Systematically monitor usage of the Public Transport system in order to ensure that the system performs to maximum effect.
The aim of market analyses as well as monitoring of actual demandis to collect data that provides public transport management (at authority level or operator level) with objective assessments of current circumstances, past trends, and existing concerns, as well as unmet needs.
A detailed knowledge of the existing demand level and demand structure is necessary in order to identify problems and to plan accordingly. Various tasks can benefit from a systematic collection of demand data :
Network redesign and network changes (e.g. how many transit passengers are affected by a change of branches between cross-city lines?),
Detailed planning and efficiency considerations (e.g. how many people are using a certain service / run and is the service still in line with overall economic considerations?),
Tariff calculations (e.g. what happens if the zoning of the fare structure is changed?),
Share of revenues between several operators (e.g. how many trips are done by tickets issued by another operator?),
Marketing measures (e.g. how can low ridership figures be increased in a certain residential area of the city?),
Statistical data for urban transport planning (e.g. how many trips do citizens make by bus each year?).
There are two main methods to gather demand information:
Monitoring of ridership figures in many European countries is usually done by manual counting carried out periodically (e.g. once a year). Also automatic counting systems are used to ascertain how many passengers enter and leave the bus at each stop. Sometimes ticket sales can also be used.
Analyses of existing public transport demand are mainly done by market surveys inside the vehicles during the trip. Passengers are counted and asked about their trip purpose, origin and destination (trip length and transfer information), ticket use (revenue information), and customer satisfaction. Bus questionnaires are held fairly regularly in 79% of all cities participating in PROCEED’s case study survey.
Demand varies from day to day with seasonal influences and unforeseen incidents, resulting in different demand levels on the same service. Consequently, the sample for data collectionshould be fixed at an appropriate level based on statistical knowledge in each country. In Sweden, for example, experience has shown that data from the months October or April are the most appropriate to use as an average for the whole year.
Especially if the service is contracted, decision-making bodies (e.g. public transport agencies) are not directly involved in service operation on a regular basis and, therefore, detailed data is not automatically available. However, access to accurate information for decision-making bodies helps in making decisions on where and when which service should be provided and supports actions designed to improve performance. The public may also be interested in knowing how well the service is being provided and may need convincing that public transport provides a valuable service. For that reason, a clear procedure for performance data flow should be agreed between the authority and the operator considering the respective role of each player. The data flow should preferably be clearly stated within the contract.
Systematic monitoring is a necessary prerequisite for success. Surveys done from time to time with different methods will deliver non-comparable results, which may not be useful to identify trends. Consequently, data comparability between surveys from different years should be considered. A yearly interval (exceptionally 2-yearly) can be regarded as a minimum requirement for the above given surveys. For examples see ► Background information: Approach to market analysis in The Netherlands.
Avilés (Spain): In Avilés surveys in stations are done annually during the month of November. These surveys compile information about the origin and destination of users as well as types of users. Customer satisfaction levels are also measured.
France: In France, compendia of statistical analyses on urban transport networks are produced by CERTU (“Centre d’Etudes sur les Réseaux, les Transports, l’Urbanisme et les constructions publiques” – Public study centre for networks, transport, urban planning and public construction), in partnership with GART (“Groupement des Autorités Responsables de Transport” – Group of Transport Authorities) and UTP (“Union des Transports Publics” - Public Transport Union). These data allow comparison between networks at a national level as well as time-series analysis of the performance of individual urban transport networks. Regarding data collection, a household traffic survey (“enquête ménages déplacements” - EMD) is one of the key data collection tools for analysis of travel habits. It provides reliable data which is comparable in space and time. The surveys are carried out every ten years at the level of urban area and the region. This survey is carried out according to a standard methodology at a national level, developed by CERTU.
Germany: Passenger surveys are conducted on a regular basis in almost all public transport associations throughout Germany in order to split revenues between operators based on individually verified earnings. The related findings on demand figures and customer behaviour are in many cases used to re-design or optimize public transport networks and timetables.
There are three national surveys monitoring trip behaviour in The Netherlands. Mobility research (A), public transport user satisfaction (B) and public transport passenger kilometres (C). Also relevant is the customer complaints and feedback registration (D).
A. MON (= Mobility research Netherlands): The survey consists of a household questionnaire in combination with individual trip diaries. The survey is carried out throughout the year (every month a sample of 4,350 addresses is drawn and also a spare sample of 4,350 addresses); the net result on a yearly basis is 50,000 completed (individual) trip diaries + about 24,000 accompanying household questionnaires. The database allows analyses at the local level.
B. Klantenbarometer ( = customer satisfaction local and regional public transport): This survey aims to monitor the user satisfaction of regional and local public transport services in the Netherlands. This is done by a yearly questionnaire to be completed by the public transport traveller during his / her journey-stage. The questionnaires are randomly distributed among travellers when entering the vehicle and collected (80,000-90,000 per year) when leaving it. Travellers are asked to give an overall assessment on the actual journey-stage, as well as on aspects such as travel information, ticketing, ease of access to the vehicle, social safety, comfort, travel time, price, and general comments. Also ‘background’ information is asked, such as car availability, age, travel frequency and activity at the destination. The 7,000 to 8,000 stages per year are randomly selected out of all stages stratified by region and mode (bus/tram/metro/regional rail). The KPVV (Traffic and Transport Platform that supports local authorities in their efforts to develop and implement traffic and transport policy) is responsible for the survey, which is carried out in all Public Transport areas. The results are publicly available on the Internet.
C. WROOV (Fare box revenues and allocation): Since 1980 the Netherlands has maintained a national system for urban and regional public transport fares. The system offers passengers the benefit that they can travel throughout the country using the same ticketing system. Fares are based on the number of geographical zones ‘crossed’. A regular national (WROOV) survey is carried out among passengers (that guarantees 95% accuracy and is carefully evaluated by independent accountants, transport companies and the Ministry of Transport) to map the use of national tickets, which determines the allocation ‘keys’.
D. Customer Feedback: In most concessions the operator has to register the customer comments and complaints received, including the replies and actions, and regularly provide an overview to the public transport authority.