Annex 5 International Case Studies of Good Practice

London UK

Transport for London (TfL) is the integrated body responsible for London’s transport system. Its role is to implement the Mayor’s Transport Strategy for London and to manage the transport services across the city, for which the Mayor has responsibility. TfL is responsible for both the planning and delivery of transport facilities, based on an integrated strategy on how people, goods and services move around London.

TfL manages London’s buses, London Underground, Docklands Light Railway and London Trams. It operates the integrated transport payment system (Oyster Card, see below), runs London’s Congestion Charging Scheme, manages the 580 km network of main roads, all of London’s 6,000 traffic lights, regulates the taxi and private hire trade, and operates the Transport Operational command Unit jointly with the Metropolitan Police. Four measures of good practice in London are presented:

  • Network design and development
  • Procurement of bus services
  • Quality standards
  • Integrated ticketing

Network design and development: London has more than 8,000 buses which carry about 1.8 billion passengers per year. Total annual supply was 458 million bus-kms in 2006/7 on about 700 route. TfL plans all of the routes, specifies the service levels and monitors the service quality. TfL is also responsible for bus stations, bus stops and other support services.

Network design and planning is carried out in-house by TfL. It is done as a rolling program across the network of 700 routes. Each year, this covers all routes in the next year’s tendering program, plus associated routes, plus other parts of the network affected by major change, e.g. Congestion Charging.

TfL has a formal consultation process bus service changes. Consultations are done when it is proposed (i) to open new routes or to change the route the bus takes; (ii) to change the vehicle type; (iii) to change the operational hours and/or frequencies of the service; or (iv) for large-scale changes to the bus network. The details of consultations are posted on the TfL website. The main purpose of this section is to hear bus users’ views and get their feedback using questionnaires. Some decisions are made jointly with partners, such as the boroughs or other community representatives. All feedback is considered in decision making. However, the final plans must meet financial, legal, safety and technical limitations.

Procurement of bus services: Bus services in London are procured by TfL through competitive tendering. Services are offered in ‘Tranches’. Due to the large volume of bus work available, new tenders are offered approximately every month. Interested bidders must register with London Bus Services Ltd. in order to take part in tenders and to receive tender documentation. Selection is made according to price and quality criteria. The results of all tender competitions are published on the TfL website, including the identity of the winner, the number of bids, the value of the winning bid and, where relevant, the reason for not selecting the lowest cost bid.

Contracts are gross-cost with quality incentives which reward operators for good performance, with deductions for poor performance. The standard contract is for five years.

Quality standards: TfL sets quality standards for bus services and monitors performance on all routes and for all contracted operators. The primary concern for TfL is the reliability of the service as it operates in the street, since they have adequate contractual measures to ensure factors such as bus cleanliness and driver behavior.

TfL have decided to focus on two main perspectives:

  • For high-frequency services, the Average Excess Waiting Time shows how much longer passengers have to wait compared to what was planned.
  • For low-frequency services, the % of services that depart on time

On a periodic basis, a team of more than 100 part-time data collection staff record buses using hand-held data-capture devices at designated locations throughout the TfL area. The data is transmitted back to London Buses, where it is validated. Staff match the results against the timetable and report on how much longer a passenger would have to wait than if the bus service ran exactly as expected.

London Buses measures the performance of each route against minimum standards and benchmarks. These vary between routes in order to reflect the different operating environments in London. Factors taken into account include, for example, the number of major centres, congested corridors and other traffic hotspots served, together with the length of the route. Past performance is also taken into consideration when contracts are re-tendered.

Reports of all Quality of Service Indicators are placed in the public domain – in part for the customers’ information, in part to acknowledge good performers and the shame of below-standard performance. All results are published on the TfL website, including performance by operator, by route and by sector of the city.

Integrated ticketing: Tariff setting and ticketing in London is the responsibility of TfL. In 1997, TfL launched the PRESTIGE project to transform the ticketing system for all of London’s transport modes. This was developed as a Private finance Initiative (PFI) in which a group of private sector companies designed, developed, built, installed and support the integrated ticketing system. A new generation of electronic ticket issuing machines was deployed on London’s buses, all of London’s underground and rail stations were fitted with gates, and a new generation of both self-service and ticket-office ticket issuing machines was installed at all stations. In the background, extensive systems management, data collection and storage, and reporting and analysis software were developed.

At the core of the system is the Oyster Card, a smart card that can contain time-based tickets, stored value, and special user travel permits. The Oyster Card is integrated and interoperable across all of the transport modes operating in the London area, and has an extensive network of sales and value-loading points. Single tickets using Oyster are generally cheaper than cash alternatives.

‘Daily price capping’ automatically calculates the cheapest fare for the collective journeys a customer makes in a single day aim, to ensure that Oyster always charges the lowest fare. Where it doesn’t, TfL will refund the difference. An ‘Auto top-up’ facility is available to customers, this ensures the customers will not run out of pay-as-you-go credit by automatically topping up the Oyster card whenever the balance falls below £5.

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