Thredbo 15 Workshops

Workshop Plans

Download the workshop plans below; these contain the paper listing, schedule and discussion topics for each workshop.

Workshop 1. Integrating rail and bus based modes (including BRT) into a user-relevant transport system

Chair: Professor Graham Currie

Rapporteur: Dr Dario Hidalgo

Building on Workshop 4 of Thredbo 14 and its more general discussion on developing inter-modal transport systems, this workshop should focus on the challenges in finding an appropriate role of bus and rail modes into an integrated transport system. We need to move away from debates on rail or bus towards a debate on bus and rail integration. Establishing conditions under which various bus or rail treatments really work (from full BRT to lighter versions) will be an important part of this workshop. The workshop will cover themes such as:

  • Transit Oriented Development around bus as well as rail including BRT-oriented development (BRTOD) – the strategic orientation of urban development around BRT.
  • Identifying and designing opportunities for bus and BRT to interact with other modes, particularly non-motorised and electric vehicles.
  • Network and timetable synchronization to improve convenience and provide seamless transfers between all modes.
  • Understanding the customer experience around integrated transfer sites and how this varies by bus, rail and BRT.
  • Thresholds for cost‐effectiveness, mobility and accessibility factors for investment in bus‐based technologies versus rail systems (metros and LRT) and developing decision frameworks to aid policy makers across many global contexts.
  • Innovative methods to build and sustain community and political engagement and buy‐in for effective rail, bus and BRT as a key surface-transport service articulating a fully integrated and sustainable transport system in cities of diverse sizes and characteristics.
  • Examination of instruments and policies that allow successful institutional and service integration of incumbent (sometimes informal) operators with formal, publicly sponsored, rail, bus and BRT systems.

This workshop should also focus on understanding why new transit systems including BRT systems often struggle to meet initial expectations regarding service quality or operating subsidy, and also to understand what capacity, resource and political economic dynamics/constraints have prevented transit projects from being implemented and how. Can transit including BRT be an "agent of transformation" in transport, institutions, industry structure and PT contracts? Of interest in many countries is whether we should be restoring large bus operations where they have been substantially replaced by paratransit/informals or with new technologies such as app-based taxi services (taxi-like services are discussed further in another workshop), and developing the structures and capacity of the industry sector that best address these issues.


Workshop 2. Competitive tendering and other forms of contracting-out: institutional and contract design and performance measurement


2a. Bus/Coach and General Public Transport

Chair: Professor Rico Merkert

Rapporteur: Maria Melkersson


2b. Rail and General Public Transport

Chair: Professor John Preston

Rapporteur: Dr Heike Link


This workshop builds on Workshop 2 of Thredbo 14 and several previous workshops looking at the introduction of, and continued use of, competitive tendering and other types of contracting-out as a way to introduce more competition in public transport services.

In several countries, the significant efficiency-gains of tendering are things of the past, with authorities and operators facing the challenge of keeping a tendered regime meaningful in the long run in mature markets. Understanding both which factors make procurement successful, and which make them fail are subjects of this workshop. These factors include choices and practices in contract design, performance measures and indicators (KPIs), incentive and penalty regimes, benchmarking and the distribution of risks of operation.

The relation between the authority and the operator is of particular interest, including how to implement strong public transport in weak institutional frameworks. Some focus should be given to regulating, managing and developing the informal and paratransit sector; including guiding it to improved service, safety and organization. Developing appropriate means of procurement, contracts and payment structures in context of inexperienced transport agencies and uncertain finances is of interest.

Further, the potential and experiences of hybrid regimes, for example applying both tendering and direct award, other types of performance-based contract regimes, and deconstructing the governance elements and their effects on performance are also relevant, as well as the costs of tendering in terms of switching operators or transaction costs of the tendering process.

The workshop encourages papers on all these topics both from mature and new markets and representing different institutional settings.


Workshop 3. Market initiative regimes: experience and measures to improve performance

Chair: Didier Van de Velde

Rapporteur: Dr Astrid Karl

This workshop continues in the tradition of past Thredbo conferences (most recently Workshop 7 from Thredbo 14) to discuss the experience with innovation and entrepreneurship and measures that can improve performance in regimes where autonomous market-initiative plays a role.

The workshop will cover collective modes of transport (bus, coach or rail) in local, regional and long-distance markets (taxi-like services are covered by another workshop). Autonomous market entry could either be the main institutional feature or part of a hybrid regime where market-initiative is an option, for example in addition to a market otherwise characterised by tendering. Studying competitive tendering or other forms of contracting-out will however not constitute the topic of this workshop.

