1. Introduction

The ATAP Framework is an infrastructure planning and decision-making framework, applied to transport. It provides a systematic process for achieving transport system objectives[1] and targets identified in Step 1. As used in this context, the scope of the term ‘planning’ is very broad; it may be applied differently by individual jurisdictions.

This section discusses the role of ‘Policy Choices and System Planning’[2] as a phase of the Framework. This phase is a primary strategic activity at the front end of the Framework. Along with Step 1 (Goals, Objectives and Targets), it provides the direction-setting guidance for all major transport system decisions. Like other parts of the Framework, it should be based on sound evidence-based assessment and stakeholder engagement wherever possible.

This phase of the Framework involves repeated application of the ‘objective-problem-option’ focus (Steps 1B to 3) across a hierarchy of integrated planning levels.

The hierarchy (shown below) was introduced in the Overview. It consists of the following planning levels: jurisdiction-wide, markets, city and region; network; corridor and area; route and link.[3]

Figure 1: Hierarchy of Integrated System Planning Levels
Hierarchy of Integrated System Planning Levels

Planning needs to be:

  • Consistent and integrated within and across these planning levels
  • Integrated between transport and land use at all planning levels. This allows the critical inter-relationship between transport and land use to be recognised in both a strategic direction-setting manner from the outset, as well as in more detailed planning.

Figure 2 below is an extract from Figure 3 in the Overview. It shows:

  • The repeated cycle of the ‘objectives-problems-options’ focus
  • Strategies, policies and plans as outputs of the system planning process
  • Processes to develop integrated and multi-modal planning outputs for the various planning levels: jurisdiction(s), markets, city-region, area, corridor, route and link
  • A resulting suite of integrated strategies, policies and plans that provide a big-picture, top-down view of the direction of transport development. From these flow ‘identified ideas’ for transport initiatives, to be further investigated in subsequent framework steps.

Figure 2: Strategies, policies, plans and initiative ideas as outputs in system planning
Strategies, policies, plans and initiative ideas as outputs in system planning

As mentioned in the Overview, it is acknowledged that there is no unique sequence of activities for applying the activities shown in Figure 2 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. Examples are:

  • Whether policy choices are inputs to, or outputs from, planning (discussed in Chapter 2 below)
  • Whether network planning precedes corridor and area planning. It could precede as shown in Figure 2. An equally acceptable approach is to start with corridor and area planning, base network planning on the collective results and then iterate between the two.

Whatever the sequencing of activities, the planning outputs must be consistent and integrated.

The process:

  • Is dynamic and iterative. Feedback between planning levels means that results at each planning level can be adjusted over time to reflect developments at other levels. An iterative process is also required between corridor and area planning and route and link planning.
  • Should make good use of quantitative assessments (see Chapter 7 below).
  • Should have a consistent focus on objectives, problems and options (see F1, F2 and F3).
  • Should include appropriate stakeholder engagement.

[1] As noted in Part 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 is implicitly inferred at the same time.

[2] Policy choices and system planning are grouped together here. In the 2006 Guidelines, they were presented as separate phases. Some jurisdictions may prefer to continue with that interpretation.

[3] Refer to the Glossary for definitions