Passenger Focus shows way to assess transport performance in India

A large part of Chennai's MTC fleet is still made up of rickety buses.

Just how does a transit (rail, bus, tram) operator such as Chennai’s Metropolitan Transport Corporation or Bangalore’s MTC conduct a survey to assess passenger response to the service? This example from Passenger Focus, the UK watchdog is a good model to consider.

Although the size of the urban transport sector is much bigger in India than in the UK, there is no organised assessment being done by the operators, the Transport Department and the State/Central Governments.

With more investments to be made in coming years, both public and private, this is a good time to kick-start research into this neglected area. Passenger Focus is here on the web. Some effort is being made by India’s Ministry of Urban Development, but the States have not responded to this yet. This is a key priority not just for the UPA Government, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Chief Ministers and the Ministry led by Mr Jaipal Reddy, the Union Minister in-charge. It is equally important for passengers to make themselves heard, by undertaking similar efforts themselves. The time is good for formation of a passenger watchdog in all major cities, and in turn a confederation of such bodies to highlight demands nationally.

The Methodology followed by Passenger Focus in the UK:

Questionnaires are handed out on board the bus to passengers during their journey.

A reply paid envelope is provided for returning questionnaires.

This wave of the survey was undertaken in April and May 2009 in six areas:
– Tyne and Wear
– West Midlands
– Bristol
– Southampton
– Lincolnshire
– Dorset
The sample of routes on which the survey is conducted is developed separately for each area.
A database of every route in the area is compiled, and the sample is stratified by:
– service frequency
– operator
The survey was also conducted on different days of the week (including Saturday and Sunday)
and different times of the day (7:00am – 10:00pm).
The findings reported for a geographical area are weighted to reflect the market share of operators in the area.
The data for operator share has been derived by the TAS partnership from a variety of sources.

What does the research go into?

A survey conducted by Passenger Focus in Bristol collected data on the following:

1. Overall satisfaction 2. Personal safety at the bus stop 3. Cleanliness and freedom from grafitti 4. Amount of litter 5. Provision of shelter 6. Timetable information provided 7. Any electronic information – example, the time of next bus 8. Length of time the passenger had to wait for the bus 9. Whether the bus arrived on time.

Demographic information on the gender of the traveller, the purpose of travel.

The second set of parameters relate to the bus journey:

1. Ease of getting on and off the bus 2. Information provided on the bus, outside, regarding route number, destination and so on. 3. cleanliness and condition of the bus exterior 4. Cleanliness and condition of the bus interior 5. Information provided inside the bus 6. Personal security while inside the bus 7. Room for all passengers to sit or stand 8. Being able to get a seat. 9. Comfort of the seat.

In Bristol, the lowest figure in terms of satisfaction related to a question on whether the passengers felt they got value for money for the journey. While the other metrics scored in the 80s in percentage terms, the value for money figure dropped sharply to 64.


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