Public consultation and evaluation method of big changes on the surface public transport network.
A new metro line was built in Budapest between 2006 and 2014. After opening the new M4 line, the surface transportation network had to undergo major changes in order to reduce double capacities and to save on running cost of the public transport system. Transport experts created a dynamic online map that let users review the old and new routes of the selected transport lines in the same time. The online map was then published on the website of the BKK Centre for Budapest Transport in order to gain public opinion on the planned changes. People were very active in the consultation process; BKK had reviewed the feedback contribution of several thousands of users, which arrived during the public consultation process as well in the first phase as in the second phase. The suggestions were made electronically via e-mail or on the website’s response panel. Municipalities were informed by mail in advance and personal discussions took place in the two most important municipalities affected by the changes, as well as some NGOs. In addition to future customers, changes were also introduced in the committee responsible for transportation of the Municipality of the City of Budapest, where all district mayors were invited to express their views during the consultation process.
The entire public consultation process was implemented using internal human resources, with employees in their regular scope of activities. Programing, content generating and data processing embraced several thousand man-hours.
Evidence of success
Similar large-scale changes in the public transport system were not consulted in the wide public this way before. People were very active in the consultation process, in the first phase more than 7000, in the second more than 4000 remarks or suggestions were made. 18 % agreed on the proposed changes, 56 % proposed alternatives, while 26 % had other remarks. All the remarks were processed, proposals with large public support were accepted, others with high costs or other reasons were rejected.
Public consultation is not a representative survey, consequently the number of reactions on a topic do not reflect its real weight.
As the practice enjoys wide public support, it is worth considering more open-ended questions to ensure customers’ definition role.
Potential for learning or transfer
Starting on 29 March 2014 in connection with the inauguration of M4, the City of Budapest and BKK implemented one of the largest surface traffic network reorganizations in recent decades, directly affecting hundreds of thousands of daily regular travel patterns in and around Budapest. This change in surface transport was effected in two phases: one directly after opening the metro line and another two years later, as transport habits changed from bus towards metro. Both projects were thoroughly put up for public consultation. Passengers in these areas experienced a high level of schedule changes on several bus, tram and trolleybus lines. Similar large-scale changes to the public transport system had not been proposed for public consultation before. The participatory process has proven to be very successful, thus it makes sense to implement it in other areas with similar scale networks or changes, where the construction of metro lines or other major transportation projects are planned.
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