Community of Metros News: Latest Virtual Events

As well as the recent in-person COMET Reconnects meeting held in London in May 2022, COMET has held a variety of virtual events in the second quarter of 2022 with very active engagement from metros. These include:

  • Two general meetings where metros participated in:
    • Roundtable discussions on rolling stock management and procurement, major line and signalling upgrades and latest challenges, COVID-19 circumstances and demand forecasts;
    • Summary presentations on ongoing COMET studies (Fare Evasion, Digital Transformation of Rolling Stock Maintenance, Sustainability and Environmental Social Governance Strategies).
  • Webinar on Flood Management in Metros covering metros’ vulnerability to flooding, vulnerability assessments, stakeholder engagement, infrastructural design, operational management and lessons learned from previous flooding experiences.
Extract from Flood Management in Metros Webinar (held July 2022)

Upcoming events include webinars on Key Performance Indicators and Customer Satisfaction Survey Results, and Customer Assistance in Low Staff Environments. The current list of COMET members is here.

Mexico City STC Begins Line 1 Modernisation Project

Mexico City STC presented a session to COMET on their recently launched Line 1 Modernisation Project, the organisation’s biggest undertaking in its history. Line 1 will be closed in two phases from July 2022 – August 2023 to implement the works, which include installing new track system, Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling, new communications, audio, visual and CCTV systems, a new energy supply system and the acquisition of 29 new trains. STC is aiming to deliver a number of benefits, notably improved safety and a 30% uplift in capacity (improving headways to 100 seconds), offering better service reliability, comfort and reduced waiting times for passengers.

Line 1 in Mexico City is one of the busiest metro lines in the world, serving as the central artery for one of the world’s largest cities. After more than 50 years of service a full modernisation is essential to sustain the line and to enhance capacity to world-class levels. Metros across the world must invest to renew and enhance their assets to manage ageing and to respond to customer needs, so it is great to see this project going ahead.

Alex Barron, COMET Project Director, Transport Strategy Centre at Imperial College London

Community of Metros News: Honolulu Rapid Transit Joins

Honolulu Rapid Transit has joined COMET as its newest member. It is the first member to join that is currently under construction, and is both the first driverless metro system in the United States and the first system to be equipped with Platform Screen Doors. The project’s first phase is due to open towards the end of 2022. When complete, the system will comprise 32km of mainly elevated metro, with 21 stations. The system will be integrated with the city’s bus network and customers will be able to use a single smartcard to travel on both rail and bus.

Source: HART

Community of Metros News: COMET Reconnects Meeting in London, 25-27 May

The Transport Strategy Centre (TSC) is delighted to be hosting the first in person Community of Metros (COMET) meeting since 2019 that we’ve called “COMET Reconnects”, taking place from 25-27th May 2022 in London.

We are proud to be hosting the meeting across a number of Imperial College London venues during the week, including the South Kensington Campus and the brand new White City campus which is a world-class facility focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship, and multidisciplinary research. More about Imperial College London’s White City campus can be found here.

COMET is 44 metros in 40 cities worldwide participating in an annual programme of benchmarking and knowledge sharing across a number of dimensions fundamental to metro management and operations. 20 metros from the group are in London this week, visiting the Transport for London network including the brand new Elizabeth Line, and participating in meetings centred around strategic priorities and structured discussion. Our full virtual events programme for COMET members is running this year alongside this in-person meeting.

Follow the Transport Strategy Centre’s LinkedIn page here for more updates on COMET Reconnects and on the wider work of the TSC. More detail on the TSC can be found on our website here.

Community of Metros News: PATH Joins COMET

The Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) system has joined COMET in April 2022 as the group’s newest member. PATH consists of 22.2km of network length in north-east New Jersey and New York City in the United States. It is operated and owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Source: PATH

PATH joins among the oldest metro systems in the world in COMET having opened in 1908. It is the only other COMET metro (alongside the New York City Subway operated by New York City Transit) to operate 24/7 service. It operates four services with a daily ridership of around 300,000. The organisation has been implementing its PATH Improvement Plan since 2019, adding more trains, reducing delays and improving customer experience for passengers.

Community of Metros News: Latest Virtual Events

COMET has held two webinars in February and March 2022 on the topics of Efficient Maintenance and Inspections, and Sustainable Fares and Funding.

COMET originally aimed to study the efficiency of maintenance and inspections pre-pandemic in 2019. The aim of the study is to explore the resources metros spend on maintenance and inspections in more granular detail than has been previously possible, as well as the factors influencing their maintenance and inspection regimes. 40 metros attended the webinar with supporting presentations from Nanjing Metro and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in San Francisco.

