Planning the route to higher bus quality

Creating a roadmap for effective implementation of high-quality bus systems in the Netherlands

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The transport sector needs to change to meet some of the global challenges we face: climate change, population growth and urbanisation. It needs to become more sustainable, which is why the Netherlands wants to introduce more high-quality bus systems. However, there are some barriers to implementing these systems.

In this thesis, through a literature review and interviews with Dutch stakeholders, a definition of the high-quality bus system is found, including its main characteristics. The most important part of this thesis is to map the existing problems. In order to solve these problems, a roadmap is designed to help with the implementation by breaking the process down into smaller, more manageable steps.

A high-quality bus system should above all be fast, frequent, and reliable, but comfort is also important for such a system. The most commonly used terms are Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Bus with a High Level of Service (BHLS). The literature and the interviews confirm that there are still many problems that should be addressed in the roadmap, from cooperation problems to short-term thinking by politicians, from blind commitment to rail to underestimating the social value of public transport.

The proposed roadmap consists of eight blocks. It begins with the creation of a city-wide vision for mobility and the formulation of a programme of requirements for the entire public transport system (i). These are translated into objectives and a programme of requirements for the line to be designed (ii). In addition, cooperation with all parties should be well regulated (iii). The next important step is to analyse the target group of (potential) passengers, the stops and the bottlenecks and intersections (iv). Only after that is the system choice made (v). If a high-quality bus system is chosen, it needs to be designed (vi). Among other things, the route, the operation, the first/last mile transport and the branding have to be designed. When the design is ready, the line can be built, and operation can begin (vii). This can be done in stages, addressing the main bottlenecks first and the rest later. This is followed by the often overlooked evaluation, which is important for learning lessons for future projects.

Stakeholder feedback and a case study show the value of the roadmap for implementation in the Netherlands. By choosing the modality later in the process, compromises in quality are avoided. In addition, the in-depth analyses improve the quality of the line and enable faster implementation by identifying the main bottlenecks. The main value of the roadmap lies in its integral approach, rather than an approach from one perspective. This means that the problems of all stakeholders can be addressed to design a high-quality public transport system that works for all.