This workshop is interested in receiving case studies of both good and bad practices, in terms of legislation and regulation, but also in terms of local action by transport authorities. These can come from existing deregulated regimes (e.g. detailed analyses of examples of quality partnerships from Great Britain, the process leading to their appearance and their performance), recently added experience of deregulation (e.g. long-distance coaches in Germany and France, etc.), on-the-track rail competition (e.g. in Sweden, Italy and Austria), and other markets where market-initiated regimes play a role, such as in Central and Eastern Europe. Long-term conclusions and retrospective analyses from mature markets, such as in Great Britain or New Zealand, are also of interest.

Participants to the workshop are encouraged to develop papers on theoretical issues and optimal regulatory requirements (what regulatory are needed to optimise the functioning of such markets?), papers that discuss the evolution of the regulatory environment (what leads to new legislation, such as the Buses Bill in Britain, and to its specific contents?), papers on the circumstances that favour better performance at the local level (what determines the uptake of regulatory possibilities by the local authorities?), papers that realise case studies (what type of innovation and entrepreneurship can be witnessed at that level?), papers that monitor and evaluate schemes where measures have been taken to promote network effects within a deregulated regime (cases of service coordination and the integration of fares, ticketing and information), etc.


Workshop 4. Criteria for successful collaboration

Chair: Professor Tom Rye

Rapporteur: Associate Professor Karolina Isaksson

A client-performer type of relationship often characterizes interaction between organizations in public transportation. However, many challenges facing public transportation require innovative solutions that do not easily emerge from such relationships. This workshop focuses on voluntary collaboration between public and private organizations as a key dimension of public transport governance. Collaborative arrangements can in some cases be a complementary approach to client-performer relationships (when allowed within the legal framework).

Collaboration between organizations with different resources and aims is often crucial for the ability to identify, develop and implement efficient solutions to problems that exceed traditional divisions of responsibility. It can foster trust (trusting partnerships) and joint capacity for innovation. However, precautions might be necessary to avoid corruption. It can also raise questions regarding legitimacy, transparency and accountability. Collaboration can take place in formalized partnerships or more informal networks.

The workshop will address both positive and negative experiences of collaboration and lead to the formulation of key lessons regarding collaboration as a critical dimension in the interaction between the organizations that drive the development of future transport solutions. We welcome research papers on collaboration in a wide set of circumstances and contexts, e.g. related to planning, infrastructure development and provision of public transport services in different institutional regimes.


Workshop 5. Bridging the benefit / funding gap

Chair: Professor John Stanley

Rapporteur: Dr Anders Ljungberg

This workshop builds upon the results from Workshop 3 from Thredbo 14, examining different ways to bridge the benefit/funding gap in public transportation. That workshop sought to identify the benefits and costs of sustainable public transport and then link this to possible means of funding services and service improvements. Such funding will ultimately come either from government (national, regional or local), increased land value, users or others who benefit in some way from public transport services.

Different ways to monetize the benefits and costs of public transport will be highlighted in this workshop. We welcome research studying benefit measurement pricing and funding of public transport systems in urban areas of different scales, geographies and levels of development. This may also include examples of regimes where ticket fees have been abandoned altogether. Moreover, we welcome comparisons with pricing and funding regimes of other relevant services. A wide range of issues are of interest, e.g. land value capture in greenfield and brownfield settings, funding implications of gross cost and net cost contracts, potential for and challenges with private sector funding, fiscal federalism and/or cities deals, including the role and implications of government funding at various levels. A related issue of interest is whether social support to public transportation should be given to individuals rather than to public transport organizations (or systems) and, if so, how this might best be managed.


Workshop 6. Wider impacts of public transport and successful implementation of desirable and beneficial projects

Chair: Associate Professor Christo Venter

Rapporteur: Dr Wai Yan Leong

This workshop builds on Workshop 8 at Thredbo 14 and its discussions on the wider economic, social and environmental impacts of investment in public transport. Being the conventional tool for evaluating public transport projects, cost benefit analysis (CBA) may not capture all benefits, thereby deeming some projects less likely to be accepted for implementation. There is both a justification for the inclusion of wider impacts (where they exist) and an improved communication of all impacts.

