What are some of the challenges in evaluating public transport?

The difficulty in the appraisal of public transport projects is well understood.

The main issue relates to accurately identifying and describing the costs and benefits.

Any initiative that improves public transport could be expected to increase public transport use.

Costs are short term (capital infrastructure and vehicles) and long term (operations and maintenance), and low or high cost.

Benefits can be short or longer term, quantifiable in monetary terms or described in qualitative terms and difficult to isolate from a whole range of other factors.

Read moreWhat are some of the challenges in evaluating public transport?

Estimating patronage demand for public transport: optimism or exaggeration?

Large public transport projects require patronage demand estimates for planning and investment purposes. While patronage forecasting has been in use for over 50 years, providing the basis for determining the best option to a transport problem and guide investment decisions, they are more often than not, wrong!

Forecasts involve large data collection and analysis exercises using sophisticated strategic transport models to produce forecasts and estimates. Understanding and making judgements on critical assumptions in these models is complex and there are only a very limited number of experienced public transport forecasting professionals.

Read moreEstimating patronage demand for public transport: optimism or exaggeration?

Show me the money

Our cities are slowing down. Traffic speeds have continued to slow in metropolitan cities over the past 10 years.

This affects mobility increases fuel use and vehicle emissions and makes road based public transport slower and more expensive to operate.

Professionals are facing significant challenges in the provision of mobility and access – a major challenge is insufficient funding for needed transport infrastructure and services.

Yes, we can make better use of the existing infrastructure, by reallocating road space and providing priority to higher value use like freight and public transport. And we can increase throughput by the use of intelligent transport systems technology, such as providing priority at traffic signals, or managing traffic flows by variable speed limits and ramp metering.

Read moreShow me the money

Are we ready for disruption in public transport operations?

In the point-to-point transport sector, ride sharing services like UberX, GoCar and GoCatch have disrupted the industry. And government policy has been struggling to keep up, in the context of a highly regulated taxi industry and their very vocal complaints. The disruption is not over yet!

What could this mean for the future of public transport?

Read moreAre we ready for disruption in public transport operations?

Are buses really running so late?

Criticism of the performance of public transport has been in the media, with headlines like: “Brisbane buses late 16 per cent of time”.

This is as a result of the Queensland Government restarting the publication of performance report called TransLink Tracker, with the second quarter of 2015/16 being published this month.

Public transport performance is a key metric to monitor as reliability is a key attractor of patronage (customers value reliability very highly) and it is a key means of ensuring quality of service and value for money.

Read moreAre buses really running so late?

Where Next with Public Transport?

The Australian Infrastructure Plan released in February 2016 by Infrastructure Australia (IA) has some key findings and recommendations for public transport across Australia.

With the project growth in population to 30 million over the next 15 years, and 5.9 million of that growth occurring in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, there will be much greater demands on public transport services, and government budgets.

What is needed according to IA is high-frequency, interconnected public transport systems to move people efficiently and comfortably.

Read moreWhere Next with Public Transport?

What are fair public transport fares?

Public transport fare policy is complex and fraught with compromises.

Some call for free public transport.

Others suggest the cost of car travel in peak periods should be have a congestion charge to provide a more level playing field (like London and Singapore).

At the same time, governments are trying to balance budgets, with less revenue and increasing demands for services.

Read moreWhat are fair public transport fares?

How do you know that public transport services are performing?

The performance and reliability of road based public transport services is become an increasing challenge, and priority.

Traffic congestion is the dominant challenge in cities across Australia. In the recently released Australian Infrastructure Audit 2015 it was forecast that:

The passenger transport task (both road and public transport) across our six largest capital cities is projected to increase by 58 per cent, from 622 million km per day in 2011 to 982 million km per day in 2031.

In most major urban areas across Australia the priority is to increase the mode share of public transport and ensure value for money for taxpayers.

Read moreHow do you know that public transport services are performing?