Stakeholder consultation

The co-existence of different transport stakeholders at interchanges and the necessity to make each of those systems interoperable with the others requires a coordinated approach through the cooperation of interchange stakeholders, the form of which can vary (institutional cooperation through conventions / informal cooperation). It takes place in different forms, depending on the stage of the interchange development (design, construction, operation, management). For example, a genuine dialogue between decision-makers and stakeholders takes place with the objective of influencing decisions, policies or programmes of action. This is aimed at verifying the utility of a project, measuring the potential impacts on the environment, and informing the public. Consultation with end-users is important for making the interchange user-friendly and to attract new users.

The stakeholder consultation process can take place either as one-on-one meetings or as multi-stakeholder consultation.

The one-on-one process has the advantage of gaining an in-depth view of the opinions and ideas of the target stakeholder through real dialogue. The multi-stakeholder consultation is mostly beneficial because the opportunity of listening to a variety of opinions can result in new and creative ideas and solutions. It is also beneficial because it can result in a mutual agreement or compromise. It may bridge differences and build consensus, while enabling an exchange of knowledge among stakeholders. It is important to keep the stakeholders involved informed about how their contribution, i.e. their views, concerns and suggestions, have been taken into consideration during implementation of the project. The engagement of stakeholders in consultation is becoming increasingly recognised as an important part of any decision-making process, including processes related to transport projects. When public transport projects are discussed, one key stakeholder group to involve are the Passenger Associations and Passenger Advisory Boards.

According to the CIVITAS handbook “Involving Stakeholders: Toolkit on organising successful consultations” there are many ways in which decision-makers and practitioners can benefit from this tool, because: – it improves the quality of decision-making, since those with a vested interest contribute from the initial stages; – it identifies controversial issues and difficulties before a decision is made; – it brings together different stakeholders with different opinions, enabling an agreement to be reached together and preventing opposition at a later stage, which can slow down the decision-making process; – it eliminates delays and reduces costs in the implementation phase; – it gives stakeholders a better understanding of the objectives of decisions and the issues surrounding them; – it creates a sense of ownership of decisions and measures, thus improving their acceptance; – it renders the decision-making process more democratic, giving citizens and local communities the power to influence decisions and, as a result, a greater sense of responsibility; – it builds local capacity; – it enhances public confidence in decision-makers; and – it creates opportunities for stakeholders and decision-makers to learn from each other by exchanging information and experiences.


NODES strategic objectiveContribution
Enhance accessibility and integration ++
Enhance intermodality ++
Enhance liveability +
Increase safety and security conditions ++
Increase economic viability and costs efficiency +
Stimulate local economy ++
Increase environmental efficiency +
Increase energy efficiency +

Good practice

Community involvement in the UK

The UK has a tradition in community involvement at small stations, a concept that has been developed to a professional stage. Experience shows that involving the community does not happen nor is it maintained automatically. However, involvement of the local community can have many benefits. It can increase the mobility of the community and implement the social inclusion of unemployed persons and volunteers. It can decrease the anonymous, impersonal atmosphere of a station and achieve better security around stations. Renting out abandoned station buildings to a supportive third party, such as a café, office space, art gallery or learning centre, will create livelihood, extra traffic and presence of the right people. If well introduced, it is proven that community involvement contributes positively to the performance of UK stations. This enhances valuable partnerships between Network Rail, train-operating companies, local authorities and volunteer groups, which in turn leads to a noticeable upward spiral in the overall station experience.

 

Passenger Advisory Boards

When public transport projects are discussed, Passenger Associations and Passenger Advisory Boards constitute one key stakeholder group to involve in the process. Enabling passengers to become involved and express their opinions, concerns and needs will assist the decision-making process towards choices that will be beneficial for the end-user, i.e. the passenger.  Passenger Advisory Boards can, ideally, be involved at all stages of the project’s lifecycle, i.e. planning, implementation and evaluation. However, the involvement of end-users (passengers in this case) in the process is not always easy; it sometimes leads to endless discussions. Hence it is often argued that, despite the clear benefits, it is not necessary to involve passengers in every process or in every phase of the process.

 

EU Interreg IVB project “Citizens’ Rail”

The EU Citizens’ Rail project has produced a toolkit of case studies and advice about how to engage residents and businesses with their local and regional railways. By working with schools, universities, volunteers, the tourism sector and others the toolkit shows how you can create more welcoming stations and build new audiences for rail travel. The project has also created an online network dedicated to the same theme, with close to 100 members already sharing best practice and expertise.

 

Application in NODES test sites – “Workshop and local stakeholders meeting” organised by ThePTA in order to present the NODES project and exchange opinions regarding the MIKRA interchange

The event took place on 2 December 2013 at the Chilis Street Theatre in Kalamaria, Thessaloniki, Greece. It was organised by the Public Transport Authority of Thessaloniki. The invited audience included a range of Local Stakeholders (Mayors, Prefecture representatives, PTO representatives, Academics, Professionals, the Passengers’ Association, Residents, local retailers, etc.). A total of 63 participants took part in the process. The workshop started with brief presentations of the NODES project, its objectives and the concept of the NODES toolbox. The focus was then placed on the MIKRA interchange, its selection as one of the NODES reference sites and its importance for the local community. After the brief presentations, the participants were encouraged to engage in an open discussion in order to express their concerns and opinions about the opportunities arising from the development of the MIKRA interchange for the local community and to share their views on how to best utilise these opportunities.

