Public transport in the Helsinki region consists of route networks of different modes of transport. VR’s commuter train services and the Metro form the backbone of the transport network, complemented by bus services and in the inner city of Helsinki also by tram services. Together, this basic setting and the region’s land use structure form the basis for the planning guidelines of HSL. The planning guidelines also support HSL’s strategy which aims at increasing the modal share of public transport.
The starting point of the planning is to make public transport as attractive as possible. This can be done by investing in the reliability and accessibility of public transport services. Flexible transfer interchanges and feeder services can also attract more users to public transport. Different travel needs and user groups, e.g. children, senior citizens and people with disabilities, are taken into account in the planning.
Public transport users are well catered for In the Helsinki region. Walking to a stop and waiting time at stop, as well as traveling on a vehicle along with connecting to another route must not take an unduly long time regardless of the time of day. The needs and expectations of the users form the starting point for the planning of public transport services. Increased use of public transport promotes sustainable development and contributes to the competitiveness of the cities. Constant work is also being done to make public transport even more environmentally friendly. Rail services are promoted and in the competitive tendering of bus services preference is given to vehicles with low emissions.
Municipalities and other stakeholders have different preferences for the level of service and financing of the services. Transport service contracts set their own requirements for the planning. In order to accommodate the needs of the different stakeholders, a great deal of constructive interaction with themis needed. Costs are the major limiting factor in the planning of the services. The cost effects of different plans are taken into consideration at all stages of planning.
Public transport services are arranged in such a way that residents can walk to the nearest stop or station in a reasonable amount of time. A sufficient amount of park and ride facilities are provided both for cyclists and car drivers next to stops and stations.
In the HSL area, public transport services operate from early morning until late at nigh, all week and year round. This ensures that residents can use public transport when they need on their way to work, school, shopping, errands or other leisure time activity.
Sufficiently fast and easy connections from all areas to local transport hubs should be arranged. If the area is served by a fast and high-capacity mode of transport such like the Metro or railway, the connection to the main hub can be arranged by feeder services, requiring passengers to interchange. Interchanging is made as smooth, safe and easy as possible.
- Transport hubs in Helsinki: Pasila, Herttoniemi, Itäkeskus and Malmi.
- Transport hubs in Espoo: Espoon keskus, Espoonlahti, Leppävaara, Matinkylä and Tapiola
- Transport hubs in Vantaa: Myyrmäki and Tikkurila.
- Transport hub in Kauniainen: the centre of Kauniainen.
- Transport hub in Kerava: the centre of Kerava.
- Transport hub in Kirkkonummi: the centre of Kirkkonummi.
In addition to the above mentioned transport hubs, important interchange locations include heavy rail stations and transfer stops of crosstown trunk routes like Jokeri. Connections to the area’s own transport hubs are either direct or they are based on arranged interchanges.
Sufficient crosstown connections are provided so that residents can move from one area to another by public transport without lengthy detours, especially during weekday peak hours as well daytime and evening hours. When increasing services, priority is given to crosstown connections to improve the attractiveness of public transport in this traffic category, which is growing most rapidly in relative terms.
Accessible urban transport is the sum of many different factors: availability of information, low-floor vehicles, elevated stops, lifts, level-crossing equipment at stations, step-free access to stops, use of materials and colours as well as maintenance of stop areas and the connections to them, including snow removal and sanding at winter. The aim is to make urban transport so accessible that all residents – in spite of possible impairments to their personal mobility - can use it to get at least from the stop closest to their home to the neighbourhood services.
Accessibility can be improved also with the help of service routes. These services are operated on a route-bound and/or demand responsive basis. On service routes the distance to the nearest stop is kept as small as possible, but a door-to-door service is not an overall goal. Service routes are operated with minibuses and there routes, hours of operation and frequency of service are designed to meet local needs.
Passengers should be able to enjoy a reasonable amount of roominess when traveling at any time of day. A seat should be made available for the majority of passengers for off-peak journeys. Only on short journeys should passengers have to stand for the entire way.
Research data is needed to support public transport planning.
HSL conducts passenger satisfaction surveys year-round to measure customers' satisfaction with public transport services. The surveys are conducted on different modes of transport and a total of over 20,000 passengers participate in the surveys annually. HSL also takes part in the international BEST survey, which is conducted annually in the participating European cities as a telephone survey.
HSL also monitors the public transport passenger numbers. Passenger numbers on bus services are obtained from the Travel Card system, while passenger numbers on the Metro are collected through automated passenger counting. For tram services, the figures are determined by manual counting.
Also so called one-off surveys are utilized in the planning. These surveys can be used to gather information e.g. on passengers’ experiences of a new route or transport needs of a new residential area.
;HSL conducts also other types of studies and surveys in addition to surveys related directly to public transport. HSL conducts e.g. origin-destination surveys and pedestrian and bicycle traffic studies, as well as monitors traffic volumes and speeds and trends in the modal split and car ownership.