BEnchmarking of Energy and EmiSsion Performance in Urban Public TRANSport Operations








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The BESTRANS project

Previous research in this field showed that a huge number of energy saving and emission related good practices in public transport operations exist and that there is a great potential for improvements. However, a systematic approach to energy and emission management and benchmarking is nearly absent and very poor reference values for energy consumption and emissions exist, especially in the bus sector. Thus, an energy and emission benchmarking exercise among European public passenger transport operators is a tool needed to make companies aware of where they are in this field and constitutes a valuable incentive for the whole public transport community to make continuous improvements.

Indeed, benchmarking is an important tool for the continuous improvement in a company. It consists in a process of identifying good practices in other organisations and learning from them. At the same time it is a useful tool to identify the own strengths and weaknesses and allows monitoring the development process in the company by comparing results along time. It is considered as a most valuable tool to gather standards for improvement and insights, which can lead an organisation to better performance.

The BESTRANS project is co-financed by the EC SAVE programme and aims at developing an internal and external benchmarking methodology for energy and emission performance in the urban public passenger transport sector and to carry out a benchmarking exercise with a number of European operators.


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The objectives 

The main objectives of this project are: 

  1. to develop an internal and external benchmarking methodology for energy and emission performance in the urban public passenger transport sector usable all over Europe (including Eastern Europe); 

  2. to involve a great number of public transport operators from different European countries and with different characteristics in the benchmarking exercise; 

  3. to successfully carry out the benchmarking exercise and to start a continuous benchmarking between operators; 

  4. to synthesise the results of the benchmarking exercise into a valuable promotional tool; 

  5. to produce a benchmarking guide.


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The main target group 

The target group directly addressed by this project is the urban public transport (PT) operator community. The latter include public transport operators of all modes (bus, metro, underground) and of different size from the EU and the Accession Countries.


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The participants

The following 4 partners will carry out the BESTRANS project: 3 consulting/research organisations (TISPT from Portugal, ISIS from Italy, and ENVIROS from the UK) and the public transport operator (ATAF) of Florence. TISPT is the project co-ordinator. There are a number of 22 public transport operators.


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The Research

The main activities 

The main activities to be carried out in this project are: 

  1. Definition of a benchmarking methodology and performance assessment 

  2. Carrying out of the benchmarking exercise 

  3. Promotion of energy and emission benchmarking in the whole public transport operator's community, stimulating the organization of future exercises on a permanent basis.


The research work

The research work will be organized in the following interrelated work phases: 

Phase 1 - Definition and testing of the benchmarking methodology 

Phase 2 - Data collection 

Phase 3 - Data analysis and interpretation 

Phase 4 - Guidance for continuous energy and emission improvements 

In addition, the results and outputs of the project will be disseminated and promoted at a larger scale (dissemination - phase 5).


Phase 1 - Definition and testing of the benchmarking methodology 

This phase is organised in the following 6 working tasks. 

Task1 - Overview of energy and emission related studies in the public transport (PT) sector. In order to avoid double work and to take advantage of existing research. These studies will be analysed and useful data and information and data for the benchmarking methodology/exercise will be extracted. 

Task2 - Definition of concepts and terminology.

The different definitions and concepts regarding energy and emission performance will be revised and integrated in order to allow for a Europe wide comparison. 

Task3 - Selection and clustering of participants.

Before carrying out the benchmarking exercise a number of methodological questions have to be solved. Since it will only be possible to benchmark a limited number of companies against each other, a clustering procedure will be necessary. Operators with similar characteristics such as, for instance, operation of the same mode, a similar size, age, and fleet structure, climate, etc. should be grouped together and compared. Though less ambitious, this exercise will highly increase the value of the results. 

Task4 - Definition of indicators.

Whenever a benchmarking exercise is carried out it has to be made sure that only what is comparable will be compared and therefore indicators should contemplate the different dimensions that characterise the companies' energy consumption and emission performance. In this task a limited number of indicators that reflect the energy and emission performance of public transport operators will be identified. These indicators must allow comparing the performance of operators in this field over time and between Member States. For each performance area considered to be critical to success for energy and emission interventions, an indicator (or indicators) will be designed that is suitable to reflect this performance, taking into account the availability of currently accessible data but not being limited by it where the feasibility of obtaining information in the future is considered high. 

Task5 - Development of data collection method and guidelines for data analysis.

In this task the appropriate data collection method and the necessary auxiliary tools (e.g. database, guidelines for the use of the database and the performance assessment) will be developed and a methodology for the data analysis conceived. 

Task6 - Testing of the benchmarking methodology.

Before going to the ground and carrying out a large data gathering exercise it is important that the indicators designed provide the expected information, are suitable, feasible, and the respective data collection does not result too costly. Therefore, the methodology developed in WP1 will be pilot-tested by ATAF.


Phase 2 - Data collection

This phase is organised in the following 2 working tasks. 

Task1 - Preparatory activities.

Preliminary issues such as the final selection of benchmarking sample will be sorted out in this task. Companies will be invited and adjustments to the initial sample according to the guidelines envisaged in the previous work phase may be necessary. Confidentiality of data will be agreed between members of the group, and outside the group will be guaranteed in the most appropriate way. 

Task2 - Data collection.

