The Four Step Principle in Sweden

Even though transport planning has moved towards a more holistic approach, it is still very much focused on infrastructure investments. It is still difficult to integrate mobility management into the traditional planning of infrastructure investments, even though better and more cost efficient solutions would exist. The four step principle in Sweden has been developed by the national Road Administration in order to widen the planners toolbox and to find the most cost effective measures. The principle requires that four different kinds of measures are analysed when addressing transport problems:

1- Measures that affect transport needs and choice of transport mode.
2- Measures leading to more efficient utilisation of existing road network.
3- Minor road improvements.
4- Major investments

Even though criticism has arisen in Sweden about how the principle is used, there is considered to be large benefits to the principle - if used in a suitable way. The city of Lund has used the principle in two different projects, with mixed results. The lesson learnt is that in many cases - but not all - the four step principle can help to identify and implement measures that are more cost effective and sustainable than otherwise would be possible.

By using four step thinking it has been possible for the city to reduce (or postpone) expensive investments in road infrastructure as well as gathering momentum for public transport improvements and mobility management projects.
The four step principle can, if used correctly, be an effective tool to integrate mobility management with infrastructure planning. By setting up a wide range of different measures and analysing costs and effects there are better chances for a thorough discussion about all possible choices - and uncommon and new solutions (such as mobility management) are less easily discharged. It is however still very important to develop the method further and make it a standard procedure for all processes where transport infrastructure investments are discussed. It is also necessary to improve the knowledge of quantitative effects of different mobility management measures, so they can be correctly assessed in the process of selecting adequate measures for the problem that needs to be solved.