The process of Stakeholder consultation and the involvement of Passenger Associations in the process when public transport projects are discussed can be very beneficial for all of the parties involved. The workshop and the open discussion that was organised by ThePTA resulted to a set of comments and suggestions that were brought to further discussion with the project developer, ATTIKO METRO. The company is very keen to incorporate the user needs in the interchange plans and its representatives are in discussion with ThePTA for a more detailed study that will involve in-depth consultation and surveys in order to decide which is the best operational model for MIKRA.

 

Focus groups (Tisséo)

Structured focus groups enable an analysis of qualitative data and perceptions of main groups of users and stakeholders. The initial groups that are identified are: residents in the local surroundings, business and retailers in the catchments area and attraction centres in the area. There are two stages in which focus group research can be used: – Early stages of the development, in order to better know needs, perception and barriers and difficulties in the interchange integration: “what do we need?”, “what are our goals?”, “in what ways can we reach them?”, “what must the new interchange be?”, etc. – After initial design or architectural contests, to know the perception and reactions to a particular design. In this case it is integrated within the public participation required according to best practices and legal requirements: “is this proposal what we needed?”, “have our goals been satisfied?”, “can it be still improved?”, etc.

The consultation involves presenting the variants of the development being considered to the stakeholders (neighbours, traders, businesses, associations – e.g. for PRM). Following the comments made, an evaluation of the consultation is made. This evaluation allows the programme for the operation to be revealed. For the presentation to businesses, especially the largest, specific appointments can be organised with support from local economic institutions. People can be guided in this approach by an outside consultant specialised in consultation. For some projects, this consultation (compulsory at the start of the operation) can be pursued throughout the project to adapt it as necessary.

If the State considers it necessary, a public enquiry will be launched and will take at least one month. Through the Prefecture, the State appoints a commission of enquiry entrusted with giving a view as to the project’s utility and profitability (Declaration of Public Utility) since the land is expropriated through a socio-economic impact study following meetings with the stakeholders. The organising authority (Tisséo-SMTC) will draw up a declaration taking into account the commission’s remarks and on this basis (in the event of a favourable view from the commission) the project will be declared by the State to be of public utility. Works can then be commenced.

This procedure can take between 12 and 18 months. Blagnac Airport interchange: Examples of consultation and public enquiry documents relating to the Tisséo Envol tram line (FR): http://www.tisseo.fr/sites/default/files/Consultation_Publique_Envol.pdf http://www.tisseo.fr/sites/default/files/pdf/Page%20standard/Enquete_publique_%20Envol_Volume1.pdf http://www.tisseo.fr/sites/default/files/pdf/Page%20standard/Enquete_publique_%20Envol_Volume2.pdf http://www.tisseo.fr/sites/default/files/pdf/Page%20standard/Enquete_publique_%20Envol_Volume3.pdf

Coordination of urban and interurban public transport stakeholders at Thessaloniki Macedonia Intercity bus station http://ktelmacedonia.gr/en/home/

Interest groups such as the German Pro Bahn Passenger Association, Transport Focus in the UK http://www.transportfocus.org.uk/


Potential interchange performance improvement

The process of stakeholder consultation and the involvement of Passenger Associations in the process when public transport projects are discussed can be very beneficial for all of the parties involved. This is a necessary and useful tool for facilitating the implementation of transport infrastructure construction projects more generally, including transport interchanges.

According to the CIVITAS handbook “Involving Stakeholders: Toolkit on organising successful consultations”, there are many ways in which decision-makers and practitioners can benefit from this tool as:

– it improves the quality of decision-making, since those with a vested interest contribute from the initial stages; – it identifies controversial issues and difficulties before a decision is made; – it brings together different stakeholders with different opinions, enabling an agreement to be reached together and preventing opposition at a later stage, which can slow down the decision-making process; – it eliminates delays and reduces costs in the implementation phase; – it gives stakeholders a better understanding of the objectives of decisions and the issues surrounding them; – it creates a sense of ownership of decisions and measures, thus improving their acceptance; – it renders the decision-making process more democratic, giving citizens and local communities the power to influence decisions and, as a result, a greater sense of responsibility; – it builds local capacity; – it enhances public confidence in decision makers; and – it creates opportunities for stakeholders and decision-makers to learn from each other by exchanging information and experiences


Resources

The cost of designing and running the stakeholder consultation process is relatively low. The costs are related to the physical meetings with local stakeholders that should be held regularly in the project planning and implementation phase, or a public enquiry held with citizens.

References

CIVITAS handbook “Involving Stakeholders: Toolkit on organising successful consultations” –http://www.civitas.eu/sites/default/files/Results%20and%20Publications/Brochure_STAKEHOLDER_CONSULTATION_web.pdf

Citizens’Rail project http://www.citizensrail.org/

Thepta – http://ktelmacedonia.gr/en/home/

Tisseo – http://www.tisseo.fr/tisseo-lentreprise/page-standard/concertation-ligne-envol (FR)