Driving bus passengersatisfactionDavid SidebottomPassenger Team DirectorPassenger Focus25 April 2013
What I’ll be talking about....• A bit about Passenger Focus• Inputs and outputs• How do we measure the outputs of policy,investment and development - ask passengers!?
Passenger Focus• Independent consumer watchdog for Britain’s railpassengers and bus, coach and trampassengers in England outside of London• Aim is to make a difference and be useful...notjust a think tank• Robust, evidenced based research and policy• Represent passengers’ priorities andexperiences
Passenger Focus• We are a consumer organisation• Not a pro-public transport campaigner• Not part of the “anti-car” lobby• Others do the public transport and “green” lobby• Pro-passenger!
Lots of chat about “inputs” – the rules,lack of cash, partnerships…
Outline of BPS programme (1)Key methodological points:• survey of journey experience• sampling/representativeness at area level• uses data in Traveline of services per area• good level of maturityCoverage:• around 20 transport authority areas• mix of repeats and new areas• account for around two thirds of remit area journeys• about 20,000 passenger responses
Outline of BPS programme (2)Boost funding:• almost doubled the size of the survey – grown with eachwave• both operators and transport authoritiesCoverage:• type of ticket; journey information; bus stop; waiting times• on the bus; the bus driver; overall satisfaction; value formoney• classification questions – age, gender, access to privatetransport etc
Bus Passenger Survey 2012-13 areasArea Area AreaDevon Nottinghamshire Tyne & Wear PTEEssex Oxfordshire WarringtonKent South Yorkshire PTE West of EnglandPartnershipMerseyside PTE Suffolk West Midlands PTEMilton Keynes Tees Valley West Yorkshire PTENorthumberland Transport for GreaterManchester PTEWorcestershireNottingham City ThurrockCambridgeshire BRT Hampshire BRT
BPS – overall satisfaction5337474830395546444249483843465037354142405438433838444037404742373946444137444444414735691091212556108897861213108473844853734434334554553142174112223323231351Devon(1016)Essex (645)Kent (1410)Merseyside PTE (1225)Milton Keynes (618)Northumberland(668)Nottingham City (557)Nottinghamshire (461)Oxfordshire (620)South Yorks PTE (1632)Suffolk (645)Tees Valley(1697)TfGM (664)Thurrock (383)Tyne & Wear (1550)Warrington(279)West Eng. Part. (532)West Mids PTE (3538)West Yorks PTE (1604)Worcestershire (390)Cambs BRT(295)Hants BRT(307)Very satisfied Fairly satisfied Neither/nor Fairly dissatisfied Very dissatisfied% - very / fairlysatisfied*90798487737992879183868784878787827985838789• Compare areas at aglance• 73% to 92% (average84%)• Similar to rail (average85%)
BPS – overall satisfaction – key groups• Can look at range of keygroups - disparity betweenthe higher and the lowerperformers more noticeablefor some• Fare payers range 69% to90% - average 81%• Free pass 85% to 98%(averaging 91%)60%65%70%75%80%85%90%95%100%Free passholdersFarepayersCommuting NoncommutingHas adisabilityHighest scoreIntermediate scoresLowest score
BPS – value for money (fare payers)• Much wider range -30% to 70% -averaging 54%• Noticeable levels ofdissatisfaction• Higher than rail23131924171228272026272420202422132021262010293229313126423839333137323235362230343436201522141921161314191716161816161723191616162920171516172210121615161417201618221618131918131622101524697910912119720141110924Devon(365)Essex (196)Kent (473)Merseyside PTE (483)Milton Keynes (303)Northumberland(232)Nottingham City (277)Nottinghamshire (205)Oxfordshire (385)South Yorks PTE (775)Suffolk (241)Tees Valley(598)TfGM (328)Thurrock (160)Tyne & Wear (757)Warrington(124)West Eng. Part. (266)West Mids PTE (1941)West Yorks PTE (706)Worcestershire (104)Cambs BRT(180)Hants BRT(89)Very satisfied Fairly satisfied Neither/nor Fairly dissatisfied Very dissatisfied% - very / fairlysatisfied*53454855483870655859586153535958355055605530
BPS – value for money – key groups• Age 16 – 34: range 29% to 65%• Age 35 – 59: range 39% to 77%25%30%35%40%45%50%55%60%65%70%75%80%Aged 16 to 34 Aged 35 to 59 Commuting Non-commutingHighest scoreIntermediate scoresLowest score
BPS results - helping target resourcesand recognise investment• BPS results being used by transport authoritiesfor:- Better Bus Funding submissions- Local Sustainable Transport Fundsubmissions- Quality bus corridor investment• Measure impact of investment and follow upwork• How could BPS results help you and yourpartners?
