Thredbo 17 Workshops

WS1 Regulatory regimes: national and comparative regulation of public transport

Chair: John Preston (University of Southampton, UK)

Rapporteur: Anders Wretstrand (Lund University, Sweden)

Previous Thredbo conferences have had workshops that focus on a comparison of more open and more regulated markets. This workshop will discuss the broad suite of issues that are facing regulators as we gain a better understanding of the role of regulation in markets that are increasingly showing a growing interest in multi-modal services, and especially how best to integrate them and to regulate as appropriate to ensure that broader societal goals are not at risk. We want to especially focus on the role that the operator/service providers can play in informing and shaping policy and strategies.

Some relevant themes are: (i) What does it take to have a well-performing public transport authority (PTA), (ii) Who in its turn will set up good contracting (tendered or not)? (iii) How to improve the governance of urban transport through the engagement of key stakeholders in a coordinating PTA? Where a trend for more public and/or private sector involvement (re-)develops: (i) What arrangements could be proposed, bearing in mind the experience of the past decades with public production and with competitive tendering, to ensure that public entities competently and efficiently provide transport services? And (ii) What does it take to make them competitive with the private sector in efficiency and performance? Papers on longer distance travel, including competition between land-based transport and aviation are welcomed. The workshop will also pay attention to the particular setup of public transport regulations, in particular rail, and illustrate the rather fundamental differences in approaches in national regimes. This should include rail, infrastructure, housing and retail.

WS2 Contracting and concessions: governance of the relationship between authorities and operators. (Governance, competition and ownership)

Chairs: Corinne Mulley (ITLS, University of Sydney, Australia/Brendan Finn (Consultancy, Ireland)

Rapporteurs: Andrei Dementiev (Higher School of Economics, Russia)/Kathy Bell (Standard Bank, South Africa)

This workshop may be split as two workshops between rail and bus, with a focus to include integrated concessions, franchises and licences. This workshop is concerned with conventional public transport which, for now at least, remains the workhorse of non-personalised mobility. A key focus is on the interaction between authorities and operators and their respective concerns, including contracting approaches over time such as tendering versus negotiated contracts. We seek papers that focus on contracting and concessioning developments with potential sub themes such as governance of relations between authorities and operators, comparing international experiences and the transferability thereof, and issues in developing versus developed countries. A key area includes adjustments made in the post COVID-19 world. Future directions will be driven by big data, emerging technologies, new business models and evolving governance arrangements. We see a key role as being the continued documentation and dissemination of best practice in this application domain.

Key questions from Thredbo 16 requiring further consideration are as follows. A crucial question is whether competitive tendering (CT) is still useful and fit for purpose. In the institutional story of the public transport sector, CT has become mature and it strengths and weaknesses are clear, even while it is a relative new instrument in some corners of the world. That triggers a new governance altogether: incremental changes to deal with the weaknesses or look for more substantial innovations for the way in which public transport services are developed and procured. Is CT creating unnecessary complexities or are only legal and procedural requirements creating problems and not intrinsic requirements of CT as such? What are the key skills for proper tendering? Is it just a question of knowledge and expertise or is there more to it? Is CT really selecting what it thinks it is selecting? Have we been paying too little attention to the other main components of CT, with the awarding procedures and models remaining substantially understudied and potentially ill-devised black boxes? Do performance incentives really work? How do they work and trickle down from authority, via contracts, to managers and drivers? And what are the alternatives in the clever use of competitive governance mechanisms in a sector with a strong governmental role.

In contrast to Western countries, Japan (especially in urban areas) has a long history of private operators playing a central role in regional public transport without relying on subsidies as the basis of their management model (namely self‐financing principle). The role of the public sector so far has been limited to providing subsidies for some necessary but unprofitable routes, and private operators have been in charge of everything from service design to daily operation. However, such an operating model must be reconsidered as the population ages and decreases with a question on the extent to which the public sector should be involved in maintaining regional transport systems. The relative roles of the public and private sectors in the provision of public transport needs revisiting, and especially post-COVID-19. Longer distance travel, including competition between land-based transport and aviation, is as much of interest as urban transportation.

