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

Research: Sustainable Fares and Funding

Ensuring that metro fare and funding structures are sustainable is vital to cover both short-term operating costs and to continue investment in the metro to maintain service quality for the longer term. The study brought together information from 33 metros to explore how metros set and review fares, to compare fare structures, fare levels and fare products across metros, and to understand how COVID-19 has impacted fares and funding arrangements.

Considerations for setting metro fares

Fare revenue is the largest and most important revenue source for metros. The study builds on previous work in COMET on fares and funding by particularly considering the sustainable element of metro revenue generation, considering important current factors such as rising inflation and prices, fare adjustment mechanisms, and concessionary fare offerings.

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.

COMET Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey Goes Live

The annual COMET Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) has gone live! 24 COMET metros are surveying their customers from 28th March to 1st May on multiple service quality areas relevant to satisfaction with metro services. Metros will be publicising the survey using their own channels and platforms.

The extent to which organisations meet their customers’ expectations is an important indication of their success and sustainability, but customer satisfaction is traditionally difficult to benchmark and compare. The COMET Customer Satisfaction Survey does not directly compare overall satisfaction between organisations in different cities, but instead allows operators to understand their relative performance compared to other metros in meeting their own customer expectations in multiple service quality areas. The first Customer Satisfaction Survey took place in the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG) in 2009 and was later introduced into three other benchmarking groups including COMET. An academic paper by Mark Trompet et al describes the CSS methodology in detail.

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.

Research: COVID-19 Update on Recovery

This express study compiled the latest information from 28 metros regarding their ongoing management of and recovery from the pandemic. This study aimed to understand new policies and practices regarding staff vaccination and testing, assess the impact of recent COVID-19 outbreaks on staff availability, update demand, revenue and cost forecasts for 2022 and share new cost reduction and revenue maximisation initiatives. Key findings included:

  • About a third of metros require some or all staff to conduct COVID testing for work, but most metros encourage regular testing using wider government or public health facilities.
  • Vaccine mandates for metro staff are not yet common with three metros reporting them in place. Metro staff typically have higher vaccination rates than the general public, with a few exceptions.
  • Frontline staff availability continues to remain lower than pre-pandemic, with station staff and train drivers particularly affected.
  • Ridership forecasts are generally being revised downwards from previous estimates as the length and severity of the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty.

COMET has been undertaking a number of short, targeted studies and workshops compiling the latest COVID response and recovery at metros. Other examples include Accommodating Returning Demand, Cost Optimisation, Staff Availability, and supporting the wider Transport Strategy Centre’s multimodal benchmarking review of recent activities.

Research: COVID-19 Accommodating Returning Demand

Metro demand has varied dramatically during the course of the pandemic, and is influenced by a wide range of societal and political factors as much as individual passenger behaviour. However, as cities, regions and countries recover from the most immediate impacts of the pandemic, metros are considering how to accommodate a safe and confident regrowth in demand from its lowest level. There are also new opportunities to respond to changing customer travel patterns and preferences, despite the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19. This study brought together information from 33 COMET metros to understand:

  • How metros plan to manage crowding particularly while the spread of COVID-19 is still a concern (including ongoing COVID-19 policies and event management) metros expect that customer attitudes to personal space will change even without formal social distancing requirements. Operational management (i.e. service and staff response in stations, at platforms and trains) will be important as well as supporting customers to choose their travel times.
  • What metros are doing to influence and encourage demand – metros are implementing or considering customer information tools, and fare changes and promotions to attract/reattract/influence customers.
  • Metros’ future service plans – metros are ensuring flexibility is built into service plans to allow for changes in customer demand, for example service frequencies and peak/off-peak adjustments.
Examples of customer information tools developed during the pandemic