Local and regional public transport (PT) systems face many challenges, which include the emergence of a competitive environment, changing institutional frameworks and increasingly scarce financial resources.
The project SPUTNIC aimed to help PT actors and decision makers to shape PT into an attractive and efficient mode of urban transport.
The objectives of SPUTNIC were to:
- support key stakeholders in anticipating and preparing for emerging challenges in the field of urban mobility;
- provide an updated overview of state-of-the-art knowledge and research results in the area of urban mobility and public transport;
- collect available best practices and assess their transferability to enable sector-internal learning from advanced experience;
- present specific guidelines and tools to benefit from best practices identified throughout European regions and cities;
- provide an opportunity for PT professionals to update their existing knowledge with latest research results and advanced practical solutions;
- offer a platform for discussion and exchange of experiences amongst public transport professionals in Europe;
- disseminate widely the key project outputs amongst public transport stakeholders both in EU and candidate countries.
SPUTNIC aimed to help to increase the growth and competitiveness in the PT sector. Good practice and policy recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of PT systems and services will make PT more attractive and customer oriented. This in turn, will help to achieve a modal split in favour of sustainable development, notably in terms of reduction of externalities and congestion. More attractive and competitive PT will also have positive impacts on economy, employment, safety and security.
SPUTNIC built on the outcome of the VOYAGER project and paid special attention to PT-related challenges in the New Member States. While the VOYAGER project aimed at general analysis and provided overall recommendations, SPUTNIC took up the most urgent challenges identified and provide more specific guidance.
The core activities of the project relied on a wide network of PT experts, participating in Working Group meetings or plenary session, where the key findings of project will discussed and validated.
Four Working Groups of experts supported the following four SPUTNIC priority areas:
- Market organisation.This working group focuses on effective cooperation of public transport actors, tariff optimisation and integration, innovative financing, incentive contracts and monitoring systems which improve system quality and reduce costs.
- Customer relations.This group focuses on the interrelations between the providers and customers with attention to mobility data and travel patterns, the image of public transport, marketing strategies and customer-relations management, and integration of monitoring results in operations and services.
- Corporate management. This group analyses organisational and management issues, including human resource development and management, performance indicators and knowledge management, business re-organisation to improve efficiency of management, and cost management.
- Equipment and operational aspects. The efforts of this group focus on operational and technical matters, including upgrading and modernisation of infrastructure, second-hand rolling stock, safety issues, transfer of innovative technologies and operational and fleet management market organisation.
A number of specific products are developed as outcomes of working groups:
- an updated overview of state of the art knowledge and research results in the area of urban mobility and public transport;
- available best practices and assessment of their transferability to enable sector-internal learning from advanced experience;
- specific guidelines and tools to benefit from best practices identified throughout European regions and cities.
On the basis of the findings of research projects results, the challenges that the PT sector is currently facing have been identified:
- Challenges concerning the interaction between the different PT actors.
Public service contracts that clearly define PT actors' roles and provide incentive for quality and efficiency in PT shall support entrepreneurial behaviour and innovation in the sector.
- Challenges related to the internal organisation of (traditional) operators.
The need to increase the overall performance at a company level is translated in the need to streamline the organisation, to improve efficiency of existing management and to introduce new up-to-date methods.
- Challenges stemming from the relations with customers.
There is a clear need in many cases to convince PT managers of the potential of marketing tools to improve PT image, to increase PT patronage and revenue.
- Challenges related to technical aspects of PT.
Increased quality of infrastructure and rolling stock has major impact on the attractiveness of PT systems. It is often difficult for operators to choose the most economical way to improve the state of their fleet while reconciling the expectations/needs of customers with important financial constraints.
Furthermore, on the basis of the state of the art analysis of European Public Transport systems it has been found that:
- the upcoming EU regulation on public passenger transport services by rail and by road will fundamentally shape the forms of cooperation between PT authorities and operators by including the element of Public Service Contracts;
- to be cost-efficient and effective, integration in the PT sector has to comprise all fields such as, networks, timetables, tariffs, fares and services between operators on the one side and between operators and third parties on the other side;
- due to structural under-financing PT should consider suitable funding alternatives focussing on tax exemptions, congestion charges, International Finance Institutions credits, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and value capture tools;
- integrated and sustainable PT strategies need to be developed on the basis of managing PT users' perceptions through continuous monitoring and communication tools;
- potential marketing methods which improve PT image and increase PT patronage have to be the result of an ongoing dialogue with PT users identifying their mobility behaviour and needs