The development of a benchmarking handbook for public transport operators

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - standards


Effective passenger transport systems are essential for European economies and for the quality of life of European citizens. The growth in demand for transport has been met by an increase in the use of the private car at the expense of public transport. The use of the private car rose from 1,590 billion passenger km in 1970 to 3,592 billion passenger km in 1995, while that of public transport (bus, coach, rail) rose from 478 billion passenger km in 1970 to 632 billion passenger km in 1995 (DG TREN, 1997)o The European Commission has recognised the need for a modal shift from the private car to the more sustainable forms of transport (public transport, walking, cycling). One of the ways in which public transport might be improved and therefore attract more passengers is the engagement of transport operators in benchmarking. By benchmarking, an operator is able to compare performance measures (known as indicators) with other operators, so that areas of relative strength and weakness can be determined. Once these are known, benchmarking partnerships can be set up whereby data, information, ideas and methods are shared for mutual benefit. In order to compare indicators they must be measured in the same way. The EQUIP Handbook will define each indicator and explain how it should be measured. Therefore, by using the Handbook an operator is sure that meaningful comparisons may be made with others. This paper begins by defining benchmarking and looking at the role of benchmarking in the Continuous Improvement Process before examining the extent of benchmarking in the public transport sector and initiatives undertaken by the European Union (EU) which led to the sponsorship of the EQUIP project. The next section of the paper concentrates on the 'objectives of the EQUIP project and summarises the way in which the principal output, the EQUIP Handbook, has been developed. The nature of the EQUIP Handbook follows before the section on the EQUIP Network, consisting of public transport operators and local authorities, which provided the validation of EQUIP's work and ensured that the Handbook was relevant and useable.


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