Research: Understanding and Using Service Performance Data

Service performance measurements are crucial for understanding how metro services are running, so obtaining and leveraging accurate data in the form of useful metrics is key to improving performance. This research project aimed to understand what metrics metros are using to manage their service performance, including their precise definitions, and what methods they use to obtain the required data.

Five categories of service performance measurements help to answer the most important management questions about service performance. A comprehensive system of KPIs needs to comprise a balanced set of service performance measurements covering all five categories.

What do metro managers need to know?
What do metro managers need to know?

There is a need to measure both the actual delay to train service and the impacts of train delays on customers. Too much emphasis on the measurement of train service production and train service performance can be at the expense of other elements of service quality and the actual customer experience. One achievable approach is to use headway-based measurements, which reflect the waiting time for customers on platforms. Another is to weight delay measurements by the number of customers on the train at the time.

There is a clear trend towards more customer-focused measures, which are more difficult to measure but better reflect the actual customer experience. This trend is being driven primarily by technology, such as modern signalling/train control systems and smartcards (i.e. tap-in / tap-out systems). These new data sources are making it easier for metros to collect the data required for more customer-focused metrics.

Trends in service performance data collection, management and analysis
Trends in service performance data collection, management and analysis

Research: Planning for Major Events

Public transport is essential to the success and feasibility of major events, and most major cities with metros are likely to host at least one large-scale event over a 15-year horizon. A 2014 Nova case study captured members’ experience with hosting a wide range of events and covered the entire timeline of hosting a major event, as illustrated below.

Metro Timeline for Hosting a Major Event – from upfront activities to lessons learned
Metro Timeline for Hosting a Major Event – from upfront activities to lessons learned

The study found that early and active involvement in major event planning – which can include major capital projects – is very beneficial for metros, as is conducting their own demand forecasting. The long lead-time for most major events also allows for metros to learn from each other and visit metros hosting the same or similar events. Despite the short-term nature of most major events, metros gain the most value from retaining longer-term improvements, whether transformational or incremental.

The study demonstrated that while major events can present challenges to metros, many metros are using them successfully as opportunities to showcase their existing good practices, experiment with new ones, identify needs, and leverage funding.

Research: Incident Response & Recovery: Phase 2 Study and Workshop

Following the success of the CoMET 2011 case study on Improving Incident Response and Recovery, a drill-down study was proposed to understand some of the best practices identified in more detail. The drill-down study added to the detailed incident data collected in Phase 1 and completed a more disaggregated analysis of the data, looking at detailed causes and the durations associated with incidents of different causes. An area of particular interest to the case study sponsors was the organisation of incident management, and here the ‘strategic-tactical-operational’ (gold-silver-bronze) structure adopted in two European metros was recommended. The sponsoring metro has since contacted these metros to learn more about this structure.

A crucial part of this Phase 2 study was a workshop, bringing together incident response experts from ten CoMET and Nova metros, as well as two members of CoMET and Nova’s sister benchmarking group for suburban railways, ISBeRG. This workshop resulted in the development of 14 ‘golden rules’ for incident response and recovery, which provide clear and concise guidance to metros and have since been adopted by a European metro. Similarly, an American metro is implementing best practices from the case study in resource distribution, infrastructure maintenance, and emergency response. A key recommendation arising from the workshop was the use of ‘hot debriefs’ to ask staff how the management of an incident could have been improved, immediately after the event; this good practice has since been taken on by a European metro.