Accessibility Mobility Transportation

Research Review – Transport Related Social Exclusion

The idea here is to engage in an exploratory analysis assessing the impacts of accessibility to transport systems towards the concept of social exclusion. Social exclusion according to Litman (2003)¹ is defined as follows:

Social exclusion refers to constraints that prevent people from participating adequately in society, including education, employment, public services and activities. Inadequate transport sometimes contributes to social exclusion, particularly for people who live in an automobile dependent community and are physically disabled, low income or unable to own and drive a personal automobile.

Expected results on this line of research include the identification of areas which have been affected by social exclusion in relation to transport, statistical determination of the impact of accessibility as a major factor towards social exclusion, overview of at risk groups towards social exclusion in relation to transport (category approach) , extent of improvement in the social exclusion parameters – possible through the introduction of virtual mobility through the advent of the internet amongst others.

Methodology to be adopted will involve large amounts of data collection – both on trip information (attractions and generations) and demographic data (age, sex, income, educational details of the road users).  Identification of indicators which play a crucial factor in social exclusion (both region specific as well as conventional) and modelling to get the desired results.   

Significance of work on this realm is expectantly high since sustainable development is a buzz word for anything and everything of today’s world. More often, when we go towards sustainability, stress is always on the environmental and economic realms of it, hardly focussing on the social impacts. Particularly in transport, where it is a general feeling that the non performance or deficiency of it ends up playing a very major role in excluding a certain section of the people for no fault of theirs.

Inspiration for this came up when I went on randomly reading some prior research done in the MIT Portugal Program, CTIS Master’s programme by a good friend John Pritchard. His work dealt with the assessment of the role played by accessibility as a major factor in social exclusion. Case Study was Lisbon, Portugal – the data of which were adopted from the SCUSSE project and the surveys conducted in the years 1994 (revised: 2009) among others. _______________________________________________________________________________

1 – Litman 2003. Social Inclusion As A Transport Planning Issue in Canada. Full Report

India Opinion Transportation

Safety on trains cannot wait

I was trying to imagine the ill fate of those 32 who perished in the Tamil Nadu Express fire today morning. What wrong could they have done, to have found themselves on the S11 coach of the train? The scenes of the fire were rather gory, pictures seen across the media houses of the country over the course of this day. Many more have been injured, some miraculously escaped through the skin of their teeth and the rest were not lucky enough to get through this. For a railway network, which focusses on new trains to the home state of the railway minister amongst other states and some other measures, safety could be one of the core issues which might require an urgent look in and addressed in the truest of senses.
This is not an attempt to point fingers at the Railway Ministry or the officials in the Railways or even the government over their usually callous attitude to everything that happens around them. But this incident could have happened in a general compartment next door (since S11 should be presumably next to the general compartment, in a 24 coach train such as the Tamil Nadu Express) instead and it could have been catastrophic. I believe, that at any point in time, there are atleast 150 people, if not less travelling in these general compartments. That is no way a justification that something like this could happen in a sleeper compartment and we be mum over the issue.
I had read a couple of months ago, at the prospect of introducing fire proof coaches in the mails and express trains of the Indian Railways. Tamil Nadu Express, being a priority train for the government (Yes, there are always trains from a state which have higher priorities over the others. For ex: 12623/24 Trivandrum – Chennai Mail has a priority over every other train running in that section) should have been one of the first beneficiaries of this, had the implementation been properly executed on the ground. And maybe, this article may have never even come up here. Railway authorities may point out that the number of accidents have decreased – as they have tried to show here right after the accident, but there still is room for making sure this issue of safety completely foolproof to a very good degree.
Airlines Airports

Unified Terminals and the easyJet Model

Two interesting articles on Airport Business, in my set of reviews for today.

One talking on the emergence of Amsterdam Schiphol as a major force in Europe and on their vision for sustainable growth. Schiphol has been a pioneer of the one – terminal concept – one of the factors, to which they attribute their success over the years gone by. Innovations in ground handling, recognizing the need for making frequent flyer friendly facilities for passport control and realizing the need for the airport to play a vital role in the growth story. What also caught my interest is the response by a certain, Roshan Lal who tries to talk on the present Indian context of the airports scene. Read the full article here.
The second one talks on the success story of the easyJet business model. Contrary to the other low cost airlines, easyJet intends to directly compete with the legacy carriers by focussing its services on the primary airports instead of the secondary and regional terminals situated elsewhere. The model has worked well for the airline which has grown from being a UK centric carrier to have bases on a pan European basis, the latest being in Lisbon. Read the full article here.
As for my research, Schiphol and the easyJet model could be perfect, if only they complied with my requests for an interview and subsequent observations into their respective cases. Low cost airlines need to ensure their sustainability and that will come about only if they serve airports with larger possible capacities – a reason why I believe the easyJet model makes sense than the conventional Southwest to me. Sure, Southwest has been an inspiration for almost any airline to dream of flying low cost, but it needs to be understood that times such as this, call for a rethink and a re-evaluation of strategies.
Airlines Airports Transportation