Carrying out the benchmarking exercise will require each participant to fill in an ad hoc questionnaire. To ensure maximum reliability and efficiency, a dedicated web site for the on line management of the predefined questionnaire(s) can be developed. This will not only allow the user an easy management of the questionnaire itself but will also considerably simplify the subsequent tasks of data consolidation and comparison, reliability and consistency check. The data type to be collected and inserted into the database will depend on the devised indicators, which in turn will be influenced by the general data availability of operators.


Phase 3 - Data analysis and interpretation 

This phase is spit into 3 tasks. 

Task1 - Data analysis.

This task includes an inspection of the collected data in order to detect omissions and inaccuracies and a possible correction or recollection of part of the data. The data will then have to be categorised, coded or tabled. Only then the meaning can be extracted from the collected data via the appropriate statistical analysis and careful interpretation. 

Task2 - Determination of weaknesses and strengths.

The information obtained from each company will be compared chronologically and against the results of the other companies in the same cluster (and, if appropriate, from other clusters). This allows for the identification of shortcomings and strengths in relation to the past and other companies. It also allows to identify 'best practices', which will be studied more in-depths and conclusions drawn. 

Task3 - Synthesis report.

A synthesis report will be produced containing the summary of the results of this work phase. A reduced version of this report that particularly guarantees data confidentiality will be published on the web site.


Phase 4 - Guidance for continuous energy and emission improvements

This phase is divided in 2 tasks. 

Task1 - Indications on the future energy and emission performance and suggestions for an action plan.

On the basis of the results of the previous work phase (see synthesis report) the energy and emission performance of each company will be reviewed by the consortium and suggestions regarding the establishment of functional goals in relation to the future performance and the establishment of an action plan to reach these goals will be given. 

Task2 - Production of a benchmarking guide.

The benchmarking exercise proposed in the BESTRANS project ends here, but general suggestions for continuous monitoring and improvement will be included in the benchmarking guide to be produced in this task. This guide will draw from the activities carried out in the previous tasks and work phase. It will also benefit from the experiences of the benchmarking exercise (failures and success stories) and will be completed with reference values obtained in this process. In order to create a real incentive for companies to dedicate resources and effort to an energy and emission benchmarking exercise, the guide will also provide rough indications on the costs of energy and emission benchmarking and the main advantages and benefits. 

Basically, this guide will lead public transport operators through the process of benchmarking by showing them in a step-by-step procedure how to carry out this exercise. 

The benchmarking guide is expected to open the doors to energy and emission benchmarking for the whole operators' community.


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The results

The main outcomes of the project include: 

  1. Information gained by the participating public transport companies on their energy and emission performance; 

  2. Reduced version (due to data confidentiality reasons) of the synthesis report for publication at the web site; 

  3. Benchmarking guide for publication at the web site and on CD-ROM.


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The Public transport  operators participating in the benchmarking exercise

There are a number of 22 public transport operators  that are co-operating in this benchmarking exercise, e.g.


STCP Porto


Serviços Municipalizados de Aveiro


Stagecoach Manchester


OASA Athens


Société Régionale Wallone des Transports


EMT Madrid


BTC Budapest


Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe (LVB) GmbH


ATAF Florence


RATB Bucharest


London United Busways


Oslo Sporveier


SEMITAG Grenoble (Transdev)


CTP. Spa Naples


The expected input from public transport operators that decide to participate in this benchmarking exercise consist in the provision of energy and environment performance related data, such as: 

  1. General information of the participating operator (area served, population in this area, modes operated, etc.) 

  2. Total vehicle*km and vehicle*km per vehicle category (e.g. diesel buses, electric vehicles) 

  3. Total number of passenger*km and passenger*km per vehicle category 

  4. General information of the fleet, such as total number of vehicles, the disaggregation per vehicle category, the age, and others

  5. Total energy consumption and total energy consumption per vehicle category 

  6. Electricity consumption 

  7. Diesel consumption 

  8. Total emissions and specific types of emission 

  9. Total energy costs. 

The exact data type to be collected will depend on the devised indicators, which in turn will be influenced by the general data availability of operators. 

In exchange they will receive advice and assistance from the consortium in carrying out the data collection. The consortium will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each participating organization and propose functional goals in relation to the future performance. Participating operators will also get access to the data of each other once these are processed. Confidentiality of data will be agreed between members of the group, and outside the group will be guaranteed in the most appropriate way. 

Operators are invited to a first kick-off meeting (Florence 2002) and to a final meeting/seminar (Porto 2003) for the presentation and discussion of the results. 


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The timing

The BESTRANS project started in April 2002 and will terminate in June 2004. The active involvement of public transport operators in the data collection exercise is envisaged from November 2002 until July/August 2003.


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The  Dissemination


The First BESTRANS Newsletter - pdf format

The Second BESTRANS Newsletter - pdf format


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Contact us

Patrick W. van Egmond

Av. 5 de Outubro 75-7º

1050-049 Lisbon


Tel: (+351) 21 359 3020

Fax: (+351) 21 359 3021



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MURE site (ISIS) -




CIVITAS (Cordis) -

Clean urban transport site of DG TREN -

Car free cities -


Energie-Cités -



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Last Update  28-10-2004

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