Buses account for almost 90% of public transport in Brazil but suffer from congestion and declining ridership. To support cities and operators in the process of continuous quality improvement with a focus on customer satisfaction, WRI Brasil developed QualiÔnibus, a program composed of tools and forums that guide decision-makers and technicians on a path to transforming public bus operations.

QualiÔnibus is a portmanteau of the Portuguese words for “quality” and “bus.” Developed by WRI Brasil with financial and conceptual support from FedEx, the program aims to attract and retain customers of the public transport system, improve citywide mobility and make public transport more sustainable.

QualiÔnibus consists of five tools that enable public transport providers to create a virtuous cycle of benefits through continuous monitoring, improvement and assessment:

1. Benchmarking Group

Established in 2017, the Benchmarking Group is formed by Brazilian cities and agencies that want to adopt effective actions that improve the quality of public transport systems, as perceived by their customers. Today, the Benchmarking Group has 24 participants responsible for transporting more than 480 million passengers a month.

The group meets regularly and is responsible for collecting and reviewing quality indicators and customer satisfaction surveys. Regular meetings allow the group to recognize improvements, review experiences, discuss trending issues and identify best practices, making the search for solutions to new and common problems more effective.

The Benchmarking Group is supported by expert institutions such as the National Front of Mayors (FNP), the National Secretariat of Urban Mobility of the Ministry of Regional Development (SEMOB/MDR), the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP Brasil), the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), the Brazilian National Association of Urban Transport Operators (NTU). and the Brazilian National Association of Public Transport (ANTP).

2. Quality Indicators

Quality Indicators are similar to Key Performance Indicators in other contexts, but with a focus on quality. They allow operators to set and measure progress towards targets, chart their evolution of service quality, and understand impacts resulting from projects and changes in the transport system. The indicators have standardized methodologies and include all aspects related to the use, operation and management of public transport. The members of the Benchmarking Group collect the indicators periodically, which allows the comparison of results and the identification of good practices.

3. Satisfaction Survey

The Satisfaction Survey evaluates the satisfaction and perception of bus customers in a detailed and quantitative way, allowing an evaluation of how changes to Quality Indicators have impacted customer perception or behavior. This research allows customer priorities to be identified and brought into agency decision-making processes. The Satisfaction Survey has already been applied by 20 Brazilian cities and is the tool used by members of the Benchmarking Group, which allows for the comparison of results and the identification of good practices.

4. Day One of Operation

Day One of Operation is a program that helps cities have successful and impactful launches of new transport systems and services. A successful operational launch is fundamental for building public confidence in improved service. The program walks agencies through the necessary steps for preparing operational manuals and contingency procedures to anticipate and avoid common pitfalls.

5. Safety First

The Safety First program improves the operation of bus systems by providing resources to drivers and gathering data about crashes. The program has three complementary stages: driver training with a focus on road safety, creating opportunities for continuous professional development of drivers, and measuring impacts through collision monitoring.

What You Can Measure, You Can Manage

The five tools of the QualiÔnibus program allow for measurement of system quality and impact, but also the rapid sharing of good ideas that have led to better outcomes. This process is used to create a virtuous cycle of systematic improvement based on feedback from targeted improvements, best practices and consistent communication.

QualiÔnibus has led to improvements as simple as stickers to warn cyclists and pedestrians of bus blind spots and to more complex changes like improving bus stop design and managing drastic changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The system of quality metrics and continuous improvement has proven to be effective at improving quality of life for many.

For more details about the project, get in touch through qualionibus@wri.org.


Cover image credit: Mariana Gil/WRI Brasil