Improving the efficiency of transport networks by enhancing road system performance, lays the foundations for the positive change process within a city, achieving good accessibility to the area and optimizing vehicle flows, both in terms of cost management and attenuation of environmental impacts. The performance of an urban road system can be defined according to different thematic areas such as traffic flow, accessibility, maintenance and safety, for which the scientific literature proposes different measurement indicators. However variations in performance are influenced by interventions which differ from one another, such as infrastructure, management, regulation or legislation, etc. Therefore sometimes it is not easy to understand which areas to act on and what type of action to pursue to improve road network performance. Of particular interest are the tools based on the use of synthetic macro-indicators that represent the individual thematic areas and are able to describe the behavior of the entire network as a function of its characteristic elements. These instruments are of major significance when they assess performance not so much in absolute terms but in relative terms, i.e. in relation to other comparable urban areas. Therefore the objective of the proposed paper is to compare performances of different urban networks, using a non-parametric linear programming technique such as Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), Farrel (1957), in order to provide technical support to the policy maker in the choice of actions to be implemented to make urban road systems efficient. This work forms part of a research project supported by grant, PRIN-2009 prot. 2009EP3S42_003, in which the University di Cagliari is a partner with a research team comprising the authors of this paper, and which concerns performance assessment of road networks (2013a, 2013b).
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