Our ambitions for BPS...• Seek greater contribution from both operatorsand authorities...• To gain greater coverage of bus journeys madeacross England, outside of London• Measurement for local and national investmentin bus services• Establish BPS as the comparable,benchmarked, national measure of buspassenger satisfaction
BPS – what affects journey length?0%5%10%15%20%25%30%35%40%Congestion/traffic jamRoad works Bus driverdriving tooslowlyPoor weatherconditionsWaiting toolong at stopsTime it tookpassengersto boardHighest scoreIntermediate scoresLowest score• Congestion averaged 24%(ranging 12% - 34%)• Time it took passengers toboard 20% (15%-31%)• Road works 11% (3%-26%)• Weather 6% (1%-14%)• Waiting too long at stops6% (3%-13%)• Bus going too slowly 6%(2%-11%)
Why and what?• Why are we interested in the subject?- link to passengers’ top priority for improvement – punctuality- it is a major issue for rail passengers – similar for bus?• Research looking at bus passengers’- experiences of delays and service disruption- what would help when it happens• Qualitative research- focus groups of passengers in Leeds, Manchester, Exeter,Brighton, Birmingham and Sudbury (Suffolk)- interviews with passengers aged 80+- interviews with passengers with a range of disabilities- interviews with bus drivers
Findings – attitudes to delays• Most passengers understand that buses will get caughtup in traffic- to a degree, they accept it as inevitable- but, they feel more effort is needed to prevent delays/disruption arising from issues within a bus company’s control[You’ve] got to allow a bit oftime for the buses – it’s notexactly like the train(Sudbury – concessionary pass holder)I feel very well serviced in thisarea, apart from the usualroad works and road traffic(Birmingham – commuter)I think its terrible that you can’t rely on the buses. I have toleave early to get to work on time and just have a coffee if I getin early. It would be nice to get the later bus which would getme to work on time but I can’t take the risk and my bosswouldn’t be happy if I kept blaming the bus(Brighton)
Findings – consequences of delays• Late for work• Late picking up children• Late for medical appointments• Anxiety• Stress• Additional expenseI ended up picking up mydaughter late from school theother day because the bus wasreally late because of roadworks. That was really stressfuljust thinking about my daughterbeing left there(Leeds – commuter)There’s always anxiety of thelast bus is late… you get the busor it’s a £30 taxi(Sudbury – concessionary pass holder)I have to get two buses to work and that canmake things difficult(Leeds – commuter)You’ve got to be in Bury at the job centre by a certaintime, otherwise they stop your money!(Sudbury – younger leisure)I was cross about that, because Imissed my [doctors] appointmentand they wouldn’t let me in; I had togo back another day(concessionary pass holder, 84, Leeds)
Findings – what would help?Better information• Strong sense that bus passengers feel powerless whenfaced with delays.• Many feel there is no way of finding out what is going on• Adds to stress and anxietyIts mental torture sometimes atbus stops working out whether tostay or whether to go(Leeds – commuter)
Findings – what would help?Better informationWith buses there are nomechanisms to find outwhat’s going on – whetherit’s cancelled or reallydelayed. You do findyourself just stood therewaiting(Leeds – commuter)You just get yourinformation from whoever’sstood there at the bus stop(Manchester – commuter)You don’t know what to do you see, if you’restanding there and it hasn’t come… you’rethinking ‘Oh my goodness, have I missed it, haveI missed it?’… you don’t know what to do ‘causeyou’ve got to wait for another 112 to comealong… you just have to wait and hopefullysomebody says, ‘Oh yes, it’s running late’(Birmingham – commuter)National Rail haslive departureswhich is reallyuseful – why can’tthe buses do thesame?(Leeds – commuter)
Findings – what would help?Real-time departure displays at bus stops• Passengers strongly favour real-time departure displays atbus stops- inclusive- reassuring- allows informed choiceI think it’s the best idea there is, really(concessionary pass holder, 84, Leeds)It gives you the impression thatsomebody out there knowswhat’s going on(Birmingham – commuter)
Findings – what would help?Smartphone apps• Real-time information via Smartphoneapps has strong appeal for someBut .....• Almost no awareness of existing apps for bus travel outsideLondon• Few associated apps with bus travel – a feeling that buscompanies (except in London) don’t do that sort of thing• Assumption that an app would give static information – notdisruption information in real timenote: lack of awareness and cultural assumptionsabout bus companies to overcome
