As part of managing the public transport operation, there should be at least regular basic monitoring of the efficiency of operation in order to optimise the use of resources.
Monitoring the performance of the organisation in general is a cyclical process. Monitoring enables an operator to compare indicators with, for instance, the outcome of the previous year. The operator is then able to plan and implement improvements to the business and since monitoring is a permanent ongoing process, the indicators need to be monitored in order to analyse the outcome of the improvements. The monitoring can be an in-house scheme as well as a public one.
In the context of a public transport operator, the process should follow a step-wise approach:
Definition and agreement of the factors which are critical to the success of an individual company
Development of appropriate performance measures, known as indicators. These indicators are then measured by individual operators
Collection of the values of the indicators for a first, base year
Setting-up of short and long term goals for each indicator, on the basis of the base year
Planning of measures and activities which will improve the operation and lead to a fulfilment of the short and long term goals
Setting-up of a monitoring scheme describing what to be monitored, who is monitoring and when to monitor
Many performance indicators can be applied. For a basic analysis, indicators should be defined within three areas:
Efficiency (staff, vehicles and maintenance)
For examples see ► Background information: Examples of performance indicators
Always keep in mind the need to follow the ‘quality cycle’ as well, see guideline Basic analysis. The elements of the quality cycle are: plan, act, evaluate (monitor and review) and improve. It is crucial to implement a solid monitoring system, well-integrated into the daily operation, to ease the reporting of figures, calculation and analysis of indicators and presentation of results.
UK: In the UK, some of the larger bus groups (e.g. First) are involved in in-house benchmarking between different operating units within the UK. Being an in-house scheme, the potential to deliver consistent information is high despite the different ownership origins of the constituent parts of First.
Sweden: In Sweden many public transport authorities present their performance indicators in their public annual report. Every diversion from the goals set or from the performance of last year is commented on in the report, thus giving an incentive to develop the public transport in a positive direction.
Within the three areas of performance the public transport operator/authority should choose a number of indicators for monitoring the performance of the public transport system. Examples are:
Product: line coverage, average speed, share of public transport-only links, share of traffic-light priority, share of low-floor vehicles, share of bus stops with shelters, average age of vehicles
Staff: staff per vehicle kilometre or hour, total cost of staff per vehicle kilometre or hour, cost of administrative personnel per vehicle kilometre or hour, cost of drivers per vehicle kilometre or hour
Vehicles: number of buses per vehicle kilometre or hour, trips per vehicle kilometre or hour, trips per single ride, vehicle hours or vehicle kilometres per vehicle
Maintenance: Technique staff per vehicle kilometre or hour; cost of maintenance per vehicle kilometre or hour
Result: total cost per vehicle kilometre or hour, cost-coverage, community support per trip, trips per inhabitant, ticket revenues per trip, trips per vehicle kilometre and/or vehicle hour