Public Transportation in a Systems Perspective A Conceptual Model and an Analytical Framework for Design and Evaluation
Today urban areas are faced with problems like traffic congestion, air pollution, and limited accessibility and transport policy issues are focused on the "sustainable city of the future". For decision-makers the crucial question is how, with limited financial resources, a system for public transportation should be designed and developed to provide attractive travel and transport services. The basic problem is related to the systems design process itself, as the introduction of advanced applications based on new information and communication technologies will require a better understanding of public transportation in a systems perspective.
By combining cognitive systems engineering and transportation systems analysis, relevant elements of control and communication theories (cybernetics) and human factors, a conceptual model and an analytical framework for public (mass passenger) transportation are developed. By use of a means-ends hierarchy of functional levels, the model describes five dynamic processes (the accessibility, travel, transport, traffic, and motion processes) in public transportation. Structural elements of the model (nodes for control functions, information collection and processing, and links for data and information flows) and their characteristics are identified and discussed.
The framework and the model are, for validation purposes, applied in a design task (the realisation of an information centre for travellers and passengers) and in an evaluation task (an exploration and analysis of how incidents and disturbances are handled in Gothenburg). The complexity of public transportation is further explored, and control and data filtering needs on each functional level are identified and related to the potential of future dynamic interaction between actors on different functional levels.
It is finally stated that the systems approach used to develop the model and the framework will become a necessary basis for future new ideas of how to promote the transportation of people by public means and, in that respect, the concept of intermodal passenger transport is critically assessed. The potential of the conceptual model and the analytical framework, to incorporate all possible means of transport (public and private) as well as to apply to the transportation of goods, is also discussed.