Interliners in the Netherlands: Learning to Adapt to a Changing Operating Environment
F Cheung, AVV Transport Research Centre, NL
results and findings of an evaluation study of the performance of the Interliners and lessons learnt to support product development
Innovation in the transport industry and new product development are vital to the financial and operational performance of public transport operators. It is also important to be aware of the institutional barriers and constraints in the changing operating environment. The provision of quality services is a necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure continuing success. The history of the Interliners and how it copes with new challenges over time offer invaluable insights to public transport planning. On November 1994, the first Interliner with its distinctive livery, the green stripe, came into service in the Netherlands. It was then a new service concept for local and regional transport that aimed to provide special services for the travelling public. The motto was "Class-A services" at a fair price with limited stops, offering prime quality services to the target groups who would have optional use of the car. The first years saw a substantial increase in usage. In its heyday, there were over 30 Interliner routes operating in the whole country carrying some 5.6 million passengers a year. However, the original formula gradually lost its attraction. At the same time, decentralisation of responsibilities and control to the lower tiers of government had also led to a change in the operating environment. To learn from past experiences and to compete successfully in the new environment, an evaluation study was undertaken. The aims were to determine the possible causes of the decline and to propose new measures to enhance usage. The paper will describe the historical developments of the Interliner concept from its inception, trace the developments and illustrate how innovative changes to the original concept had helped the services to adapt and revive. Under the legislation on passenger transport passed in 2000, there are opportunities for existing or new entrepreneurs to set up a nationwide express bus network with a clear and transparent product formula to serve the travelling public. Best practices and lessons learnt from the Interliner experience would be beneficial in service planning and product development.
Association for European Transport