4. Framework Overview

4.1 The Framework

The ATAP Guidelines are structured around a Transport System Management Framework (the ATAP Framework or the Framework) shown in Figure 1. The Framework is an activity and decision-support system, with a logical, multi-step approach aimed at achieving the high-level goals and transport system objectives[1] of a jurisdiction, or across jurisdictions.

The Framework aligns with the principles listed above. It was developed by revising the 2006 NGTSM Framework to align more closely with Infrastructure Australia’s Reform and Investment Framework (IA RIF). The revised Framework is essentially a combination of those two frameworks.

Figure 1: Transport System Management Framework

Transport System Management Framework

The Framework shown in Figure 1 provides a systematic process for contributing to the achievements of a jurisdiction’s high-level goals.

  • Step 1 involves the identification of high-level jurisdiction goals (1A), and supporting transport objectives, targets and KPIs (1B).
  • The policy choices and system planning phase involves repeated application of an ‘objective-problem-option’ focus (Steps 1B to 3) to the various levels of planning. It provides direction-setting guidance for all major transport system decisions.
  • A core element of system planning is integrated transport and land use planning occurring across all planning levels.
  • Step 4 is the culmination of the planning process, resulting in a Business Case for each proposed initiative that demonstrates the proposal has merit, is sensible and is justified.
  • In Steps 5 and 6, the range of justified initiatives are prioritised, compiled into an overall program of highest priority initiatives, and delivered.
  • Step 7 involves review of proposals after they have been delivered, plus reviews of all aspects of the Framework.
  • These steps and phases are complemented throughout by key supporting processes: stakeholder engagement, use of quantitative and qualitative data and evidence in planning, assessments, appraisals, benefit management and evaluations.
  • Finally, there is a theme of feedback, reviews and continuous improvement throughout to ensure the learnings from practice can further improve the Framework and its use on an ongoing basis.

Box 3 Changes from 2006 NGTSM

The key changes to the ATAP Framework from 2006 are:

  • The term ‘goals’ (from the IA Reform and Investment Framework (RIF)) has been added to support ‘objectives’ (from the ATAP Guidelines).
  • The role of integrated multi-modal planning has been strengthened, including clearer recognition of the importance of integration between transport and land use at all levels of planning.
  • Policy choices have been grouped with system planning (without diluting the role of the former).
  • The ATAP Guidelines term ‘challenge’ has been replaced with the term ‘problem’ (from the IA RIF).
  • The role of problems and options has been strengthened in line with the IA RIF.
  • There is a clearer recognition that ideas for potential initiatives should flow from strategic system planning through the resulting suite of strategies, policies and plans based on good evidence-based thinking. These ideas then need further investigation before they can become sound proposed initiatives.

4.2 A top-down strategic focus – with bottom-up information

The Framework has a whole-of-system focus, takes a multi-modal perspective, uses integrated planning and considers both investment/infrastructure and reform/non-infrastructure options.

Each step integrates with and facilitates implementation of the previous steps.

The Framework takes a primary top-down approach (in Figure 1, top-down is represented by left-right.) This facilitates strategic advice to decision makers and enables individual proposed initiatives to be designed so they contribute to achieving an overall strategic direction.

The top-down approach is complemented by application of bottom-up information (in Figure 1, bottom-up is represented by right-left) and feedback and two-way interaction between steps. This means the top-down and bottom-up approaches are used in a complementary manner to ensure a productive balance.

4.3 Applications

The Framework can be applied to a range of transport settings:

  • Jurisdictional - federal, state and territory, local government and joint
  • Geographical - urban, non-urban, interstate, intrastate, regional and remote.

It is acknowledged that applying the Framework may not be as simple as the linear structure represented in Figure 1. The Framework must be applied in the complex environment of government decision-making, which involves competing objectives, trade-offs, constraints, uncertainty, multiple options and quantifiable as well as unquantifiable impacts.

This means the process may not be strictly sequential as illustrated in Figure 1. Steps overlap, activities in some steps occur more than once following feedback from other steps, there are direct links between non-sequential steps (e.g. safety objectives and safety programs) and there is no single start or end point.

The Framework recognises these complicating factors. It seeks to assist decision-making by reducing complexity and adding objectivity, consistency, rigour and transparency. It does this by breaking the decision-making process into inter-related steps and making good use of data, information and analysis. In addition, the Framework operates with feedback and two-way iterations between steps. It also has a review and improvement focus so lessons can be learned to help improve the Framework and its future application.

