Posted in January 2015

Light rail implementation: success and failure aspects of Dutch light rail projects

Light rail has been successfully implemented in many urban regions worldwide. Although light rail has been a proven transport concept in many cities, there is much debate on the (societal) cost-benefit ratio of these systems. In addition to the success stories, several light rail projects were not that successful or even failed. In recent years, many light rail plans have been cancelled in The Netherlands, some after many years of planning and some even after the start of the tendering process or during trial operation. We want to know why this happened, so we will be able to support future design and decision making. This paper describes our research aiming at the answer to the question: what are the success and failure factors of light rail planning based on the Dutch experiences? This research has been performed as a survey, in which we investigated five projects, being light rail projects in the Netherlands (and one reference project in France) that either succeeded or failed in different project stages. The main conclusion is that several, multidisciplinary factors make a success or failure out of a light rail project. Projects do not fail just because a lack of funding, small political support or technical obstacles only. Rather than that, a combination of factors causes projects to fail. Subsequently, projects will only be successful if they are based on more than one success factor. Just a high potential ridership or political support is for instance not enough to guarantee a project to succeed.

Read the paper: TRB2015

Short term ridership prediction in public transport by processing smart card data

Public transport operators are exposed to massive data collection from their smart card systems. In the Netherlands, every passenger needs to check in and to check out, resulting in detailed information on the demand pattern. In buses and trams, checking in and checking out takes place in the vehicle, providing good information on route choice. This paper explores options for using this smart card data for analysis and performing what-if analyses by using transport planning software. This new generation of transport demand models, based on big data, is an addition to the existing range of transport demand models and approaches. The intention is to provide public transport operators with a simple (easy to build) model to perform these what-if analyses. The data is converted to passengers per line and an OD-matrix between stops. This matrix is assigned to the network to reproduce the measured passenger flows. After this step, what-if analysis becomes possible. With fixed demand, line changes can be investigated. With the introduction of an elastic demand model, changes in level of service realistically affect passenger numbers. This method was applied on a case study in The Hague. We imported the smart card data into a transport model and connected the data with the network. The tool turned out to be very valuable for the operator to gain insights into the effect of small changes.

Read the paper: TRB 2015

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