Several schemes still use the results of surveys to drive the revenue distributions between operators. In most cases, this data is not scrutinised despite the significant impact it can have on the calculations.
We have undertaken one-off reviews of survey data in the past, with some alarming results. In one scheme area, we selected 18 surveyed journeys and compared these to operators’ ETM data – we were unable to agree any of the journeys. Given the ETM contained cash payments, which were ultimately reconciled to drivers’ takings, and journeys recorded via smartcards, this suggested the survey data was inaccurate.
The scaling method utilised in several surveys can also lead to spurious results. For instance, we have seen a surveyed journey, after scaling was applied, with 999 passengers on board – it must have been cramped on that bus! We have also seen the results of just 3 interviews, on one journey, represent 2.6% of the total scheme market share.
Operators often have concerns over the accuracy of surveys. A regular audit of these records will help to identify those surveyors that are failing to capture accurate data and to establish any post-survey scaling/adjustment errors. In the longer term, the scheme stakeholders should look to use electronic data, with a supporting audit trail.