planningIssues on the planning level

The second level of user interests aims to develop transport services which serve the passengers' needs. The topics which fall under this heading are manifold in their scope, geographic coverage and the degree of innovation required to assess the problem. Typical issues include the routing of services, timetables, ticket conditions, design of vehicles and location of stops, but also the development of new service concepts. This overlaps with the political level: Even small-scale planning issues can become political ones if users (or other stakeholders) are not satisfied and seek to protest. In this case as well as others, politicians might try to push through certain quite detailed ideas on how services should be organised. The close institutional and personal links between the political arena and transport operators in many countries facilitates such influences.
User-friendly service planning requires user needs to be known to planners and to develop services accordingly. In a competitive market, the risk of losing customers to other providers would stimulate this, but in public transport this prerequisite is often not given.

Instruments

Which instruments can be used to integrate the users' perspective in the planning process? Different options are available which overlap with other levels of the relationship between operator and customer:
  • surveying of users' (and non-users') views
  • discussion and assessment of services through participative procedures (see "political level")
  • open consultations and "voting" on alternative planning options
  • consultation with user advisory boards or similar groups (see "political level")
  • experimental services, observation techniques
  • retrospective analysis of individual comments (mainly complaints, see (see practical level)