composed of Vítor Faria e Sousa, Técnico professor and CERIS researcher, Álvaro Costa, professor at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (FEUP), Joaquim Miranda Sarmento, professor at the Lisbon School of Economics and Management (ISEG), and João Fragoso Januário, Técnico PhD student and CERIS researcher.
The CERIS researcher highlights “one of the goals of this study was to develop quantitative analysis based on replicable data and methodologies to assess and support public decision-making”. “In order to maximise the impact of the upcoming infrastructure projects, we need more and better scientific evidence in order to strengthen the decision process”, stresses the Técnico professor.
According to professor Carlos Oliveira Cruz, this study is just “a starting point”. “New ideas have emerged from this study, which we think it is fundamental for deepening the relationship between public policies, regional impact and efficiency in the field of infrastructure and transport systems”.