WS3 Infrastructure, services and urban development

Chair: Lisa Hansson (Molde University College, Norway)

Rapporteur: Waiyan Leong (Land Transport Authority, Singapore)

Transport-oriented development and Infrastructure funding and the role of markets, governments and operators has been an ongoing theme of Thredbo. This workshop should provide the frameworks in which all the mobility services and their technologies are brought together, and can include (1) Case-studies in integrated policy development/delivery in different countries, how these are framed and how ‘wider benefits’ are treated, (2) Discussion about existence/option values of minimum service levels, (3) Impact of research in influencing policy, (4) Health benefits of public transport, (5) Externalities of social exclusion (e.g., reduced crime, improved mental and physical health, lower health and welfare costs), (6) The need for a greater emphasis on environmental benefits, and (7) The role of ‘place’, in contrast to mobility, in the context of what a good 20 minute neighbourhood looks like. A topic that is new to Thredbo is the appeal of Integration of freight and public transportation systems (co-modality). The theme is acknowledged by the European Union and discussed in many member states. Several initiatives and projects are also emerging. We are interested in discussion on strategies/plans/governance as well as operations and analyses of effects. Since this is now developing into practical applications/trials it is important to understand the potential positive as well as negative impact it might have on public transport.

We also have a suspicion that post-COVID work from home arrangements will likely become a bigger part of a new normal and unlike pre-COVID, where peak PT demand is relatively inelastic, we may have to start to more seriously rethink the role of fixed route and fixed scheduled services in our transport landscape. The possibility of having to update our financing framework if there is a drastic impact to travel demand is of relevance. We will also likely need to find ways to make on-demand/shared services more acceptable and financially viable. Given the amount of subsidies that have been poured into traditional public transport services, perhaps some of the monies could be better spent seeding more on-demand/shared services in private sector. A natural follow on question if we more aggressively pursue this route, is in the governance and regulatory controls for such services.

WS4 Optimising the impact of technological innovation on achieving sustainable public transport outcomes

Chair: Rico Merkert (ITLS, University of Sydney, Australia)

Rapporteur: John Nelson (ITLS, University of Sydney, Australia)

This workshop views technology as an underpinning theme, not a mobility service in itself but a wide range of tools that enable or enhance mobility services of whatever kind. Sustainability is also a central theme – to what extent does the digital transformation support sustainable mobility outcomes or not? While the development and implementation of digital platforms (i.e., Apps) can be included, technology should have a broader interpretation. For example, we are interested in papers on low emission strategies and the role of PT in a sustainable transport system (including electric buses). Many cities/regions have adopted polices/strategies for a transition toward a low emission PT system either directly or as part of a wider low emission strategy. However, the introduction of low emission vehicles is still slow. In this workshop the reasons for the slow implementation should be discussed as well as potential ways forward. This can include new business models, incentive systems as well as risk sharing, co-production and new technologies. The hype and rhetoric associated with many technologies means that a ‘level head’ is necessary, avoiding the technological deterministic mindset so as to ensure that technologies are not implemented for technologies’ sake, but rather leveraged to ensure societal advantage. A good example is the growing challenge on how to ensure that the volumes of data associated with digital capture can be made available to support more informed decisions on the planning of mobility and place decisions for travellers and other stakeholders. External shocks might be discussed which include corona-shocks and natural disasters, and to assess whether one of the solutions to these problems is a technological (information-based) innovation. Longer distance travel, including competition between land-based transport and aviation is of relevance, including high speed rail vs aviation vs coach, but also integration of long distance travel with urban PT.

WS5 New service models: Governing emerging mobility services

Chairs: Goran Smith (RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden)

Rapporteurs: Chinh Ho (ITLS, University of Sydney, Australia)

This workshop focuses on the rise of new service models for mobility, such as Mobility as a Service, Mobility On-Demand, Demand Responsive Transit, Ride-Sourcing, Car Sharing, and Micro Transit. In particular, the workshop investigates how the development and diffusion of such emerging mobility services relate to the roles of markets, governments, and operators.

