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Contact: Tony Slatyer (02) 6274 6801 Email: Tony.Slatyer@DOTARS.gov.au


  1. Research, applied transport economics

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The Bureau of Transport Economics (BTE) is an applied economics research organisation that delivers an annual research program relevant to current and emerging policy issues in the Transport and Regional Services portfolio. Program content is determined following consultation with government agencies, industry organisations, transport advisory groups, research establishments and the general research community to ensure that the research output is relevant and of value. The BTE also undertakes consultancy work for external agencies.

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Projects completed in 1998-99

Working Paper 38, Forecasting Light Vehicle Traffic, describes a series of models developed for forecasting light vehicle traffic growth on Australian highways and in cities. Traffic at each point on a highway is split into inter-regional and local components, the models making separate forecasts for each. The forecasts formed input to a nationwide assessment of road infrastructure needs carried out by the BTE in 1997 and published in Working Paper 35, Roads 2020.

BTE's Working Paper 39, Urban Transport Models: A Review, evaluates the major models used to analyse urban transport. Models are categorised into four broad groups and their strengths and weaknesses discussed.

Report 99, Adequacy of Tourism and Transport Infrastructure in Eastern Indonesia, examines the aviation transport infrastructure in Eastern Indonesia and its adequacy to support tourism development. The analysis extends beyond aviation infrastructure to include a discussion of aviation policy, and tourism development and promotion. The report was released in February 1999 at the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum and Australia-Indonesia Development Area Ministerial Meetings in Bali. The BTE presented the results of the study to a seminar attended by more than 100 Indonesian Government officials in Jakarta at the end of March 1999. Feedback indicated that the study is an important contribution toward tourism policy development for Eastern Indonesia.

BTE prepared for the Department a paper on the potential effects of videoconferencing on business air travel. A conference paper 'Video conferencing and business air travel' based on it was published in the conference proceedings of the Australasian Transport Research Forum in September 1998. Qualitative analysis indicated potential to substitute videoconferencing for business air travel, although some additional travel could also be generated. The Department is expected to use the analysis for its airport planning work.

Reports, Christmas Island Regional Analysis and Cocos (Keeling) Islands Regional Analysis provided an overview of social and economic features and factors affecting economic sustainability. They also assessed the outlook for individual activities and economic sustainability. The Department submitted the reports to the Indian Ocean Territories Review in December 1998 and released them publicly in April 1999.

The report National Competition Policy Impacts on Regional Australia makes a case that regional Australia is less readily able than metropolitan Australia to adapt to the structural changes resulting from national competition policy and, to aid this adjustment process, government intervention may be warranted. The report formed part of the Department's submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Impact of Competition Policy Reforms on Rural and Regional Australia.

Report 98 Cost of Civil Aviation Accidents and Incidents estimated the average cost of an aviation accident in 1996 at $450 000. The information is useful in developing policies to reduce the incidence of aviation accidents.

The report Monitoring of the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme finds that the Scheme appears to have been effective, particularly with regard to the increase in passenger movements, since it was introduced in September 1996. The BTE annually monitors the effectiveness of the Scheme, noting movements in service operators' costs and revenues and the number of eligible passenger vehicles carried.

Occasional Paper 115, Trading Greenhouse Emissions: Some Australian Perspectives, is a collection of contributions of leading Australians in the field and presents a range of perspectives on domestic and international trading of greenhouse emissions. It was released in October 1998 to allow its consideration by the Australian delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Buenos Aires in November 1998.

The BTE held on 24-27 May 1999 its second Transport Colloquium based on four themes: 'Workshop on Cost-Benefit Analysis and Multi-Criteria Analysis', 'Transport Policy and Practice', 'Research Needs: Findings and Directions', and 'Defence: Civilian Transport Infrastructure Access Arrangements'. The last day was organised jointly with the Department of Defence.

The BTE carried out an analysis for the Department of Defence of the aviation industry's capability to support the defence services during an emergency.

The BTE also carried out an analysis for Environment Australia of the impact of various taxation regimes on transport fuel use and on the composition of vehicle fleets. The study was relevant to the debate on taxation reform in Australia. A publication, Analysis of the Impact of the proposed Taxation Changes on Transport Fuel Use and the Alternative Fuel Market, was released by Environment Australia in June 1999.

