Veolia Transdev is publishing the first results of the biggest multi-country survey to date of transit authorities in eight major markets. Chosen for their size and the way they organize transit, they include the US, Australia-New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
From 2009 to 2012, four survey sweeps were conducted with the French polling firm Institut TNS Sofres, enabling Veolia Transdev to regularly take stock of priority issues and needs in transportation, and to identify new or recurrent transit authority expectations. A new sweep focusing on France will be carried out in September 2012.
Initiated during the 2007-2008 US financial crisis, the survey showed that the global scope of the crisis prompted transit authorities to reset their priorities so that they could weather it, totally transforming the transportation industry.
Ultimately, four major trends and some unexpected findings have emerged from this multi-country survey of transit authorities, allowing Veolia Transdev to pinpoint the main features of future mobility policies.
A reaffirmation of basic trends
Local authorities talked about their priorities for the next three years in two areas: transportation management and the management of passenger services.
The countries surveyed agree on the following points: future transportation will have to be made ever safer, better coordinated and cheaper; and passenger satisfaction is crucial.
- Passenger safety is the No. 1 priority of transit operators. It tops the list of transit authority concerns (44%), outranking cost-cutting and the development of new services. It is an absolute priority in the US (66%), Australia-New Zealand (72%) and Sweden (72%).
- The second priority (35%) is integrating different means of transportation. In most countries that involves improving and better organizing existing systems (Australia-New Zealand: 53%, the Netherlands: 53%, US: 36%). Some of these countries are dealing with congested cities and are looking for operators with expertise in integrating and optimizing entire transportation systems.
- Cutting costs is the third leading transit authority priority for the next three years. The pressure to cut costs in our industry is nothing new, but 2011 saw the greatest gains, with the item jumping from seventh place in 2009 and 2010 to third place in 2011. Cutting costs is cited as a priority by 27% of local authorities, even if they have to cut services to transit users to do so: this demand is highest in Germany (49%) and the US (40%).
Mirroring these issues concerning the expansion of transportation systems:
- Satisfying passengers is the top priority, ahead of increasing ridership (a reversal of 2009 and 2010). Mobility is a vital service and customer support for transit systems is essential. The fundamentals of good customer service listed by local authorities are complaints management and satisfaction surveys. The primary value transit authorities now expect from operators is attention to passengers needs, or “Customer Care.”
Defining priorities with future issues & challenges in mind
All of the countries surveyed perceive new technologies as central to rider satisfaction, well ahead of implementing alternative means of transportation and environmental programs.
- Real-time, customized information: a revolution that cannot be ignored With the immense possibilities offered by new technologies, information is getting smart. In a connected, tool-filled world, an average of more than one in two local authorities think that providing real-time information is a priority service. The figure jumps to three in four in the Netherlands. Customized information ranks second for 39% of local authorities. New technologies are also clearly perceived as a way to improve performance and operational efficiency, especially in Australia-New Zealand and Germany.
- Alternative transportation such as bikes and car-sharing often grab the spotlight, but these innovations are far from being the ones transit authorities most expect. Sometimes viewed as gimmicky, “soft” transportation has a crucial role to play in expanding the range of mobility options, but in the current recession, local authorities do not consider it a priority.
- Environmental considerations were put on hold in 2011-2012 compared to 2009 and even 2010. The lack of interest in actively developing environmental programs is shared by all survey countries. Yet the environment is critical to sustainable quality of life. It is a challenge for transportation operators, which in the future will have to help showcase the concrete benefits of environmental programs and initiatives.
What Veolia Transdev has to offer to meet the challenges and support transit authorities
The eight countries surveyed about their opinion of Veolia Transdev show that the operator is considered very credible.
- Veolia Transdev enjoys strong industry credibility both in terms of ability to keep passengers happy and mastery of the expertise required to operate and integrate different means of transportation. Our safety policies in the countries are also recognized, especially in Australia-New Zealand and the United States.
- Veolia Transdev can lay claim to positive image attributes, including: 1/ Attentiveness to the transit authority relationship in contract management; 2/ Proximity to local needs and situations; 3/ Flexibility and openness; and 4/ A passenger focus. This is the result of our work as a local partner.
- The survey was conducted by the French polling firm Institut TNS Sofres.
- Some 300 high-level decision-makers, including politicians, technical specialists, large local authorities, clients and non-clients, were interviewed between 2009 and 2012.
- In-depth interviews were conducted by country each year, involving open-ended and closed-ended questions and 30-minute telephone interviews.
- The survey aimed to explore the following three areas:
– What are the challenges perceived by transit authorities?
– What are their expectations in terms of proposals and services?
– What do transit authorities see as operators’ areas of responsibility?