Managing security – and perception of security – is a growing challenge for many metro operators. In North America and Europe where crime and disorder is a significant concern for metros, perception of security in public spaces has been influenced by wider quality-of-life issues that pre-dated COVID-19 related to homelessness, drug and alcohol use and mental health. The pandemic also raised new challenges of staff unavailability and lower ridership which reduced the presence of ‘active bystanders’ on metro networks.
As such, the study aims to understand changes in crime and anti-social behaviour since the pandemic began, and to share initiatives implemented by metros to reduce incident rates and to improve customer perceptions of personal safety. This report contains data compiled from twenty-seven COMET members, including an in-depth interview with the Deputy Chief of Police at San Francisco BART. It reviews factors impacting crime in metros, key barriers to improving security, incident rates during pandemic, as well as opportunities and actions to combat crime and disorder.
Signage is designed to convey information primarily to assist passengers with decision-making, therefore factors such as clarity, visibility, safety, accessibility, applicability and style are important elements to take into account in signage design. Good signage communicates with passengers effectively by using clear messages, appropriate shape and size, recognisable symbols and infographics, legible typefaces/fonts and clearly contrasting colours.
The study gathers information from 28 CoMET and Nova metros and looks into their guidelines for signage design, as well as good examples that have been implemented by metros. These examples are presented by exploring six key objectives: signage for clarity, signage for branding and identity, signage for safety and security, signage for wayfinding and navigation, signage for accessibility, and signage to encourage good behaviour. The enhancements carried out by metros to improve clarity, visibility and legibility of signage are also discussed in the report. Currently, metros are exploring various approaches to complement their static signage with new types of dynamic information to encourage greater passenger awareness and decision-making. This includes dynamic information for crowd control, passenger flow, and incident response, leading to an increasing use of digital signage, and other mobile applications.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Imperial College London on the 21st October. As a result of a collaboration between the RTSC, Shanghai Metro, and the Data Science Institute (DSI) of Imperial, the Presidential visit included a presentation on the analysis of smartcard data for the Shanghai Metro network.
Our main research objective was to improve our understanding of demand patterns captured in smartcard data. We visualised passenger flows entering and exiting Shanghai metro stations using the extraordinary visualisation capabilities of the KPMG Data Observatory of DSI. The Data Observatory is the largest of its kind in Europe, featuring an enveloping circular wall of 64 monitors powered by 32 computers facilitating 313 degrees of surround vision.
In the second part of the presentation we visualised a simulation scenario for a hypothetical train service disruption. This allowed us to predict how temporary demand shocks would spread through other parts of the network. Studying disruption scenarios enables operators to prepare for unexpected events and improve the resilience of urban rail networks.
The Presidential visit proved to be an excellent opportunity to showcase the RTSC’s recently developed competences in big data analysis, and the potential of smart card data in cutting edge public transport research.
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.
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.
Modern technology offers significant opportunities to improve station operations and the customer experience. At the same time this new technology is changing the nature of communications between staff and passengers.
This study found six key trends in terms of station staff organisation and management across the Community of Metros:
There is significant opportunity for many CoMET and Nova metros to rapidly and relatively cheaply improve customer information and assistance using remote and mobile technology.
Remote monitoring of safety-critical systems (i.e. watching an escalator on CCTV) is currently preferred to remotely controlling the system (i.e. turning an escalator on or off), even when that capability exists.
Some metros are beginning to use mobile applications to support staff operations, such as allowing staff to monitor and control CCTV, make public address announcements, or look up asset information from electronic manuals.
The application of mobile devices in station asset management currently focuses around inspections rather than more direct forms of asset control.
Metros are not creating overarching policies for the deployment of mobile technology, but instead choosing to focus on the end objective of improving customer experience and business productivity with whatever technology facilitates the task.
There is significant variation across the group in terms of hardware, software and practical use of devices.
We also identified five key trends in terms of station staff organisation and management across the Community of Metros:
Supported by electronic ticketing and self-service technology, ticketing staff roles are evolving to focus on broader customer assistance and increased visibility around stations.
There is increasing use of multi-functional staff across the Community of Metros, as well as an increase in their capabilities and responsibilities.
Metros are deploying increasing numbers of roaming staff, across a range of station operations.
Metros are dividing their network into a higher number of station control zones that each contain fewer stations, with benefits for local knowledge, staff camaraderie and teamwork.
Metros increasingly have one staff member per group performing a single coordinating role, responsible for both customer services and assets across a small group of stations.
For most metros, a steadily growing passenger demand and revenue is important for future sustainability. This 2014 Nova case study captured good practice initiatives that members have implemented in their metros to increase the revenue they receive. This study also looked at how the regulatory and political environment affects a metro’s ability to implement these strategies and what methods were being used to measure and forecast demand.
Several of the factors that influence metro demand and revenue are to some extent within a metro’s influence, such as the quality of service, the provision of amenities within stations, and price. However, external factors tend to have the largest impact on demand and there is little metros can do to influence these, at least in the short to medium term.
Members stated that fares policy, service frequency and capacity, infrastructure enhancements, and integration with other transport had the greatest impact on their demand and revenue. Yet, they also appear to be the factors that metro operators have the least control over. We argue that in the longer term, these factors can be strongly influenced by metros but clear and proactive engagement with all city actors such as the Transport Authority or Government is required.
Good practice metros undertake a detailed analysis of their market segments to understand both existing and potential customers. Separating out different customer segments and journey stages may enable operators to exploit previously un-tapped or poorly captured markets. Metro operators should conduct proper advance business case analysis to understand the overall expected revenue impacts and associated costs of proposed demand growth initiatives. Even if forecasting or modelling demand and revenue is done by the transport authority, metros can always benefit from having their own models. This enables metros to make a stronger case to the transport authority about the effects of a particular action.
The most effective strategies implemented by metros included:
Bus feeder and bus integration systems which complement metro services and improve access to the metro;
Short extensions, infill stations and station upgrades that provide strategic opportunities to improve access to new markets,
Increasing off-peak service provision (evening, weekend and inter-peak) at low marginal cost to open the metro up to new or underutilised markets;
Targeted fares products to encourage off-peak travel and fill underutilised capacity; and
Integrated ticketing platforms and joint promotion that attracts alternative markets.
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.
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.
Passenger communications have undergone a revolution in the last decade, with more channels allowing passengers and the metro to pass information to one another, and amongst themselves as illustrated in the figure below. A CoMET 2013 case study explored the rapidly changing face of metro-passenger communications, and highlighted how technological developments are altering the nature of the relationship between metros and their passengers.
The study identified successful methods for delivering non-travel information, increasing passenger engagement and identifying opportunities for the future. Selected good practices were identified based on the best examples within CoMET of:
influencing passenger behaviour (including the use of the British Government’s MINDSPACE principles)
creating website journey planners and
responding to comments and questions on social media.
The work demonstrated how best practice metros are taking advantage of burgeoning opportunities to open up their operations and organisations, communicating with passengers more widely and building better relationships than ever before.
Moscow Metro has recently completed trial operation of devices that prevent jumping over turnstiles. The devices are inexpensive triangular steel structures installed on top of the turnstile, which prevent fare evaders jumping over the turnstiles by leaning on the turnstile’s cover with their hands.
According to observations of metro workers since the trial began in Tsaritsyno station, incidents of jumping over the turnstiles has dramatically reduced, and revenues from the sale of tickets at cashier office had increased. If the full analysis shows positive results, these devices will be installed in other busy metro stations.