Baseline review methodology in BUSTRIP project. Turku. Finland

By News Editor / Updated: 29 Aug 2014

To be able to reach your goals, you first need to know your starting position. A starting point for successful Sustainable Urban Transport Plans (the previous term for SUMPs) is a baseline review. This constitutes an honest description of the city’s current transport situation. The City of Turku undertook a baseline review as part of the BUSTRIP project.


A baseline review is a process from which it is possible to move towards target-setting, action planning and monitoring etc. The baseline review has four elements:

1. Municipality profile
2. Drivers
3. Impacts
4. SUTP benchmark (plans, policies and actions)

The baseline review identifies successes and the potential for improvement in the SUTP planning process and transport system. It also helps the city to identify the ‘drivers’ and ‘impacts’ of the mobility and transport system and its development. The baseline review identifies those geographical areas and transport modes where targets for sustainable urban transport should be agreed. It also sets the baseline for continuous monitoring of the city’s urban transport with clear indicators and targets. The baseline review can be carried out internally within the city through a self-assessment process, but combining the self-assessment with external peer review can add additional value to the process. The baseline review allows actions to be prioritised and enables monitoring of the effects on relevant indicators.

The following example is taken from the Finnish city of Turku which, as part of the BUSTRIP project, created a baseline review to analyse the city’s existing transport network.



“The status analysis took more time and effort than we expected, but it certainly was one of the most fruitful parts of the planning process”, says Mikko Laaksonen who edited the report in Turku. He works as a promoter of walking and cycling in the city planning office. The team collected, collated and drew conclusions on basic data under each SUMP benchmark. They used sources available from the city’s own files, from the Regional Council of Southwest Finland and from research by the Turku School of Economics and the University of Turku.

Laaksonen says the results of the self-assessment report weren’t unexpected. “We found a lot of gaps, as we had expected. But it was surprising that the situation was moving in a more non-sustainable direction than we thought. Almost all the drivers showed that the city, in sailing terms, would soon hit the rocks if we stayed on this track.”

The self-assessment report of 108 pages was condensed into a summary of 17 pages for the use of internal communication and dissemination of the results to stakeholders and media.

The full report was sent to the peer review team, which carried on building a picture of the condition of sustainable transport. The peer review finally crystallised the challenges. They were: planning that favours hypermarkets, urban sprawl and a lack of regional cooperation due to competition among neighbouring municipalities.



A positive finding was the fact that Turku has a relatively compact structure and every possibility to further develop sustainable urban transport. At the time of the report, about 50 percent of trips were made by sustainable modes. “The city needs to recognise these strengths. If Turku followed its strategies, it would be a model city of sustainable transport. Implementation should be as ambitious as the strategies,” Laaksonen says.

The self-assessment and the peer review both helped those involved to understand the state of the city and the challenges lying ahead.



BUSTRIP Project 2007, Moving sustainably - Guide to Sustainable Urban Transport Plans

More Information

This example relates specifically to the Activity 3.1, Analyse the mobility situation and develop scenarios, in the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans Guidelines document, available here 

The BUSTRIP Guide also includes guidance on methodology for the baseline review.

BUSTRIP Project 2007, Moving sustainably - Guide to Sustainable Urban Transport Plans


Urban mobility planning
News Editor
News Editor
sustainable urban mobility plans
14 Sep 2011
29 Aug 2014