The Framework aims to be as objective as possible, while recognising that like many decision-making processes, some degree of subjectivity and judgment is involved.

However, these complications do not detract from the usefulness of the Framework. It identifies the key steps for good decision-making and demonstrates key relationships between the steps necessary to deliver integrated and consistent transport systems. In the absence of a structured approach, government decision-making can lack consistency, and risk misallocating resources and limiting the achievement of high-level goals and objectives.

4.4 Transport system elements

The Framework describes the transport system as consisting of five elements – link, route, corridor, area and network (see Box 4). The ATAP Guidelines Glossary provides a detailed interpretation of the transport system elements in various settings (e.g. interstate, intrastate, urban).

4.5 Integrated planning levels

The Framework features:

  • A hierarchy of integrated planning levels (see Figure 2). The hierarchy concept was introduced in the 2006 Guidelines. Two additional top levels have been added: planning at the jurisdiction(s) or markets level (e.g. urban transport) and city-wide or region-wide planning
  • Integration between transport and land use occurs at all levels of planning

Figure 2: Hierarchy of integrated system planning levels

Hierarchy of integrated system planning levels

The early levels of planning focus on the whole jurisdiction, markets or an entire city or region. At these levels, planning occurs across all aspects of development (land use, infrastructure, services). The outputs are strategies at the jurisdiction, market, metropolitan or regional level. The outputs may include ‘planning strategies’ and complementary ‘transport strategies’ or similarly named high-level outputs.

Planning also occurs at the transport network level. Traditionally, network planning focused on planning for individual modes. The ATAP Guidelines have a multi-modal focus based on a philosophy that modal planning should be replaced, or preceded, by multi-modal planning. Multi-modal planning focuses on serving people and freight rather than individual modes. The National Land Transport Network is an example of a multi-modal network, consisting of road and rail routes and links.

More detailed planning then occurs at corridor, area, route and link levels.

Part F0.1 Policy Choices and System Planning provides a more detailed discussion of planning at each level. This Part also includes discussion of the role played by policy choices as both inputs and outputs of planning processes.

Box 4 Transport system elements

The Framework incorporates the following basic definitions of the transport system and its elements. The Glossary provides more detailed definitions.

  1. A link is a homogeneous segment of a route. An inter-modal facility where people or freight are transferred from one mode to another is also categorised as a link – and is sometimes referred to as a node in the network.
  2. A route is a physical pathway connecting two locations for a particular mode. Transport services operate along these pathways. In land transport, the pathway consists of a continuous length of infrastructure. Shipping lanes and air routes are delineated by operating or regulatory or administrative practices rather than by infrastructure. The route concept is the basis for the definitions of higher elements in the hierarchy.
  3. A corridor comprises the parallel/competing modal routes between two locations, such as road and rail routes between two capital cities. A corridor is multi-modal where two or more modes operate and is uni-modal where just a single mode operates (mainly in rural areas). It also includes the adjoining land uses.
  4. An area consists of a defined geographic space and all the transport routes within it. An area focus, rather than a corridor focus, is often required in urban (transport and land use) planning to best account for the highly complex interactions in urban settings (such as intersecting routes and dispersed population, activities, trip origins and trip destinations).
  5. A network incorporates all the routes that provide inter-connected pathways between multiple locations for similar traffics. Networks can be multi-modal or uni-modal. A multi‑modal network typically comprises several uni-modal networks. Examples include:
    • The National Land Transport Network (multi-modal) – which comprises the national highway network and the interstate mainline rail network and serves longer-distance traffic of national significance
    • The Intrastate Transport Network (multi-modal) – which comprises the rural arterial road network and rural intrastate rail network and serves longer-distance non-urban traffic within a state or territory
    • The Urban Transport Network (multi-modal) – which includes the urban arterial road network, public transport network and cycling network and services traffic within a city.

Planning at each level considers demand factors (land use, population, economic and social activities) and supply factors (infrastructure) relevant to the level.

Initiatives can span various planning levels. For example, an initiative could occur within a link (e.g. adding a road turning bay or rail crossing loop) across the whole link (e.g. a road duplication) or across an entire route (e.g. rail signal upgrading between Melbourne and Sydney or over-dimensional vehicle routes through or around urban areas).

A transport system for a jurisdiction (or a multi-jurisdictional setting) comprises all relevant transport networks, user, regulatory and management sub-systems, the transport operational environment and physical and social environments.

4.6 Planning processes and planning outputs in the Framework

Figure 3 is an expanded version of Figure 1. It shows more detail how the Framework is expected to operate across the integrated planning levels, and the key outputs.