Extract from Efficient Maintenance and Inspections webinar

In March, the Sustainable Fares and Funding webinar took place with 32 metros in attendance. Financial benchmarking of metros, fares and funding continue to be longstanding areas of research and interest in COMET. Revenue from fares is the largest source of income for metros. Increasingly, uncertainty over demand caused by COVID-19 and cost pressures worldwide highlight the importance of a predictable, stable fare regime. The webinar included presentation and discussion of fare structures, fare levels, and concessionary fares, as well as long-term capital planning and funding considerations for metros.

Community of Metros News: MRT Jakarta Joins COMET

MRT Jakarta joined COMET in September 2021 as the group’s newest member. Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia, the largest city in south-east Asia and among the most populated cities in the world. The organisation currently operates one line, the North South Line, comprising 15.7km and 13 stations.

The North South Line is part of the MRT’s first phase of development. All stations have Platform Screen Doors (PSDs): half-height doors at elevated stations and full-height doors at underground stations. The next stages of the metro’s development will be two extensions to the North South Line (adding 11km and 10 stations), as well as a second East West Line.

Research: COVID-19 Discussion Paper – Impacts and Implications for Global Metros

The Transport Strategy Centre (TSC) at Imperial College London has closely monitored the impacts of COVID-19 on metro operators through the Community of Metros. This COVID-19 Discussion Paper (click to review the full paper) was published to document the main impacts that metros have faced and the key strategic implications for metro operators and their authorities for the future.

The  cover page of Community of Metros COVID-19 Discussion Paper

The paper summarises the primary and immediate impacts of the COVID-19 on metros, as well as the key future implications. Due to the pandemic, most metros, including those that did not previously require operational subsidies, are unlikely to be able to cover operating costs in 2021. The ongoing evolution of the pandemic makes it clear that the recovery period will be extended well beyond 2021 and some new travel patterns are likely to stay.

Even at much lower demand metros still provide critical urban mobility, and it is important to recognise that metros have high proportions of fixed costs and long-term impacts on economies of cities. Therefore, it is better to maximise benefits than to minimise costs. Additional government support and sustainable fares policies are critical for metros as part of a long-term strategy. Sustaining and even increasing investment programmes to modernise existing systems and build extensions would enable the best possible recovery, as well as support long-term work for generations to come.

Community of Metros News: Community of Metros CEO/COO Sessions

Following a ten-year tradition of including a CEO/COO Day as part of the Annual Meeting, this year’s sessions were held virtually due to COVID-19. All 41 member organisations joined the COMET CEO/COO Sessions on 25th March 2021. Metro executives discussed shared challenges and issues of strategic importance for metros with global peers during the two sessions for Eastern and Western time zones.

World map showing members of Community of Metros

Highlights of pre-COVID metro KPI performance and future implications were presented, along with two thematic discussions on Future Demand and Improving Resilience. Metro executives also heard highlight presentations from Hong Kong MTR and Berlin BVG sharing their perspectives and good practices in preparing for the new normal.

During the open discussion, metro executives exchanged experiences on key issues such as working with other stakeholders on policies supporting metros, opportunities to increase financial resiliency, competition between other public transport modes, etc.

Research: COVID-19 Study on Restoring Demand

During the early stages of COVID-19, metro ridership fell rapidly as lockdowns were implemented and governments urged people to avoid public transport. As restrictions begin to lift, metros face the challenge of encouraging customers back to the metro to support recovery. The Restoring Demand During COVID-19 Microstudy reviewed the actions that metros are taking to develop customer confidence, including public messaging and communication tools.

There is a wide range of forecasts for ridership recovery. Asia/Pacific metros are most optimistic about recovery. In contrast, North American metros are typically estimating ridership levels of just 60-70% of pre-COVID levels by 2022.

Bar chart of average current and estimated future ridership by region as a percentage of pre COVID-19 levels

54% of metros have conducted new COVID-19 customer surveys to understand what they expect in order to feel confident using the metro. Typically, surveys suggest that 8-15% of customers will not return to the metro even when the pandemic is over. However, the vast majority of customers expect to return when there is a low risk of infection, when vaccines have been made widely available or when they return to work.

60% of COMET metros now have formal recovery plans in place. In the short term, metros have been reassuring customers through evidence-based and enforced policies, backed up by clear and direct communication.

Examples of the posters for promoting public transports welcoming passengers to come back to the systems

In the longer term, metros will be actively promoting and normalising metro travel, stimulating non-essential demand through marketing, fares promotions and stakeholder partnerships.