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.

As a result it can be expected that the performance and reliability of road based public transport services will become an increasing challenge, and priority.

What are the key factors that influence the demand for public transport?

A number of factors that influence potential passengers wanting to use, and existing passengers to continue using, public transport include:

  • mobility – travel time reliability, which includes on time running, travel time and comfort;
  • accessibility – been able to readily get to a destination, the need to transfer and waiting times, and spatial and temporal service coverage; and
  • safety and security – both on and adjacent to services.

Obviously these should be part of any performance monitoring and reporting. But there are a number of different perspectives about the ‘performance’ of public transport.

From a community perspective the key areas of interest relating to the priority for public transport include:

  • amount of subsidy required to support public transport, hence of level of taxation;
  • local economic development and employment implications of a mass movement of people; and
  • congestion mitigation on the road network.

What should be the key factors in monitoring the performance of public transport?

Public transport agencies contract public transport services, on behalf of governments and the community, so they wish to monitor the performance of public transport in terms of:

  • value for money, in the use of taxpayer funds;
  • service effectiveness, service coverage and service delivery (usually measured by reliability and meeting scheduled frequency) – aiming to manage the key factors that influence passenger demand; and
  • customer service and traveller information.

Public transport operators have a different set of performance requirements, primarily related to:

  • cost of operations, hence the financial viability of providing contract services; and
  • delivery of services to contract requirements.

These are all areas requiring quality data to be collated and analysed (and reported) to assess the performance of public transport services.

What do you think are the priority areas of monitoring public transport?

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