Master Degree Thesis: The Intitiation

Working TitleExploring the prospect of operating low cost carriers and legacy carriers from the same main airport terminal by interventions on the revenues generated by the airport. 
ProposalThis thesis strives to explore the prospect of operating low cost carriers and the legacy carriers out of the same main airport terminal. In doing so, this thesis also strives to explore a possible correlation of reducing the aeronautical charges for low cost airlines at the main airport terminals by seeing the potential of the airport to cover up those reduced charges by the expected increase in the non aeronautical revenue that the airport stands to gain by this measure.
Literature Review: A large amount of the existing literature on these aspects have been consulted and referred to, on the course of this work. It is believed that while the secondary airports seem to be a solution for the low cost phenomenon, it can be seen only as a solution, which will keep things at bay in the short term (Forsyth., 2007). Many airports which serve the LCCs maybe unable to take any advantage of the economies of scale which are bound to come up with the booming low cost revolution. Local authorities may believe in subsidising as a means to attract more traffic which will stimulate the local economy. But this might not be a stable solution for the secondary airports which may simply use subsidies to finance lower charges to win traffic from main airports with spare capacities, since it will lead to a misallocation of traffic (Forsyth., 2006).
On the argument for low cost carriers using the main airport terminals, it has been observed that there is no statistical difference between a passengers flying by a low cost carrier or one who is flying by a legacy carrier (Manzano, C., 2010). This has been observed in the study involving 7 Spanish airports. The passengers flying low cost have the probability to make a purchase or consume food and beverages before a flight. (Manzano, C., 2010) There is mixed evidence which proves that passengers on low cost carriers are no more ‘budget shoppers’ at airports, particularly because low cost carriers do not have in – flight catering, thus requiring these passengers to make purchases for food and beverages before the flight (Graham., 2009). Further studies on Canadian airline companies Westjet (low cost carrier) and Air Canada (legacy carrier) by McDonald and Gillen (2003) have shown that while a Westjet passenger spends an additional C$6.20 at the airport while an Air Canada passenger spends C$1.22. This has been attributed to the fact that low cost carriers do not provide in – flight meals and thus have higher chances of passengers purchasing Food and Beverages from the airport terminals. Another reason is due to the fact that a major portion of the passengers flying low cost carriers are leisure travellers who are expected to spend more than the passengers flying by legacy carriers, thus increasing the revenues at the airports.
De Neufville (2006) explores further on the aspect of accommodating low cost carriers in main airports – both as a means of describing the problem at hand and a possible solution for the same. According to him, the managers of the main airports have not formed a consensus about how to deal with the rise of the low – cost carriers. Some airports have taken a no compromise decision when it comes to providing cheap facilities while some others have started work in that direction (cheaper landing fees, budget terminals, refurbishment of old terminals etc.). He also describes the inevitability of the situation at hand and expects the main airport managers to show merit to the rising trend, by providing differentiation in the products they offer to the airlines as a possible solution to this problem.
Literature regarding the methodology to be proposed has been studied in detail as well. James (2009) discusses on a framework for developing categories of simulation models related to strategic, operational and tactical problems of an airport terminal. The airport terminal under the study was the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) situated in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The simulation software used was Extend (of Imagine That Inc.). Brunetta and Jacur (2001) conduct a similar study by creating a new flexible simulation model adaptable to the various airport configurations for determining the capacity and delay experienced at airport terminals. The validation of this model, called AIRLAB has been conducted by comparison with similar research on the Milan Malpensa Airport, Italy.  
Methodology: The methodology being proposed for the current work shall involve interviews being carried out of the experts in the field of aviation – possible both academia and industry. Main actors in this process would be the airport managers of airports across Portugal and the rest of the continent on the basis of availability of information and the willingness of the professionals in sharing the information for the purpose of this study. Economic Models shall have to be resorted to, to determine the expected change in revenue from Non Aeronautical revenue by operating the low cost carriers out of the main airport terminal instead of the existing low cost terminal or the secondary airport.
A word of thanks already for Prof Juergen Muller of the German Aviation Performance (GAP) Project (Berlin School of Economics and Law) for being kind enough to mail his work for reference and possible inspiration on this regard. 
Accessibility Transportation

BRT Transmilenio : Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, the capital of Colombia is home to the pioneer of Bus Rapid Transit with the BRT Transmilenio. Handling about 1000 buses in the peak hour with real time dynamic scheduling, average speeds in the range of 28-40 kmph, a whole lot of innovative inter-modal transportation features. And that is not it. Watch the video to know how Transmilenio has changed the realms of Mass Transit in Latin America and possibly the world.