Figure 3: The Framework showing planning levels and outputs

The Framework showing planning levels and outputs

An important feature to note in Figure 3 is the way the ‘problems and options’ principle is applied across the ‘hierarchy of planning levels’. Steps 1B to 3 are replicated across each level of the planning hierarchy. This is because the principles outlined in the IA RIF–of planning being driven by a ‘problems and options’ focus–should apply at all levels of system planning.

This ‘problems and options’ principle essentially says that:

  • A consideration of problems–through their identification, rigorous assessment and prioritisation–should always be the starting point in pursuit of jurisdictional and national goals and supporting transport system objectives
  • Consideration and rigorous assessment of a range of options for addressing those problems should follow to enable sound decisions.

As mentioned in section 4.3, there is no unique sequence of activities for applying the activities shown in Figure 3 in all circumstances or settings. The activities must be applied in the complex environment of government decision-making. This means the process may not be strictly sequential as shown. The primary examples of this that have arisen in development of the ATAP Guidelines are:[2]

  • Whether policy choices are inputs to, or outputs from, planning
  • The exact sequence of network, area, corridor, route and link planning.

The approach outlined in Figure 3 can be applied in a range of ways that best suit the needs and institutional arrangements in each jurisdiction. In doing so, jurisdictions should ensure that their processes display the central features of the framework: planning driven by high-level jurisdiction goals and transport system objectives determined by governments; integrated planning; initiative ideas arising from the suite of strategies and policies; a strong focus on the ‘problem-options’ logic; all planning and assessment based on good evidence-based thinking; and making the case for an initiative through the use of a sound Business Case.

4.7 Framework inputs and outputs

A final tool for providing an overview of the Framework is provided in Table 1. This table illustrates the inputs and outputs for individual steps of the Framework.

Table 1: Framework inputs and outputs
Step Inputs Outputs Outputs by planning levels
1. Goals, Objectives, Targets and KPIs
  • Societal and whole-of-govt goals
  • Whole-of-government strategic plans
  • Feedback from other steps
  • Transport system objectives
  • Transport system targets
  • Transport system objectives, targets and KPIs translated to the other lower planning levels
Integrated objectives
  • Integrated transport objectives across hierarchy of planning levels
  • Policy choices (which can also be inputs to planning)
  • Defined multi-modal networks
  • System strategies, policies & plans for: jurisdiction(s), markets, cities, regions, networks, system outcomes (safety, environment, social)
  • Integrated and multi-modal
  • Integration between transport and land use at all planning levels
Area and corridor planning
  • Area and corridor strategies and plans
  • Integrated and multi-modal
Route and link plans
  • Route and link plans
  • Integrated and multi-modal (where relevant)
Initiative ideas
  • Identified initiative ideas for further investigations
2. Problems Identification, Assessment and Priority
  • Step 1 outputs
  • Feedback from other steps
  • Transport system performance indicators
  • Data, information, models, tools
  • Problem statements
  • Problem assessments with documented evidence of problem severity and causes
  • Problem priorities
3. Options Generation and Assessment
  • Step 2 outputs
  • Feedback from other steps
  • Data, information, models, tools
  • List of reform / non-investment and investment options
  • Documented rigorous option assessments
  • Preferred option/solution
4. Business Cases for Proposed Initiatives
  • Step 3 outputs
  • Feedback from other steps
  • Data, information
  • For each assessed initiative, business case justifying preferred solution
  • Supporting technical assessment reports and implementation plans
  • Refer to as “justified initiative”
5. Prioritisation of Initiatives and Program Development
  • All justified initiatives from Step 4
  • Feedback from other steps
  • Data and information
  • Priority list of justified initiatives by time frames
  • Initiatives funded through annual budgets
  • Overall program of funded initiatives
  • Funds allocated
6. Delivery
  • Step 5 outputs
  • Feedback from other steps
  • Detailed design of initiatives
  • Budget management
  • Project management
  • Selection of delivery mechanisms
  • Initiative delivered on time, on budget and to specification
7. Post-Completion Review
  • Step 6 outputs
  • Data, information
  • Post-completion evaluations
  • Output and outcome reviews (expected vs actual)
  • Lessons for the future
  • Framework review and proposed improvements

[1] As noted in F1, land use objectives are as important as transport system objectives. For convenience, the Guidelines refer mainly to transport system objectives; however, in each case the importance of both land use and transport objectives (and that they be integrated) is implicitly inferred at the same time.

[2] See discussion in F0.1 Policy Choices and System Planning.