Transport is a critical investment sector for economic development. About 20% of lending from Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) goes to Transport. However, there is limited evidence of its impact through rigorous techniques of evaluation. In fact, impact evaluations (IEs) on transport accounted for less than 1% of all IEs globally between 1981 and 2012.
In addition, compared with other sectors, transport IEs typically have a large scale, more intensive data requirements, and present unique methodological challenges.
Specific IEs are designed during workshops that bring together economists from the Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) team and from the World Bank Transport Global Practice, operational project teams, government officials, and external IE experts. The teams prepare proposals that can be the basis for technical assistance and financial support to help projects conduct an IE and use resulting evidence to make policy decisions. Only a limited set of IE proposals that meet technical quality standards are selected through a competitive technical review process.
Advances in data and technology have created new opportunities to work on the evaluation of large infrastructure investments. The ieConnect program has prioritized the development and expansion of data systems using new technologies, including geospatial, crowdsourced, and sensor data, coupled with new and existing datasets. This builds local capacity and strengthens government agencies’ basis for evidence-based decision making for transport investments in the long term.
In 2020 The program has over 30 impact evaluations in 23 countries. It brings together the operational and research expertise of the World Bank on transport, and it has emerged as a key program to enhance the understanding of transport policies and investments. Examples of policy impact include:
- Rwanda Rural Roads: In 2019, this IE made substantial progress in the analysis of the impact of the large rural road upgrading program on markets and households in remote rural areas. A data system linked to this activity has been developed since 2013 and adopted by the government to prioritize investments. It is being used to measure the impacts on corridor projects, thus forming the basis for monitoring and evaluation for the entire transport sector.
- Rio de Janeiro Gender Segregated Public Transport: This evaluation concluded in 2019 and published in June 2020 captures the economic costs of sexual harassment on a woman’s commute, by randomizing the price of women-reserved “safe spaces'” on the Rio de Janeiro suburban rail system. It found that the welfare implications of creating women-reserved spaces in public transport are ambiguous. Results of this study were discussed with the client to make the case for more enforcement efforts to decrease male presence in the women-only cars. It also identified unexpected impacts of anti-harassment actions, helping make better policy decisions possible.
- Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit: The IE was concluded in September 2020 analyzed the impact of Phase I of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the city on travel times, commuter safety, job creation, income, property values, and health, wealth and happiness of Dar residents. Given the Tanzanian Government’s plans to construct phases 2–6 of the BRT, the results are critical to inform policy. The goal is to build a strong feedback loop of evidence-based information and analysis for future BRT planning, implementation, and management. The implementing agency is also using evidence on travel times, public transport ridership, urban mobility, job search costs, private vehicle usage, and inter-firm trade to spur further investment.
Bank Group Contribution
The ieConnect for Impact program is a collaboration between the Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) Department in the Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC) and the World Bank Transport Global Practice from the Infrastructure Practice Group. It links World Bank investment projects with research expertise during workshops that bring together economists from the World Bank (DIME team and the Transport Global Practice), operational project teams, government officials, and external IE experts. Since 2015, the World Bank has contributed with $1.8 million to ensure the involvement of transport economist and operational teams in the delivery of the program, in addition to funding from donors.
The program has been funded with United Kingdom (UK) aid from the UK government with a commitment of over $17.6 million for this program since 2015.
The ieConnect for Impact program is generating a significant body of evidence through the development of data systems and experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations. The program improves the availability and quality of data that can be used for measuring the impact of transport projects; it also generates the evidence that can be used to improve decision making for transport investments in the long-term.
The ieConnect for Impact program seeks to influence policy decisions in the transport projects it works with and to create the demand for other World Bank follow-on projects. Innovative approaches stemming from this work, such as the use of new technologies and the development of data systems, as described in the previous section, have been scaled up and applied to several projects.
The ultimate beneficiaries of the ieConnect for Impact and its recommendations are the millions of people in developing countries who use transport systems improved based on the findings of the evaluations. Government officials and transport decision makers benefit by having their capacity to devise and implement impactful policies with more and higher quality data, and to generate evidence for improved investment decision-making in the long-term. “Policy makers don’t have the habits of incorporating impact evaluation into policy making, building data systems around the BRT construction is going to help other countries to learn from and replicate…” Amath Ndiaye, Conseil Exécutif des Transports Urbains de Dakar (CETUD), Senegal.