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Putting the Beetlicim Formula into practice

12th July 1974, Page 21
12th July 1974
Page 21
Page 21, 12th July 1974 — Putting the Beetlicim Formula into practice
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

REVIEW of the working f the National Bus Cornany's Beetham Formula for 3sting bus services was iven this week by its author, 1r A. Beetham, NBC's roup executive for tanning. He was speaking t a seminar on public transort operations research eld at the University of eeds on Wednesday, 'hursday and Friday of this tek.

Mr Beetham said that the )rmula, which had been eveloped in conjunction ith the University of Manaester's Institute of Science nd Technology, had been volved against a changing ackground for public transort. The most important ictor in this change was )cal government reform. He emphasized that the ystem was based on a full !location of costs and was ot a purely short-term, targinal exercise. This was ecessary because it was isential to be able to calcuite a reasonable contribuon for each route towards xed costs.

!ouncils need help

This was the essential !ason for the formula — to ltribute to routes or groups I routes proper cost figures ir alternative levels of ;rvice which might be rovided. Both local uthorities and operators eeded this information, sid Mr Beetham.

Local authorities needed elp in this way in order to ach decisions on transport. lanning on a comrehensive basis.

The operational costing ystem was likely to be rt her refined by the pplication of computer hedules but the present )rmula should work efficintly, for this year.

The subject of computer theduling for both buses and crews was raised by Mr A. Wren, senior lecturer in charge of the Operational Research Unit. After reviewing the development of various programs, including VAMPIRES (Vehicle And Mileage Pruning In Running Essential Services), Mr Wren said that a version of these programs had been handed over to International Computers Ltd and Midland Red. Two further undertakings, Cleveland Transit and the Leeds District of the West Yorkshire PTE, were also now considering using the programs.

Mr Wren said that he was hoping for contacts from other undertakings who would be interested in trying such programs. The use of computers in routeing buses was well justified, especially where public transport networks were not being considered in isolation from other transport decisions. This was said by Mr Keith Orford of the West Midlands PTE, speaking from his experience of the bus routeing project in Coventry. The use of mathematical models offered "the ability to examine rationally and objectively the interaction of a wide range of factors that would normally be outside the scope of routine assessment".

Mr Orford maintained that the rapid comparison of alternative networks in social and cost terms had made "a notable contribution" to decision making. The Coventry project had paved the way for the future and the main task now was to see how the next era — what Mr Orford called the "production models" — were going to be run.

The workings of another bus network model, this time in Huddersfield, were described by Mr A. J. Daly and Mr A. Last, both of the ORU. They revealed that much of the work there was based on the findings of the Coventry study. They said that in Huddersfield the mathematical model itself had been able to be improved. It had also proved possible to more adequately set the bus network in the context of the alternative transport modes available to the user.

Human understanding

The development of yet another bus study, in Bradford, was described by Mr B. M. M. Barrett, assistant study director of the Bradford project. He concluded that the provision of bus services was going to change rapidly from the present "seat-of-the-pants" improvization and more towards reliance on scientific techniques. However, he urged that the cold scientific approach should be tempered by some human understanding otherwise great problems might arise.

A comprehensive analysis of the workings of the Bitterne Traffic Scheme in Southampton was provided by Mr W. S. Lewis, general manager of the city's transport undertaking. He related the peculiar problems of the city caused by its geographical situation and said that the scheme had been aimed at improving the flow of buses into the city from the east during the morning peak. By use of bus access roads and co-ordinated traffic signals, 70 buses during the peak hour were given priority to get on to the main road ahead of the 2,900 other vehicles.

Public reaction to the scheme before it was introduced was intensely hostile and it went ahead only after a public inquiry. Originally, the cost had been estimated at £100,000 — but it finally worked out at about £169,000. A major publicity campaign involving the distribution of 16,000 leaflets was mounted immediately before the scheme was introduced.

Bus priority

Following a before-andafter study by Southampton University it was clear that there had been saving in bus-journey times with little or no alteration of those with private cars. Bus-journey savings of up to 10 minutes had been recorded but the average was about 31h minutes, well over 10 per cent of the average journey time.

When the scheme was first introduced a 3 per cent increase in passenger traffic was noted but this had since been eroded, probably because motorists had realized that car-journey times had not in fact increased.

A guide to how local government and bus operators could co-operate under the Local Government Act was provided by Mr B. R. King, traffic manager of West Riding Automobile. He gave the following list of the ways of providing an efficient and effective public. transport service: close cooperation to provide an efficient service at an economic rate and thus reverse the trend of high expenditure and environmental difficulties associated with unconstrained personal transport; improvement in reliability, accessibility and overall journey times; constraints on the private car; encouragement of staggered working and school hours; financial assistance where fares were insufficient to meet the costs of operation; and the involvement of operators in land use and local planning.

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