The BTE prepared a report for Austroads, The Willingness to Pay Method for Valuing Road Accidents, which canvasses various options for attaching values to human life and injuries in costing accidents.

An officer from the BTE was one of a panel of nine experts in environmental valuation responsible for peer-reviewing summaries and results reported in the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority's ENVALUE database. ENVALUE is a collection of environmental valuation studies and is available on the Internet.

Projects in train

In addition to the planned work program listed above, the Bureau initiated several other research projects.

  • Study, The Regional Aviation Industry, for the Standing Committee on Transport (SCOT) Aviation Working Group, highlighted the potential for uncompetitive pricing practices in the regional aviation industry due to the strong involvement of domestic airlines, the limited pool of potential competitors, and the existence of barriers to market entry. Preliminary findings were presented in June 1999 and the final report is planned to be completed by December 1999.
  • Study, Competitive Neutrality between Road and Rail on the Major Intercity Freight Corridors compared the modal costs under the current situation with costs under a 'consistent competitive regime' and under an 'economically rational competitive regime'. The study examines a 'new technology' scenario for rail and incorporates proposed new tax arrangements. It was finalised in August 1999.
  • Information Paper 44, Australian Transport Data: A Compendium of Sources, was published in August 1999. The Compendium lists more than 1800 sources of transport data, indexed by subject and author, and covering all transport modes including pipelines. It includes a section on externalities: the public costs imposed on society by transport, including air pollution, noise, greenhouse gas emissions, congestion and accidents.
  • The report The Equity and Access Component in Road Expenditure discusses the reasons governments spend more on roads than could be justified on economic grounds alone, in order to promote social and equity objectives. A method for identifying and costing equity and access components for existing road networks is developed and results of case studies reported. The report will be published in late 1999.
  • The report Facts, Fallacies, and Furphies in Benefit-Cost Analysis: Transport explores multi-criteria analysis, the choice of discount rate, the potential contribution of national economic models, regional development effects and business logistic adaptations. Principal conclusions from the work were presented at the BTE Transport Colloquium in May 1999. The final report is expected to be published in October 1999.
  • A working paper examining the potential effect of tax changes on the gap between city and country prices for groceries is expected to be published in October 1999.
  • A database of estimates of transport elasticities (measures that show how sensitive the demand for transport is to changes in prices and other variables) is being prepared for release in January 2000.
  • A report on the costs and benefits of eliminating level-crossings in Wodonga was finalised in July 1999.

Projects deferred

The following four projects identified in the 1998-99 Portfolio Budget Statements were delayed because staff resources were diverted to higher-priority activities:

  • examination of key points of modal freight interface, now to be produced in 1999-2000 as a Working Paper on the Australian logistics industry;
  • the proposed study of the economic contribution of regional ports to their hinterland areas, now to be produced in 1999-2000 as a Working Paper Regional Impact of Ports;
  • the Working Paper Forecasting Australian Freight Traffic, delayed until 1999-2000; and
  • the scope of the Working Paper Cost of Road Accidents has been expanded. It is now expected to be published as a report in 1999-2000.

Proposed working papers Cost of documentation requirements on international trade and Port location and spatial land use issues have been deleted from the BTE research program.


Airfare database

The BTE maintains a database of airfare details by airline, a research tool to help develop aviation policy. Monthly survey results of domestic inter-state and intra-state published fares are aggregated into indices and published in the Bureau's Transport Indicators series.

Maritime database

The BTE collects a range of maritime data and publishes selected statistics in Transport Indicators and Waterline. The database covers international cargo statistics, Lloyd's ship movements, coastal freight and crew-berth rates. During 1998-99 the BTE received 160 requests for statistical analysis.


The BTE released in July 1999 an updated version of the AEROCOST 2 model and manual. AEROCOST 2 estimates the direct cost of operating aircraft - jets, freighters, turboprops and piston engine planes - over a range of domestic and international air routes. The model is available for purchase from the BTE.


The BTE continued to produce the quarterly statistical publication Waterline, which records quarterly stevedoring performance and crew-to-berth ratios of Australian shipping and reliability indicators for waterfront performance and, on a biannual basis, port performance.

Transport Indicators is now available on the Department's website as data becomes available.

A comprehensive list of publications produced by the BTE can be found on the BTE website.

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