TEST - A tool for evaluating strategically integrated public transport

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - integration


The Tools for Evaluating Strategically Integrated Public Transport (TEST) project has developed an innovative software tool to assess the most appropriate public transport technology for particular urban and inter-urban corridors. The working objectives of this research were: - to assess the economic, environmental and social impacts of different types of public transport technologies, including guided buses and other hybrid systems, both within urban areas and on inter-urban corridors; - to develop an integrated evaluation software tool that can help determine the most appropriate public transport technology (or technologies) for different public transport corridors on the basis of Total Social Costing; - to summarise this work in a Manual of Advice entitled The Supply of Public Transport. The research involved a detailed desktop review and field studies of 10 public transport systems, involving more than 50 organisations and key experts. The case sites included: Cardiff, Croydon, Edinburgh, Heathrow, Ipswich, Karlsruhe (Germany), Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Oxford. The evidence collected was used to develop a stand-alone spreadsheet model that calculates total social costs (TSC) as the sum of total operator costs (TOC), total user costs (TUC) and total external costs (TEC – which includes accidents and environmental impacts). This spreadsheet model was linked with a public transport network model (VIPS/3) and highway network models (CONTRAM8, SATURN) to form the full integrated TEST model. The appraisal outputs are compatible with the Department for Transport’s software tool TUBA (Transport Users Benefit Appraisal). Through an iterative process, this permitted transport demand to be treated as part of the modelling system. This tool has been applied to a case study of a then proposed guided bus system on the Kidlington-Oxford-Abingdon corridor. This demonstrated the ability of the TEST model to provide strategic appraisal of different public transport options. We believe the TEST model represents an important practical and academic advance on existing software. The generalised, stand-alone model suggests that, up to around 40,000 passengers a day, bus modes are the most socially efficient forms of public transport, with rail based modes then becoming the most efficient at demand levels above this. There appears to be only limited scope for intermediate public transport technologies such as guided bus and light rail. The full TEST model showed, for our Oxford case study, that the general results of the stand-alone model can be changed by specific circumstances. The application of the full TEST model suggested that guided bus was not socially efficient for an urban and short-distance inter-urban corridor with around 30,000 passengers per annum but could be potentially socially efficient if longer distance inter-urban services also used the infrastructure.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.