Passenger Focus’s Guide to Passenger Panels

08 March 2012

Passenger Focus is an independent public body set up to act as passenger watchdog: protecting the interests of passengers and working to get them the best deal. We place a strong emphasis on evidence based campaigning and work to understand passenger views and needs using qualitative and quantitative research and statistically robust analysis. As well as undertaking the National Passenger Survey (rail) and the Bus Passenger Survey, we commission various bespoke research projects to further understand the views of passengers. We also represent passenger interests in the rail and bus industry: working to get the best deal for passengers in areas such as industry planning and strategy. 1.2 Passenger Panels We are aware that both train and bus operating companies frequently wish to work directly with their passengers through passenger panels. Passenger panels can be an extremely useful tool as they provide feedback on services and generate ideas in terms of service improvement and possible new products. Panels can be a comparatively cheap source of customer feedback in that the running costs are limited to staff time, meeting costs and the incentives that the company uses to attract and retain panel members. These panels, however, vary in usefulness and their success can depend heavily on the way in which they are instigated and run. Helpful Hints: Advantages and disadvantages of Passenger Panels Panels offer a number of potential advantages: ? they can be relatively cheap to set up and administer ? they create relationships which enable two-way communication to continue over a period of time ? they can facilitate more informed feedback from passenger representatives who may be able to appreciate the wider context in which proposals for change are being put forward. However, they suffer from a number of potential disadvantages: ? panels only ever give you the views of a small number of passengers and their needs, experiences and opinions may not be typical ? it is therefore dangerous to rely on them on their own ? the views of panel members may become more out of touch with those of the majority of passengers the more they learn about bus operations and transport planning ? panels can easily run out of steam once the momentum of the first few

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