As concluded at Thredbo 14, accessibility is an important measure of benefit, but seems challenging to communicate only within a general CBA. Other accompanying measures need to be included if the objectives are to evaluate distributional and social policy. These parameters are driven by accessibility changes, by measures of economic development for cities and regions and by social inclusion of community development for neighborhoods. In order to understand the contribution of accessibility, it is necessary to document how different accessibility aspects deliver social benefits or harms, such as new employment, employment accessibility, intermodal connections, access to health care, access to education, and how these variables are influenced by income and preferences.

Papers are encouraged that a) make estimations of wider economic benefits of public transport projects (investment in infrastructure and/or development of operation) and/or b) provide ex-post studies of implemented projects comparing social benefits with costs. Discussions on ex-post cases are needed to identify the change in risk estimates from including wider social and economic impacts, in particular community involvement, operator and authority behaviour, and factors outside the control of all stakeholders.


Workshop 7. The “uberisation” of public transport and mobility as a service (MaaS): implications for future mainstream public transport

Chair: Professor Corinne Mulley

Rapporteur: Professor Annica Kronsell

The widespread adoption of wearable internet-connected devices such as smartphones, with easy-to-install customised apps for handling a number of services and tasks, has opened up new possibilities in the transport sector. For example, sharing real-time location data and preferences between potential passengers and vehicle providers through apps has given birth to a range of ride-hailing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, as well as new car-sharing services, such as BlaBlaCar and Zipcar, with the impact being particularly strongly felt in the traditional taxi market. In some cities and countries, the new services have been welcomed and even facilitated, while in others there have been clashes with regulators as well as with incumbent operators.

In the early years of the Thredbo Conference series, the taxi market was given much attention, in particular relating to efforts aimed at market opening and deregulation. The impact of various forms of taxi services has also been a recurrent theme in discussions of the sometimes informal, unregulated part of the transport sector, notably in developing countries. This workshop highlights the need to revisit the taxi market and study how changes in ownership and competition create a new landscape. There appears to be an abundance of more or less documented cases from many countries. Coupled with the visible effects and experiences gained, fundamental questions arise on how to treat the new entrants. What kind of regulation is appropriate in order to create “fair” conditions in the market and perhaps set minimum standards? Will such efforts lead to market exit or collaborations to provide door-to-door services? Are the business models of the new entrants really sustainable or are new business models needed and, if so, what might they look like? The collected knowledge of previous Thredbo conferences should make it possible to give a contribution to these and other current issues. Papers looking at the various experiences and regulatory reactions in different geographical settings and contexts are welcome.

The shared economy and technological developments made possible by digitalization, which have broader implications for public transport to consider, are also part of this workshop. Can a wider implementation of the practices of the ride-hailing companies lead to new ways of creating flexible and truly on-demand urban bus services? Are there special implications for transport services for passengers with reduced mobility? Will the adoption of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles and new mobility and business models such as mobility as a service (MaaS) open up mobility options that respond to user needs? How might the various players (existing and new) position themselves to benefit by new possibilities offered as a result of digitalization? Will the way public transport is organized and financed ultimately be disrupted – and what will be viable in terms of competition, contracts and governance? What implications are there for traffic congestion, and who really benefits?

We welcome research on institutional, social and economic aspects (in particular regarding Thredbo cornerstones like ownership and competition) related to the assessment, planning and implementation of less conventional and innovative solutions. Papers relating to countries where car ownership is low (as in many developing economies) as well as countries with high car ownership are equally welcome.


Workshop 8. Big spatial data and data analytics in the digital age and how it can benefit public transport users

Chair: Professor Marcela Munizaga

Rapporteur: Menno Yap

Workshop 5 at Thredbo 14 initiated a discussion on Big Data and its relevance for public transportation, for example to improve planning and operations. It was concluded that although progress has been made in terms of its utilization, much remains to be done. Examples include standardization of data formats, development and sharing of analytical tools and best practices across the industry, collaboration between academics and transit agencies, data fusion using data from different sources, and utilization of data generated in transportation systems for “outside applications” such as urban planning, healthcare and public safety.

In general, there is a need for more case studies to be discussed, involving people from a broad range of stakeholders and disciplines. In addition to the need to continue work on models to extract knowledge from historical transportation data, there is a largely unexplored area of predictive transportation models that can be built using big data.

This workshop welcomes papers that can contribute to the further development and knowledge related to the use of big data in public transportation. Case studies that involve collaboration between academics and practitioners, with direct implications on policy or other developments that will benefit the users of public transportation, are particularly welcome.