Mastering asset fundamentals
Transport infrastructure asset owners must embrace an inclusive, life cycle-oriented project prioritisation strategy. Once network plans are created, owners evaluate the potential of assets, based on network objectives, direct welfare impacts, second-order effects like environmental impact, and delivery readiness. For existing assets, owners must leverage efficiency and capacity enhancement planning to augment asset value and curtail unnecessary costs of new construction. In developing assets that improve, or at least maintain, economic and social welfare over the long term, comprehensive multi-criteria asset analysis is crucial. Clear prioritisation basis impact and delivery readiness assessment reveal feasible winners. With the advancement in technology and the onset of big data analytics, it becomes easier to convene rigorous and objective project evaluations with accurate results.
Emphasising network solutions over asset solutions
Across the world, countries, have faced underutilisation or excessive congestion in certain transport modes due to non-integrated asset planning. In India, for example, coastal shipping accounts for close to six per cent of the country’s total domestic freight due to poor hinterland connectivity. An effective transport network relies heavily on efficient road systems integrated with airports, railway stations, ports and logistics hubs. Transport infrastructure asset owners need to adopt an integrated inter-modal plan through a three-pronged analysis, including fundamental, strategic and tactical levers that focus on network design, impact and optimisation respectively.
Consider the expansion of the Rotterdam port in Netherlands, where capacity was increased three times. Hinterland strategies were integrated into the expansion plan to ensure the trunk roads, railways and waterways connecting to the port had sufficient capacity to handle increased container volumes.
Integrated transport and land-use planning
The desire for quality urban amenities and easy access to transit modes is a major driving factor in investments made by transport infrastructure asset owners. Forward-thinking owners are developing compact establishments, typically within a half mile distance of transit stations called transit-oriented developments (TOD). TOD is an exciting and fast growing trend in creating sustainable and connected communities. These establishments integrate urban mass transit systems with mixed-use spaces (commercial, residential and civic) to increase location efficiency, reduce congestion by boosting multimodal transit ridership and provide an attractive sense of community. In northern Virginia, TODs have added 15 million square feet of commercial space, 20,000 residences and two million square feet of retail.
Transport infrastructure asset owners must build capabilities that conduct robust, data-driven and proactive asset planning and selection processes that explicitly avoid the short-term, dependent, uni-modal bias of the past. Every new development in transport infrastructure needs to have an underpinning consideration for linkage to other modes of transit as well as geographies. Owners should be adept at gearing urban development by strategically integrating transit modes, transport networks and land uses. Holistic planning is the key to unlock future growth and global integration.
Vasanta is principal and Subudhi is partner and leads the infrastructure practice for The Boston Consulting Group