Betting High on a New Mobility Model Based on Rational, Smart, Sustainable, Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Bus System in Barcelona
J Mension Camps, TMB, Metropolitan Transports of Barcelona
this paper looks at ways to keep our strengths and to overcome the weaknesses, and all of this with an objective: to gain more clients!
The Barcelona Bus Network was highly appreciated by the citizens because it was very rooted in the city as the majority of its itineraries were based on old routes; it also had very loyal clients that used the bus three times or more per week; and the satisfaction ratios had been very high over the last years becoming one of the 4 most appreciated public services in Barcelona.
Nevertheless it had diverse weaknesses: on one hand, it was impossible to give more or better supply (more vehicle-km or better headway) without adding more resources. Somewhat, it was in some ways an inefficient network and it was very difficult to be used by the occasional or even by the usual client in occasional routes. It was a very important limit to growth in ridership and to any increase of its share of transport users.
For all the above, we wanted to change, to keep our strengths and to overcome the weaknesses, and all of this with an objective: to gain more clients!
Together with the City Council, we defined without adding more resources to the system a new concept, a new product to offer to the citizens: a true bus network with high level of service, and to achieve it we based on the following three main issues:
1. A new design. We design a new user-friendly layout, set up on the topology of the borough of “l’Eixample”. This way we outlined 17 horizontal (parallel to the sea), 8 vertical (sea-mountain direction), and 3 diagonal routes going alone through the main streets of the city, there where the demand is the highest, finding the most direct way between the origins and destinations.
2. A different kind of supply, very efficient and reliable. We realized that the design wasn’t enough for succeed. We also had to give our client a very easy, competitive and reliable supply with very good headways (between 5 and 8 minutes), in quite a wide span during the day (from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm).
With these two subjects, we are telling our client: “Don’t worry! You don’t have to know neither the city map, nor the bus network layout, and furthermore you can forget scheduled timetables as well. You just have to choose the appropriate routes, with no more than one transfer or without them, to get to your destination and you will barely have to wait at the stops an average or 4 minutes until the bus arrival”.
But once reached these 2 points, something else is needed:
3. The improvement of the travelling experience of the citizens, to adapt it to this new product and to make as easy and comfortable as possible trips. At this point, we wanted to put ourselves in our client’s shoes and we provided them any kind of information whether they were at home or at the office, at the bus stops (including transfer stops), aboard the bus, or even at destination.
We launched a significant marketing campaign before bringing the new routes out and, taking advantage of new technologies, we created new tools to make our customer journey easier: we enhanced our website, we produced easy to handle maps, we launched our new TMB App and fixed up our own TV broadcast system aboard the bus (MouTV), etc. We also improved our urban furniture installing better shelters and poles with RTI and also special signposting was produced specifically for the interchange areas to recreate the subway conceptual language on the surface.
There was wide agreement and broad (social, political and technical) consensus about the project and feedback with the customers and citizens, which together with progressive implementation strategy and big effort for endowing more priority to the bus: more sections of bus lanes, signal priority at many intersections and double bus stops, among other, led finally to a quite good success.
We carried out 3 customer satisfaction surveys with promising results: the majority of the survey respondents know what the New Bus Network is, the characteristics that people appreciate the most are the same we wanted to promote: more user friendly, more frequency, more information; and a overwhelming majority (91%) think that this project is a big improvement regarding the old Bus Network. Apart from this, the demand has increased from the beginning of the implementation of the new routes.
Association for European Transport