Reviewing Efficiency and Effectiveness of Interurban Public Transport Services: a Practical Experience



Reviewing Efficiency and Effectiveness of Interurban Public Transport Services: a Practical Experience

Authors

Maurizio Arnone, SiTI - Higher Institute On Territorial Systems For Innovation –Torino, IT, Andrea Isabello, SiTI - Higher Institute On Territorial Systems For Innovation, Stefano Pensa, SiTI - Higher Institute On Territorial Systems For Innovation

Description

This paper describes the methodology and the analysis tool developed for a study aimed at the reorganisation of the interurban public transport services of the Piedmont region of Italy.

Abstract

Due to the current economic downturn, public administrations are facing the tough task of providing adequate services with decreasing funds. Public transport is one of the most affected services. Under the pressures of urgency, lack of funds and limited knowledge of the service effectiveness, administrators may choose the easier and faster solution: undifferentiated service cuts. Smarter choices could be made by using good data sources and analysis tools such as those we discuss here.

This paper describes the methodology and the analysis tool developed for a study aimed at the reorganisation of the interurban public transport services of the Piedmont region of Italy. The study, carried out in 2012, assessed the efficiency and the effectiveness of public transport services and characterised which of those could be reorganised in order to increase the system’s sustainability while preserving the level of service provided.

The remit was to work on some 4.000 lines covering an area of about 25.000 km2 by using data from several sources with different format, level of detail, precision and reliability.

To begin the study we needed to work on a large dataset spanning different types of data, such as service provision, ridership, economic data, and geographical information. The size of the task warranted the effort to merge all those data into a single database and develop an analysis tool on purpose. Therefore we custom built a web-based visual analysis tool, including geo-referenced dynamic maps and allowing for real-time data feeds, allowing users to visualise and interact readily with the information in the database. As described in the paper, the web-based tool -a web GIS- was created with free web applications thus limiting development costs, and obtaining something that could be readily transferred elsewhere.

The web GIS application was used to characterise public transport lines on the basis of combinations of indicators of interest (including e.g. ridership, number of services and km produced by time unit), or on the basis of their characteristics (such as route overlaps, reference public administration, type of services, e.g. daily, for schoolchildren, market day only).

Tables, charts and maps obtained from the web GIS were employed to contrast the information we had with a set of criteria and identify instances of inefficiency or ineffectiveness of interurban public transport services.

The paper will discuss which criteria were employed to assess services. The basis of the method was the detection of ten possible typical issues which may affect services. Issues are basic sources of inefficiency or ineffectiveness of any item of public transport provision such as a service, a line, a sub-network. We identified such issues following a review of good practices and discussions with local experts. In practice, typical issues are e.g. route overlaps or lack of integration with urban transport. Service indicators immediately quantified the production that could be reorganised and the impact on funding.

Once occurrences of typical issues were identified in the dataset, good practices previously reviewed assisted us with putting forward suitable courses of action. Actions were proposed consistently with the long term vision for interurban public transport established at the outset of the study. Courses of action recommended were readily appreciated also by public officials since they were supported by examples of outcomes identified in the review of practice.

Publisher

Association for European Transport