Annex 5 International Case Studies of Good Practice

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is the main city and capital of Finland. HKL is the municipal-owned commercial enterprise which is responsible for providing local public transport within the city. It plans the traffic, produces tram and metro traffic services, competitively tenders and purchases bus services and takes care of the building and maintenance of the track network, the stops and depots and is responsible for the economy of the public transport. The neighbouring areas of Espoo, Vantaa and several small municipalities join with Helsinki City to form the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV), which co-ordinates urban planning, infrastructure, passenger transport and other inter-municipality services of common interest.

Four measures of good practice in Helsinki are presented:

  • Competitive tendering for bus services
  • Integrated ticketing
  • Quality standards
  • Bus priority

Competitive Tendering for Bus Services: Bus services in Helsinki City and Helsinki Metropolitan Area are procured by HKL and YTV respectively, using competitive tendering to select among interested bidders. Services had been provided by both public and private operators under long-term contracts, and over the period 1994 to 2002, the entire network in both areas was systematically converted to competitive tendering. The main features of the system operated in both Helsinki City and Helsinki Metropolitan Area are:

  • All services are planned by the transport authority (HKL or YTV), and the fine detail is specified by the authority (route, timetable, vehicle type, ticketing, service quality)
  • Available services are offered in ‘lots’ by competitive tender, typically once a year. Lots can consist of individual routes or clusters of routes. The tendering cycle has been organised so that about 20–30% of the total service is available each year. This is considered to give a good balance between sufficient work to stimulate bidders, while keeping stability in the system.
  • Services are offered on a gross-cost basis - i.e. the operator is paid for providing the service and all the revenue is passed to the authority.
  • Contracts are normally for 5-year duration, with the possibility to extend by a further two years
  • The contract includes quality incentives, but also has penalties for below-standard performance
  • Buses and depots are provided by the operators
  • Publicly-owned and private firms compete on an equal basis. The public company HKL has succeeded to win about 55% of the services, the remainder mostly are operated by international private firms.
  • Finnish labour and market law provides protection to employees who would be affected when the incumbent operator loses the contract to another operator.

The tendering system was implemented smoothly and is considered to have been successful. The cost per vehicle-km was reduced by about 20% when competitive tendering was introduced. Some of the cost saving has been reinvested in the form of additional services and increased investment in vehicles and quality. Service quality and customer satisfaction have increased.

Integrated Ticketing: HKL has responsibility for fares/ticketing policy on all services in the region. The Helsinki has a fully integrated fares and ticketing system, with tickets valid on all modes and services. Season cards account for 78% of the travel, and 55% of the revenue. Value tickets account for 10% of the travel, and 17% of the revenue. Single tickets account for 12% of the tickets and 28% of the revenue.

Electronic Travel Cards (smart cards) are used in Helsinki. Customers can buy a personal Travel Card at HKL service points. Both period and value can be loaded into the same Travel Card.

For single trips, a flat fare tariff applies for Helsinki City (HKL area). Tickets can be bought from vehicle drivers. It allows unlimited transfers among tram, metro, bus, commuter train and ferry, for a specified period of time.

Quality Standards and Benchmarking: Helsinki measures service quality and customer opinion in a structured way, and uses this information to guide the development of the services. Helsinki is a founder member of the BEST Benchmarking Network, which also include Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Geneva, Manchester, Oslo, Prague, Stockholm and Vienna. From the perspective of Indian cities, there are three highly relevant aspects of the BEST network’s activities:

  • All of the participants measures service quality using 10 common parameters. Surveys are carried out every year and the results are published both locally and internationally. The 10 parameters are listed below.
  • The transport authorities of the participating cities benchmark against each other, and share experience, know-how and methods. This helps each city to identify where it can improve, to set realistic quality targets, and to develop practical means of achieving those targets. This can be done by bilateral agreement, but Common Interest Groups are established for themes of interest to many of the participants.
  • The BEST network holds seminars, events and other activities for measurement, research and other development. Non-members can also participate and either follow or learn from the BEST participants.

The ten common quality parameters used within BEST are:

  • Citizens’ Satisfaction
  • Transport supply
  • Reliability
  • Information
  • Comfort
  • Staff Behaviour
  • Personal Security and Safety
  • Value for Money
  • Social Image
  • Customer Loyalty

Experience has shown that these parameters are truly international and reflect customer concerns everywhere, even though the values will vary from one country to another.

Bus Priority: Helsinki has implemented bus priority measures to improve both the journey speeds and the reliability for passengers, and to reduce the operating costs and inefficiencies for the operating companies. This has been achieved by bus priority lanes, a small number of bus-only streets, and by priority for buses at the traffic signals.

Next page Page top