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Of the 4 projects examined by KiM, RandstadRail Rotterdam attracts more passengers than predicted and RandstadRail Haaglanden slightly fewer.

4 large urban public transport projects have not systematically attracted more or fewer travelers than previously estimated. This has emerged from a KiM study in which earlier passenger forecasts from RandstadRail Rotterdam, Haaglanden, the North-South Line and HOV2 Eindhoven were compared with actual passenger numbers. The image changes between projects. Many lessons from the comparison have already been drawn. Lessons that still apply today are: do not underestimate the complexity of projects in advance and make the main objectives of projects so concrete that they can be evaluated. 

Of the 4 projects examined by KiM, RandstadRail Rotterdam attracts more passengers than predicted and RandstadRail Haaglanden slightly fewer. The passenger numbers for the Amsterdam North-South line were initially greatly overestimated, but later forecasts appear realistic. According to the municipality of Eindhoven, the growth forecast for HOV2 Eindhoven was conservative, but nevertheless does not seem to be exceeded.

Large differences between predicted and actual numbers may indicate that the success of projects in terms of passenger numbers is not properly estimated in advance. It is relevant to learn from this, because major investments in improved public transport connections are foreseen in the coming years and passenger forecasts are being made for this. Many of the lessons from the comparison of the 4 public transport projects have already been taken to heart between 2000 and 2020. For example, transport models have been improved and the uncertainty of forecasts is mapped out with fixed environmental scenarios.

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4 large urban public transport projects have not systematically attracted more or fewer travelers than previously estimated.

Success is more than just passenger numbers

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Some lessons are still relevant. For example, the complexity of all 4 projects studied was underestimated in advance, so that later adjustments (for example fewer trains per hour) were necessary to make them feasible. The researchers also point out that the success of projects was measured almost exclusively by passenger numbers, while objectives were aimed at a shift from car to public transport or better use of space. For future projects, it is desirable that these types of objectives are also quantified and examined in forecasts and ex post evaluations.

The way people travel is now changing faster than 20 years ago, especially in the cities where public transport plays an essential role. Other factors, including bicycle friendliness and strict parking policy, seem to have an underestimated influence on public transport use. Sufficient public transport capacity and quality attract new travellers, but above all a precondition for being able to transport additional travellers. Explorations with policy-rich scenarios are desirable in the forecasts to take this into account.

There is no standard for ex-post research

Ex-post analyzes contribute to a learning culture if they are given a permanent place in the policy cycle. With an ex-post analysis, the realized effects of implemented projects are examined and compared with the original forecasts and objectives. Despite considerable efforts, during the research it turned out that only 4 of the 11 pre-selected Dutch projects had enough data to make a comparison, according to the KiM.

"If we do not want to say again in 20 years' time that an ex-post study is not really possible, then such analyzes for current projects must already be prepared now, with good archiving and evaluation plans".

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