The ATAP Guidelines were developed with the following principles in mind.
- Goals- and objectives-led and responsive – All plans and actions in the transport sector should be led by high-level jurisdictional goals and supporting transport/land use system objectives, and should respond to government priorities.
- Problem-driven – A consideration of problems should always be the starting point in pursuit of goals and supporting objectives. The term 'problem' is used in the Guidelines to also include related terms such as issues, challenges, constraints and opportunities. Problems are considered the barrier preventing goals, objectives and targets from being achieved.
- Stakeholder engagement – Relevant stakeholder engagement and views should play an important role.
- Data and information – Advice to decision-makers should be supported by the best available data and information: quantitative and qualitative, objective and subjective.
- Multi-modal – Transport planning and assessment should be undertaken with a multi-modal perspective.
- Coordination – Coordinated actions and decision-making within and across levels of government are important requirements for achieving effective economic, social and environmental outcomes.
- Holistic – It is important to account for interactions within the transport system (e.g. between modes) as well as with closely related systems (e.g. land use, environment) and to consider all relevant economic, social and environmental issues (a triple bottom line focus).
- Integration – Processes in the Guidelines and actions flowing from their Framework should ensure integration within the transport system and with closely related systems (e.g. land use) and should also support and facilitate the achievement of goals and objectives (see the section below for information on the Framework).
- Strategic thinking and planning – Transport system decisions should be guided by comprehensive top‑down strategic thinking and planning that reflects jurisdiction goals and objectives. Planning should also consider bottom-up experiences and opinions.
- Proposed initiatives – Proposed transport initiatives should derive from or align with strategic plans. They should reflect priorities and be aimed at solving well understood problems.
- Assessment of problems and options – The best way to identify the preferred solution to a priority transport problem is through a disciplined evidence-based process consisting of problem assessment (including extent, severity and causation) and the identification and rigorous, unbiased assessment of a wide range of options (investment / infrastructure and reform / non-infrastructure).
- Inter-jurisdictional – For key transport problems that affect more than one jurisdiction, preferred solutions should ideally be identified and developed on a joint inter-jurisdictional basis.
Multi-stage assessment – The need for, and nature of, transport initiatives should be developed through a progressive filtering process to encourage efficient use of planning and assessment resources:
- Rigorous assessment of the problem
- Broad assessment of strategic merit / fit / alignment
- Establishment of economic, social and environmental justification (through rapid and detailed assessment of options)
- Development of an implementation plan.
- Fit-for-purpose level of detail – In applying the planning and assessment components of the Framework, the level of detail used in application needs to match the scale and complexity of the problem and proposed initiative. The larger and more complex the problem and initiative, the greater the level of detail and rigour required. For smaller and less complex problems and initiatives, simpler and streamlined versions of the processes and tools outlined in the Guidelines may be all that is required, provided the principles of good practice are still maintained.
- Prioritisation – Wherever possible, problems should be addressed in prioritised order reflecting their relative severity and importance. Proposed initiatives should also be prioritised in terms of their strategic merit/alignment and their triple bottom line justification in delivering net benefits (i.e. value for money). Some governments may also choose to prioritise between transport system objectives.
- Funding – Strategies and initiatives developed using the Guidelines and their Framework should be sensitive to the jurisdiction’s overall likely levels of funding through working closely with its Department of Treasury. Alternative funding options should also be explored.
- Private sector involvement – Appropriate private sector involvement should be encouraged where beneficial.
- Easy to use – The Guidelines should meet the needs of users, be easy to use and be rigorous and reliable.
- Comprehensive, yet easy to understand – Information on the merit of strategies and proposed initiatives should be presented to decision-makers in a way that communicates the full range of impacts. Information should be easily understood and address government objectives and priorities.
- Feedback, learning and continuous improvement – Feedback should be sought on all aspects f the Guidelines to encourage learning and continuous improvement.