Assumptions

Goal definition: a better, i.e. more efficient public transport with a better financial result. This means:

  • A more attractive network for current and prospective passengers, leading to increased ticket revenue.
  • Lower or similar operating costs, e.g. less vehicles required.
  • No need for major investments like building a new line or purchasing more vehicles.

A highly efficient transport network has two major enemies:

a) Duplication: several routes serving the same areas. Mutually destructive competition that:

– Reduces choice for the passengers, when most routes from their stop run in the same direction and no route runs to where they want to go.

– Increases the network’s complexity, making it less transparent and discouraging for potential passengers (difficult to find one’s way through numerous timetables).

– Increases operational costs (twice as many vehicles used to operate practically a single route).

As a result, the attractiveness of public transport falls, compared to private transport.

b) Suboptimal division of transport tasks between rail-based and bus transport: my experience suggests that the most efficient public transport networks have trams and/or trains (suburban rail, metro or light rail) as their backbone with buses supporting them.

Rail-based transport is most suitable to carrying large numbers of passengers over large distances in the shortest possible time, while buses work very well on relatively short routes, e.g. feeding passengers to a rail-based line and in areas where a tram or rail line would not be feasible (due to low passenger demand or geographical obstacles).

Buses and trams or trains can cooperate (instead of competing) if their specific advantages are recognised and fully used – thus leading to a highly efficient network, which attracts more passengers.

An optimal – in my view – division of transport tasks between rail-based means of transport and buses is a feeder system shown below.

optimal network v2

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