Transport Toolkit recently created a poll on LinkedIn to gauge the thoughts of transport planners on how they prioritised service reliability versus customer outcomes where efficiency opportunities are possible. The scenario we posted was:
Schedulers often have a choice to reduce run times to get a trip link that saves a peak bus but cause some late running. What would you do?
- Efficiency, save a peak bus?
- Customer, leave as is?
We acknowledge that the question offered no context and as good transport planners should do, our responders rightly highlighted the need to fully understand the context, raising the following important questions and considerations:
- Fares. Who retains the fares?
- KPI’s. Are there key performance indicators with penalties?
- Contract Incentives. Are there incentives for measured customer outcomes?
- Service Impacts. Will the late running service impact subsequent services?
- Bus Planning Options. Can trips be re-hooked to minimise the late running?
- Timetables. Can you adjust the bus timetable departure time and still save the peak bus?
- Driver Considerations. Is the trip operated by the same driver each day?
- Customers Impacted. How many customers would be impacted?
It is fair to say that these considerations are critical, and we of course recommend all transport planners and transport schedulers explore and understand the consequences and mitigation bus planning options. However, we wanted to get an uncontextualised gut reaction. So, let’s explore the raw numbers.
A total number of respondents was 19 and the poll results were:
- 42% - Efficiency, save a peak bus?
- 58% - Customer, leave as is?
In summary, nearly 60% of respondents prioritised the needs of the customer over the cost savings related to saving a bus. We are sure, if more context was provided, this number would have been much higher, especially if there was a bus contract requirement, (incentive or penalty) that encourages high quality customer outcomes.
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