The workshop will continue existing conversations on public transport and mobility service innovation by reporting lessons from past and on-going innovation and governance processes, and how these are shaping emerging mobility services and their impacts on society. Papers are encouraged on cases examining good and bad practice, including drivers and barriers for innovation and the alignment/misalignment of incentives across public and private actors. The overall objective of the workshop is to gather new lessons regarding the governance conditions under which innovations make public transport and mobility services more attractive to users as well as more sustainable and effective.

Three broad research questions that cater for important and interesting discussions are: (i) How do different governance approaches influence the long-term viability, equity, and social impact of emerging mobility services? (ii) How do emerging mobility services transform the roles, powers, and action spaces of the government? (iii) How is legislation and regulation drafted, negotiated, ratified, and implemented? Other topics could include a better understanding of the context of public transport within overall mobility, the social and psychological constraints and drivers of travel behaviour, the measurement of the different aspects of the fully integrated journey, and the valuation of different innovation measures, including accessibility. We are also interested in papers that are specific to a particular area of public transport innovation, including how their design and operation can contribute to more sustainable transport services.

Importantly, all papers must recognise the new post-COVID-19 environment and discuss the implications of COVID-19 on the content. For instance, will emerging mobility services, which pre-COVID-19 pandemic were niche, gradually become more mainstream and complementary to conventional public transport, or has the COVID-19 pandemic meant that all hopes for joined up travel with mainstream public transport at its core has now gone?

WS6 Micromobility movement in urban transport

Chair: Maria Attard (University of Malta, Malta)

Rapporteur: Camila Balbontin (ITLS, University of Sydney, Australia)

The fast deployment and adoption of shared and privately-owned e-scooters, e-bikes and e-mopeds, complementing or challenging existing bike-share models, is a key factor in making what once was a typical private mode a semi-public mode. The widespread availability of shared systems of micromobility will have its effect on traditional public transport. On the one hand, it has the promise of being able to concentrate public transport service provision, with micromobility filling in the areas that bus services are vacating. This could create a more efficient use of the strength of scheduled services and improve the overall quality. On the other hand, it could erode the demand for public transport so far as to trigger the need to reduce service level, rather than concentrate them. And by doing so it could provide a threat for the sustainability of public transport provision in cities.

In addition, micromobility has its own merits and challenges. Public transport is very much a long-term commitment from governments that has been structuring the city through infrastructure and service levels. Micromobility could provide a great contribution, but it operates mostly in an institutional void and in a free and open market. Which service models and what governance could best link these new forms with long-term visions of urban development and mobility futures is still very much unclear. Understanding the role of governments and markets in micromobility in various service models, their effect on mobility as a whole and public transport in particular and the role of various micromobility services in the wider development of the city are key questions in this workshop.

WS7 Sustainable transport systems designed to meet the needs of both users and residents

Chair: Roger Vickerman (University of Kent, UK)

Rapporteur: Barbara Yen (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan) / Julie Gee (Transport for NSW)

This focus on sustainable funding sometimes gets lost in the broader view of the objective of a sustainable transport system designed to meet the needs of both users and residents. The lack of trust in existing systems of provision requires a rethink that will involve much greater recognition of the behavioural norms that govern individual and social behaviour. There are two principle strands of approach that are recommended: (1) to develop wider discussion of the social and environmental context of mobility and how individual policy instruments fit into this. Transport should not be regarded as an isolated discipline and there is a need to think about issues holistically, and (2) to diversify the disciplinary contributions to provide a better understanding of the context of public transport within overall mobility and the social and psychological constraints and drivers of behaviour. The focus in this workshop is on a sustainable transport system embracing all modes to meet the needs of the population rather than a focus on sustainable financing of one element. Such a system depends on a complex set of interacting factors and not on a simple linear cause and effect model. Longer distance travel, including competition between land-based transport and aviation is of relevance.