Thredbo 18 Workshop Themes

Workshop 1: Mapping Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport in the 21st Century – the "Regulatory Cycle" revisited

Chair: John Preston (University of Southampton, UK)
Rapporteur: Waiyan Leong (Land Transport Authority, Singapore)

Bus public transport markets experience periods of stability, often for several decades, but sooner or later face a step-change in how they are regulated, the respective roles of public and private actors, the degree of freedom in market entry, and organisational and ownership form of operators. Change may reflect broader government policy towards markets and the appropriate role of the public sector; or transport policy, such as how it should function; or emerge from transport actors exerting themselves and gaining opportunity in a dysfunctional context. The changes may be orderly, under strong government guidance, or disruptive as a previous system breaks down. In either case, a new stability emerges for a time, only to itself be subject to another step change at some future point.

Certain patterns have been observed over time, such as periodic opening of the market to private operators and subsequently reverting to stronger public control or ownership (or vice versa); of displacement or disruption of major operators by large numbers of independent operators, who over time begin to consolidate, eventually into a few or monopolistic corporations or associations; of introducing permissive regimes that give many freedoms to operators, but later tightening up controls for reasons such as quality and safety.

It has also been observed that, over time, a series of changes tends to arrive back at the approaches of an earlier time, rather than always lead to novel approaches. The concept of a "Regulatory Cycle" has been presented at previous Thredbo conferences, reflecting that things tend to come full circle in a set of fairly recognisable phases. Different cycles were identified for industrialised countries, in which public transport remained strongly supported in the face of major mode shift to car; and for (some) post-colonial countries, where the organised public transport typically declined and was then overwhelmed by various forms of informal transport that arose to meet rapidly growing demand.

Workshop 2 of Thredbo 17 identified the need to revisit the concept of the "Regulatory Cycle". While its original form provided a very useful visualisation, it does not capture the full range of options. More importantly, if does not capture the dynamics, the possible pathways, the durability of phases, or the contextual factors of most significance. For example, phases are not always followed cyclically, phases may simply be reversed rather than move forward, and the cycle is not always followed "clockwise". New modes and actors may emerge and alter the dynamic. In addition, there may be more than one regulatory cycle in the same place, for different modes.

Workshop 2 also identified that an expanded version of the Regulatory Cycle, that captures possible pathways and dynamics, could accommodate most contexts around the world. To the two cases in the original model can be added major cases, such as the transition in China from State Owned Enterprises to privatised ownership; the emergence of competitive tendering and contracting in Indian cities; the move towards "formalisation of the informal" in African and Asian cities; and new forms of engagement with paratransit associations around mass transit in Latin America and elsewhere. Each of these requires changes to the format of regulation, relationships, and even to the regulator itself. An expanded model could also accommodate potential pathways in industrialised countries where TNCs and micromobility actors may lead to the emergence of large numbers of independent actors, bound only by their aggregator, in ways not so dissimilar to African paratransit.

This workshop seeks to develop a dynamic "Regulatory Cycle" model that captures the full range of global experience and its dynamics, based on actual policy and practice. External shocks (such as Covid and its repercussions) to the regulatory (and ownership) cycles can be considered. Papers are invited that present and explain contexts of regulatory and market change in urban road public transport. These changes may have already occurred, be in the deployment phase, or be in a committed preparatory phase. Papers are invited to focus on the nature of the change(s), the initiating and participating actors, motivations, pathways, enablers and barriers. They may also differentiate between change initiated by Government and managed by the regulator; and change emerging from market forces without explicit authorisation from the regulator. Most papers will be from practice, but a limited number of structuring conceptual papers also will be welcomed, based on observed practice. The selected Workshop papers will draw from a wide range of geographic and market contexts, to ensure the revised model is 'context-neutral' and captures the range of global experience.

