Public Transport Integration Project Gelderland East
C Volp, R van der Gaag, Province of Gelderland, NL
In 1999 the province of Gelderland took an important step in Dutch history of public transportation. By developing the Gelderland East Integrated Public Transport Project (known as IGO Plus), Gelderland was the first province to be allowed by the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management to take over national responsibilities and powers for regional public transportation. Nowadays, all Dutch decentralised authorities (provinces and municipal partnerships) are obliged by law to contract out public transport to interested transport companies, following a tendering process. The IGO Plus ?experiment? therefore is an interesting study case. Especially since the multi-modal solution of IGO Plus has led to improved public transport product, transport growth and improved cost-effectiveness.
Gelderland East Integrated Project In order to clarify the new powers and responsibilities regarding regional public transport, the province of Gelderland has defined five ?franchise areas?. The extent of a franchise area is related to the economic and social cohesion of the area and the existing transport flows within it. The IGO Plus project was developed for the franchise area ?Achterhoek?. The main feature of the project is that the train (the Zutphen?Winterswijk and Winterswijk?Doetinchem?Arnhem lines) has become the backbone of public transport in this regional area and that the bus supplements the train service with rapid connecting services, convenient local services and feeders connecting to the train. The project is intended to produce the following effects: 1) an improved public transport product at constant costs; 2)substantial transport growth; 3) improvement in the modal split; 4) improved cost-effectiveness.
In advance of the policy of contracting out public transport (by tendering), as an experiment the minister allowed operation of IGO Plus to be awarded privately to the new Syntus transport company .
For the train, a license has been designed based on (currently) existing legislation in the form of an operating agreement. This agreement sets forth mutual rights and obligations and governs matters such as the duration of the agreement, the financial relationship, the level of provision, the requirements to be made of staff and rolling stock, etc. In terms of operation of the bus transport provided by Syntus, the province has awarded a franchise based on the Passenger Transport Act 2000. As soon as the Passenger (train) Transport Franchise Act becomes effective, expected 1 Januari 200, the operating agreement for train transport will also be converted into a franchise.
The agreement and its effects 1. Duration of the agreement Initially, the province had awarded a licence for a period of 2 x 5 years, from 1999 until 2004, which would then be extended if Syntus had satisfied fixed performance criteria (see the above paragraph). In order to check whether Syntus is meeting the agreed performance criteria, a system of monitoring has been introduced.
The licence was extended for the second five-year period as early as 2001. The reason for this was that both Syntus and the province still wanted to have good rolling stock at their disposal, despite the scarcity of equipment. Now that Syntus has been assured at this early stage that it will continue to operate until 2009, the company acquired new Light Rail rolling stock (see point 6.). The penalty of not extending the operating agreement in 2004 if performance was inadequate was then replaced by an annually applicable penalty scheme from 2004 onwards.
In other respects, the agreement provides room for interim adjustments and criteria have been formulated for earlier cancellation. The latter point relates, for example, to failure to fulfil obligations, substantial changes to relevant legislation and regulations or an undesirable share transfer.
Moreover, the agreement includes an information profile which is used to check that it is being correctly implemented. This relates, for example, to information about matters such as transport scope, deployment of rolling stock and personnel, ticket prices, travel information, communication and market effects, bottlenecks in the provision of services and complaints reporting. 2.Financial effects Since only one multi-modal transporter exists at present, with integrated operation and combination functions for its staff, the available government funds are able to be used efficiently (the ?profit? from one mode makes up for the ?loss? from another). In addition, operating the train service, in particular, has become cheaper thanks to the use of Light Rail rolling stock. This efficiency advantage has been converted into a better level of provision. The new network has so far led to growth of approx. 15% in the number of passengers.
The agreement reached with Syntus assumes a (fixed) operating subsidy for the train service, which is directly derived from the amount which the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management makes available to the province for this purpose (the ?social function of public transport?). As far as bus transport is concerned, the subsidy is awarded based on the existing supplementary scheme. This means that the government makes an amount available which is directly related to the amount which Syntus itself generates in transport revenue.
In other respects, the operating risk is borne entirely by the transporter. If the operating result is positive, Syntus can add the profits to its account but, if the result is negative, no additional subsidy can be claimed from the province. 3.Level of provision Interpretation of the level of provision by Syntus is based on two premises. In terms of train services and the main axes of bus transport, the province has determined the frequencies and operating times which must be offered. In general, these are half-hourly services, whereas they were mainly hourly services under the old structure. Provision of the local bus services and feeders is left to the creativity of Syntus itself, within the standards set by the province (for example, the size of the hubs).
Of course, the operating agreement provides room for adjusting the level of provision if required by development of the transport supply. 4.Ticket prices As far as ticket prices are concerned, Syntus is bound by two pricing systems:
* the national travel pass for buses and regional train services, where prices and pricing conditions are determined by the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management;
* boundaries of the Syntus franchise, in which case prices and pricing conditions are determined exclusively by the NS.
Consequently, Syntus cannot pursue its own pricing policy, which means that the company lacks an important means of influencing its income and is restricted in its commercial development. Despite this, in areas within the existing operating agreement where Syntus bears its own risk, this regularly leads to tension.
The early introduction of a public transport smart card, with applicable pricing freedoms, is therefore of great importance for the province of Gelderland and Syntus. 5.Rail infrastructure One of the basic features of IGO Plus was an increase in the frequency of trains from an hourly service to a half-hourly service. In order to make this possible, adjustments had to be made to the infrastructure, in particular an increase in the track section speed from 100 to 130 km/h for part of the route. Moreover, a new suburban station has been opened at Winterswijk West and measures have been taken to improve safety at level crossings. The latter are to prevent increased frequency leading to a higher risk of collision.
The costs of these infrastructural adjustments were borne by the Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. The province has only entered into a contract for operation of the train service. The laying, management and maintenance of the required infrastructure remains the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. 6.Rolling stock The deployment of new Light Rail rolling stock makes a substantial contribution to improving the quality of public transport in the Achterhoek region, which both the province and Syntus are keen to see. Syntus has purchased a total of 19 LINT 41 trains for its train services from the German manufacturer Alstom. Thanks to its specific driving characteristics and plain but practical interior (i.e. no first class compartment or toilets), this rolling stock is ideal for use on regional, slower train lines.
The acquisition of new rolling stock has been made possible thanks in part to the province being willing to extend the operating agreement with Syntus at an early stage (see point 1). The costs of this type of investment and the associated annual operating costs would have been much higher and, therefore, unacceptable for Syntus assuming that the agreement could still have been terminated as early as 2004, rather than in 2009.
Syntus does not own the rolling stock, but is deploying it based on a leasing agreement.
Association for European Transport