Reliability the most important service quality attribute

According to a study conducted by HSL, there are numerous ways
to improve the reliability of public transport in the Helsinki
region. In the years to come, HSL strives to improve the
punctuality of service among others by introducing so called trunk
bus routes and timing points on problematic bus routes.  On tram
services, the aim is to discontinue ticket sales by drivers.

Real-time information is increased to keep passengers better
informed about possible disruptions. Traffic signal priorities are
a key development target, and there must be incentives for
operators to encourage them to improve the reliability of services.
Reliability is the most important service quality attribute for
passengers. In the program to improve the reliability of public
transport, the key factors are presented in the form of theses. The
theses include lists of the most important measures to be taken to
improve the reliability of public transport.

The theses

• The first thesis, Infrastructure plans into action, aims at
systematic, long-term implementation of small and medium size
public transport improvement measures. The most important measures
include establishing annual budgets for public transport measures
of the municipalities, and introducing municipality-specific
cooperation models. Infrastructure measures are defined in detail
in separate plans for each municipality.

• Traffic signal priorities reduce variation in travel times
and thus improve the punctuality of bus services.  However,
improved punctuality does not alone speed up public transport.  In
order to speed up public transport, signal priorities must be
extended to all signalized intersections. 

• Reliability must be emphasized in route network and
timetable planning along with speed and effectiveness more than
before. The reliability index under development can be used as a
tool to support the planning. One of the suggested measures is
adding timing points. From passengers' point of view, buses running
ahead of schedule are a bigger problem than buses running late
because passengers have to be prepared to go to the stop earlier. 

• Closer practical cooperation on the planning and operation
of transport services must be developed with operators with the aim
of true partnership. Contract incentives must be simplified and
operators encouraged to improve reliability using reliability
criteria that can be measured unambiguously. 

• Passenger services must be made more efficient from the
point of view of operation of services. The key measure to reduce
and standardize travel times is to discontinue ticket sales by
drivers on trams and selected trunk bus routes. Real-time reliable
information must be provided to passengers. For example, real-time
ETAs increase the perceived reliability:  the waiting time seems
shorter when you know how long you have to wait. Passengers whose
journeys involve transfers and passengers who can choose from
several route options can benefit from the real-time information as
they can choose another route. 

• Successful implementation of the extensive ticketing and
information system project is a prerequisite for the success of
almost all other goals and measures. The system must provide
reliable and versatile applications for the purposes of e.g.
timetable planning, implementation of traffic signal priorities,
measuring of the quality of operations and passenger information


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