Workshop 2: Emerging Practice in Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport – Developing the Informal Sector for better outcomes

Chair: Brendan Finn (Consultancy, Ireland)
Rapporteur: Roger Behrens (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

'Informal public transport' (IPT), often also called 'paratransit', is widespread throughout many of the developing and emerging countries. It appears in many forms, most typically as smaller vehicles, individually owned, with low-paid drivers working on a rental basis, and operations organised through unions or associations. There is a broad spectrum in the degree of informality. IPT poses many questions to policymakers and regulators. On the upside, in many cases IPT is the primary form of passenger transport, carrying large numbers of people daily, reaching all parts of the city, employing many people and providing an essential service without any government support. On the downside, low barriers to entry lead to lower quality of vehicles and drivers, poor maintenance, unsafe operations, lack of scheduled or integrated service, low accountability, etc.

Increasingly, national and city authorities have accepted the presence of IPT - not least because their expanding cities could not function without them. Many seek to improve their quality and behaviour as part of a negotiated strategy to give IPT a recognised and more formal role within the passenger transport system. This invariably requires adaptation of organisational models, agreed operating standards, resource rationalisation, and acceptance of stronger regulation and some form of service agreement or contract. These approaches are often termed "formalising the informal".

This Workshop examines global experience in development, upgrading and formalisation of IPT through the lens of the primary Thredbo themes – regulation, competition, ownership, agreements, organisational form, capacity development, relationships and outcomes. It will seek to identify emerging pathways for IPT development and practical landing points, their context-appropriate application, along with transitional arrangements, key enablers and barriers. Experience, lessons learned and ways forward will be identified. Papers are invited that present practice and experience in development of IPT, including formalisation. Papers should deal with at least two of the above primary themes. Papers can be from any global setting, at any phase of formalisation, as long as they deal with cases that have actually occurred or are in the deployment process. A limited number of structuring conceptual papers will also be welcomed, based on observed practice. 

Workshop 3: Infrastructure, services, and urban development

Chair: Roger Vickerman (University of Kent, UK)
Rapporteur : Wijnand Veeneman (TU Delft)

Understanding the various aspects of sustainability and the nexus to infrastructure, urban development and transport services is central to this workshop. Linking transport infrastructure to urban planning to provide an integrated approach to urban development is key. This involves both the planning and financing of new infrastructure and ensuring the management of infrastructure to provide optimal service levels. These need to recognise the need to plan for equity in accessibility and for changing needs in a post-pandemic and net zero world. This is, however, not just about the technical issues of planning and management but critically requires an understanding of the role of governance, the set of rules (cultural, legal and contractual) under which policies are formed and decisions are made between the various stakeholders. Studies on newer policy approaches such as movement or link and place strategies and 20-minute neighbourhood planning, as well as cases that integrate freight and passenger transport are encouraged as is an interest to understand the effects of the COVID-pandemic. This workshop examines what the "good outcomes" for "all" entail, what forms of governance are best suited to define acceptable outcomes, and what is needed from the practitioner and research community to achieve this. This includes studies on how minimum service levels should be interpreted and operationalised for different contexts. What is a "sufficient" level of minimum service and are there objective criteria and frameworks for arriving at this answer? Intricately linked to this is the question of who pays for the minimum service, especially if costs of provision are not fully recoverable, and on what basis. If alternative funding strategies exist and have been implemented, we would like to know how these are carried out and what lessons they might hold for other contexts. We would like to see papers from countries that have implemented such reforms, as well as countries that have tried it but for some reason chosen to reduce it.

Environmental sustainability is an essential element of any initiatives. Several cities are working with climate policies that encourage strong car reduction measures (for example zero-emission zones, parking management strategies, tolls etc). Such measures are often based on the "polluter pays" principle. However, such measures might have unintended consequences, for example to groups who have a functional need for the car but are already at risk of social exclusion. It might also affect service structures. What experiences exist from cities that have introduced such measures? How can measures be designed in order to reduce unintended effects?

