4. Stage 3: Problem prioritisation

This stage allocates priority to the identified problems. This determines which problems should be tackled first.

Transport planning involves making decisions about the allocation of resources. Limited funding and competing transport system needs and trade-offs mean that governments and society generally cannot afford to address all the problems identified. This means that setting priorities is an important element in identifying and assessing problems.

Problems should be prioritised with reference to the goals and objectives identified in Step 1. For example:

  • The problem that presents the greatest obstacle to achieving the goals and objectives may be given priority.
  • As objectives can also be prioritised, the problem presenting the most important objective from being achieved may be given priority.

The urgency of resolving the problem should always be linked back to the goals and objectives identified in Step 1.

A sound evidence base is important in determining why a particular problem should be prioritised ahead of others. A comparison of quantitative and qualitative information gathered during the problem assessment stage will help to identify the most urgent or most significant problem. However, it is important to appreciate that this may not be an entirely objective process as input from stakeholders will be largely subjective.

Several factors may be considered in prioritising problems, including:

  • Current or forecast levels of demand
  • The scale or extent of the problem, and hence the potential benefits of addressing the problem
  • Government priorities and policies.