Today, the agencies in charge of infrastructure normally have such a central place in the planning and granting processes that Ruter and others responsible for public transport a bit too often are reduced to «interested parties», even when the purpose is better public transport. Such models do not ensure optimal solutions or a clear relationship between utility and cost. New and better infrastructure must be prioritised based on the service that those who are in charge of operations can and will implement based on their market responsibilities. This entails, for example, that Ruter’s recommended prioritisations should be presented to the political bodies that take decisions on infrastructure development both at regional and national level.
Resources must be used so that the goal of an attractive, seamless mobility is reached. This requires changes to the organisation and subsidy regime. The responsibility of the administration companies must follow natural market areas in the region, across traditions built on modes of transport and county boundaries. At the same time, the subsidy regime for investments in public transport infrastructure must be based on a customer and market-oriented service.
Customers’ travel patterns do not align with administrative boundaries, and functional market areas often cross county boundaries. This is certainly true for the capital region, where travellers can reach seven counties in Eastern Norway within one hour by train, bus or car from the city centre of Oslo. Local trains around Oslo serve six counties, and at the same time, customers use the train in combination with buses and other modes of transport.
A division of responsibility based on modes of transport is a poor response to customers’ needs for seamless journeys, whether in terms of schedules, information, tickets or fares. The train’s share of journeys by public transport nationally is about ten per cent. In Ruter’s traffic area (Oslo and Akershus), the share is eleven per cent. Customers in Ruter’s traffic area travel five times more frequently with a combination of train and other modes of public transport than with a combination of train and train.
The need for increased capacity and the optimisation of the division of roles between modes of transport suggests that the train’s share of public transport will increase in the years ahead. Nevertheless, the metro, bus and tram will have the largest market shares in the region in future as well, and together with cycling and walking, these modes of transport will require significant attention if we are to reach our growth targets. The instruments the state uses in its transport policies should be based on this recognition.
In June 2015, the Storting adopted a railway sector reform. The management and tendering of train traffic, organised by a state agency whose core tasks are infrastructure and materials management, can easily weaken rather than strengthen the coordination in the direction of seamless travel that customers want and should be entitled to. Operators in competitive markets will be market and customer-focused within their market segment, but this has a limited impact on customers unless transport services and information and ticketing are linked across modes of transport and tenders/contracts. More work should be done on these issues in the final design of a new organisation.
The division of roles between national and local authorities should be organised so that optimal societal solutions are facilitated to ensure that customers are offered a seamless system. Among other things, this means that local/regional train traffic, and thus the significant volume of journeys by train, is added to or coordinated with the general regional responsibilities. In the central areas of Eastern Norway, Ruter can assume an expanded role and ensure that public transport services is coordinated based on a market potential and between all modes of public transport. Technical coordination of train traffic, including national and international considerations, is performed by the new Jernbanedirektoratet (railway administration).
The national transport plans that have been presented and that are being prepared are in reality state transport plans, although local situations are also discussed. The substantive links that must be drawn to reach the national transport policy goals are significantly stronger between, for instance, railway administration and regional public transport (including Ruter) than between Avinor and the railway administration. A truly national transport plan must, among other things, ensure that our society develops a mobility service that combined meets future needs. This may require a reorganisation of areas of responsibility and/or planning across administrative levels.
To ensure efficient utilisation of societal resources, capacity development must be considered across modes of transport and in relation to political goals regarding business development, urban development, transport development and the environment. A national policy based on societal developments and real market and customer needs must be developed as a basis for decision-making.
Today, Ruter is ahead of the curve in areas such as mobile tickets and bus technology. Ruter wants to be at the forefront in the future as well with regard to use of commercially available technology. Ruter wants to try to influence the industry to ensure that technological developments for application in public transport are customer-driven. Traditionally, industrial motivations and byproducts from the car industry or military industries have, to a too large degree, determined what technologies have been available. This requires a broad collaboration within the public transport industry, nationally and globally. Ruter will therefore continue to focus on further developing Norwegian, Nordic and European public transport collaborations in a customer-oriented direction, so that we together establish a sufficiently interesting demand for technical solutions based on the premises set by public transport customers. For these to be of practical use in Ruter’s future service development, new organisational and collaboration models may be required that do not exist today but that Ruter is open to.
In order for Ruter to maintain and develop the desired ability to deliver, and thus effectively contribute to the City of Oslo and Akershus county administration reaching their public transport goals, it is crucial that the governance model is practised in a way that respects the division of roles and responsibilities that the shareholder agreement stipulates.
As long as the local administrative boundaries are such that a functional administration company in the capital region must have two or more owners, there will be issues where the intersection between policies and implementation is complicated. In part, measures of a cross-regional character will have to be better documented than the administrative boundaries normally allow for, and in part there will be a lack of formal political decision-making bodies.
Ruter’s service development has had good customer and market response, which has piqued international interest.
To continue to succeed in delivering results in line with the goals the City of Oslo and Akershus county administration have stipulated and will stipulate, it is crucial that Ruter continues to have a room of manoeuvre adapted to the necessary coordination and customer-orientation of public transport services.
The room of manoeuvre is defined through the City of Oslo and the Akershus county administrations’ overarching plans and strategies. Targeted governance can also be most effectively achieved through strategies, such as Oslo’s municipal plan, the transport plan for Akershus, and through the consideration of strategic documents prepared by Ruter – of which M2016 is an example.