RT 40 – Richard Anderson – International Transit Benchmarking Research at Imperial College London

RT 40 – Richard Anderson – International Transit Benchmarking Research at Imperial College London

Researching Transit – Episode 40

Published: February 2023

Keywords: Public transport, benchmarking, railways, buses, network management

This episode comes to you from Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, where Prof Graham Currie recently met with Richard Anderson. Richard is the Managing Director of the Applied Research group within the Transport Strategy Centre (TSC) at Imperial’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He leads the group’s industry facing work on benchmarking across metro, heavy rail, light rail, bus and airport systems, with Associate Directors Alexander Barron, Ben Condry and Mark Trompet.

Graham and Richard discuss the group’s 28 year long programme comparing and analysing the performance of transit systems from around the world. They discuss how context is especially important in benchmarking, because of the large variation in operating conditions. To understand fare-box revenue, operating costs or other characteristics on one system there is a need to compare with analogous systems that have similar contexts.

As well as annual network benchmarking at the strategic planning level, the TSC has also undertaken comparisons on more tactical issues. Richard discusses an example of work that was done to benchmark the London Underground’s procurement policies for escalators. By understanding the escalator specifications used by other metro systems of similar age and context to London, TSC found that the Underground could shift away from ordering bespoke escalators to a more generic heavy duty model, saving 100s of millions of pounds in procurement costs.

Towards the end of the episode, Graham and Richard discuss recent work that TSC has done in response to COVID-19. The structure of the benchmarking groups, as a coalition of member organisations, has allowed rapid knowledge-sharing about COVID-19 responses amongst operators. TSC’s history of benchmarking on specific topics has also meant that member organisations already had access to learnings from SARS pandemic in the early 2000s, and comparisons of the effectiveness of the various responses by different transit operators (e.g. Hong Kong, Canada).

Find out more about Richard and his work at:


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Music from this episode is from https://www.purple-planet.com

  • Date February 26, 2023
  • Tags Podcast