Workshop 4: The use of technological innovation for achieving sustainable public transport outcomes

Chair: Barbara Yen (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan)
Rapporteur: Noleen Pisa (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

Technology encompasses a wide range of tools that enhance or enable mobility services of whatever kind. Sustainability is also a central theme – to what extent do digital transformation and technological innovation support sustainable mobility outcomes or not? This workshop welcomes papers on definitions of sustainable transport outcomes and associated achievable KPIs, in both developing and developed world contexts. Papers on advanced technology (e.g., digital twins) and innovative ways of travelling (e.g., new modes) are of interest to this workshop as are the governance and funding of infrastructure supporting future transport eco-systems. One aspect of this is how to build technology innovation into contracts designed to achieve sustainable transport outcomes. This includes developing a more inclusive approach to technology implementation as much of the current and future public transport user base is or remains vulnerable to digital exclusion. Submissions should recognise the potential of co-design / co-production technology-led solutions for achieving sustainable transport outcomes. Due to both technology and climate change moving so rapidly, the aim is to "Think big!", which includes exploiting new markets and new modes such as 3D mobility.

Workshop 5: Governing emerging mobility services including rethinking MaaS

Chair: Corinne Mulley (ITLS, University of Sydney, Australia)
Rapporteur: Kathy Bell (Standard Bank, South Africa)

The rise of new service models for passenger transport is arguably transforming the mobility landscape. Concurrently, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted mobility practices and questioned traditional public transport models. Given the negative externalities of transport, and the key role of shared mobility in reducing these, it is critical to work out what governments can do to ensure that the new service models contribute to making mobility service systems more attractive to users as well as more energy-, space- and cost-efficient, thus contributing to local sustainability objectives. To understand how emerging mobility services can contribute to long-term policy objectives and what governments must do to make that the case, it is important to continue the conversation that has evolved over three Thredbo workshops. A sequel workshop entitled 'Shared mobility services: Roles, effects & governance models in different geographies' was therefore recommended for Thredbo 18. This workshop focuses on the sharing aspect of emerging mobility services and on how mobility services and governance models, particularly models of public and private co-operation or operation, can be adapted to the circumstances of different geographical contexts.

Workshop 6: Micromobility movement in urban transport

Chair: Maria Attard (University of Malta, Malta)
Rapporteur: John Nelson (ITLS, University of Sydney, Australia)

As the growth of shared and privately-owned e-scooters, bicycles and e-bicycles continue to affect the nature and structure of urban transport systems worldwide, the theme of micromobility remains central. This workshop identifies the need for (i) a better understanding of micromobility diffusion across different geographies, (ii) the challenges and opportunities experienced so far and (iii) multimodal integration. Developments in technology and smart phone adoption have significantly improved the potential for integration, however good examples remain few and far between with some cities experiencing operational and other challenges. This is particularly true for cities in the Global South where research on such systems remains low. The innovation linked to micromobility, the evolutionary process across different contexts and the governance issues that emerge are of great interest. The opportunities and barriers to complementary multimodal integration, as well as research that investigates the impact of incentives and practices within the industry are covered. The relationships between private operators, public operators (where these still exist) and governments need to be discussed in view of governance issues that will continue to dominate micromobility deployment.

Workshop 7a and 7b: Sustainable transport systems designed to meet the needs of both users and residents

Chair: Goran Smith (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden) / Lisa Hansson (Molde University)
Rapporteur: Camila Balbontin (Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile) / Chinh Ho (ITLS, University of Sydney)

This workshop looks beyond the narrow focus on how to make public transport services competitive. Instead, it adopts a wider view of how sustainable transport systems can be designed to deliver value to both a variety of users and to residents in general. Accordingly, the workshop invites contributions that bridge the discussion on user-centred transport services with the discussion on policy frameworks for sustainable and just transport systems. The workshop, moreover, centres on accessibility. It welcomes contributions that identify factors which lead to different levels of accessibility for different households as well as contributions which analyses if these differences can be lowered by complementing traditional public transport networks with other services or measures. Finally, the workshop encourages a discussion on how social objectives, such as reducing transport exclusion, can be better represented in policy frameworks and contractual arrangements, noting that conditions may vary across rural, peri-urban, and urban contexts. Implicit here is a need to improve the understanding of the costs of meeting such objectives and of how to agree on the relative weights placed on social versus economic and environmental objectives. Mobility as a service (MaaS) and Mobility as a Feature (MaaF) are to be discussed in the context of the workshop, complementing Workshop 5.