Other findingsPhone numbers for information• Usual assumption is that you would phone up retrospectively tomake a complaint, not for live information• Most (but not all) are aware of a phone number being provided, orassume that there would be one if they looked• Only a minority have used – lukewarm reaction to this as aninformation source• Experience of helpfulness is mixed• Concern about being put on holdTexting for information• Many aware of the service and have used it• Generally found to be quite reliable• …but a couple across the sample have received inaccurateinformation, or text has come through late. This puts them off usingit ever again – a complete loss of confidence• Generally a positive reaction to the concept• But a strong aversion to having to pay for this service• Both methods of information require a mobilephone, so can exclude some• Onus is on the passenger to find out
Other findingsWebsites• Most assume that bus companies and local councils willhave information about disruption online, but virtually none ofthose we spoke to would ever look for themselves• Websites will be used by bus passengers to research newroutes, for example if just moved to the area/changed job, orto look for timetables – but not for disruption planning• In contrast, passengers talked about using websitesextensively to find disruption information when travelling bytrain or car.- rail and car journeys of greater consequence- not part of the mindset when travelling by bus – need a prompt to look• Some experience of information not being updated – outsideoffice hours, for example
Other findingsSocial media• Mixed reactions, ranging from those enthusiastically in favour …. tothose who found the idea completely ridiculous• Twitter preferred to Facebook: the difference between “receivinginformation” (Twitter) and “interacting with friends and family”(Facebook)• Don’t assume the audience will be ‘younger’ passengers- many school/university students in this research do not havesmartphones to facilitate social media on the move- and for these groups in particular, social media is often aboutentertainment only, with little room for information• Crucial to be able to filter for relevant routes• Concern about resourcing – can they cope? who will pay for staff?I’m not saying this isn’t a good idea because I think it is, butthis is going to peak at 8am, and is ‘Bernard’ going to beable to answer everybody’s message that comes in – am Igoing to be at work before somebody gives me a response?(Manchester – commuter)
Findings – what would help?Greater customer-focus from drivers• Significant gap between passengers’ experiences and theirdesire that bus drivers behave as the customer servicerepresentative during disruption• Passengers want drivers to be providing information,demonstrating empathy and expressing regret duringdelays and disruption• But they also recognise that, at times, there is genuineconflict between ‘operations’ and ‘customer service’ in adriver’s role
Findings – what would help?Greater customer-focus and information from driversFor most people the only interactionthey have with the bus company isthrough the drivers so they shouldmake a lot more effort than they do(Brighton – leisure)[The driver was] utterly, utterlyindifferent, and it was chaos andpeople were panicking and they werefrightened that they weren’t going toget home… he couldn’t have beenless helpful if he’d have hit me overthe head with a fence post(Sudbury – concessionary pass holder)I work in customer servicesand would never get awaywith how the bus driversspeak or grunt at people.They are stuck behind thetimes with customer service.(Exeter – leisure)Bus drivers give you no info,you can hear them beinggiven info via the radio butthey don’t feed it back(Leeds – commuter)Bus drivers should relay the information [they receive overradios] – that’s useful, courtesy and customer service(Leeds – commuter)
Findings – what would help?Good practice ....The bus broke down and the drivergot on his radio…he just radioedthe depot and they sent cabs…picking us all up, taking us allhome, right to the door…I couldn’tpraise that enough(Sudbury – concessionary pass holder)
Findings – bus drivers’ view• Drivers tend to recognise disruption in the same way thatpassengers do (e.g. congestion, road works/blocks,diversions, weather, accidents, mechanical problems)• Recognise that they are passengers’ only point of contact• But drivers tend to perceive passengers have moreknowledge than they do – an assumption that things havebeen seen, read, understood and assimilatedThey can see that something’shappened there, it’s not just a queueof traffic, they’ve probably seen thatthere’s been an accidentYou can see the posters up at thestop so they know the bus will divert[For example] there’s been an accident….you can get in touch with [yourbase] and say am I ok if I go up here, and they’ll… say yes ok… andaway you go – you’re putting an effort in, which you know [thepassengers] can see you doing so they appreciate that
What next….?• Developing recommendations from our research• Shared research results• Discussing now with bus industry
Coming soon…tram passengersatisfaction…compare with bus?
Summary…• Importance of measuring and sharing thesuccess of your work and outputs• Comparable, benchmarked passengersatisfaction research• Discreet passenger research where needed• Developing and sharing best practice• Keep talking to passengers• Keep talking to Passenger Focus!
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