Jonathan Tyler of Passenger Transport Networks (based in York) became FIT’s first Fellow in 2019 to study the potential for Britain to adopt Switzerland’s timetable practices.
The Swiss system rests on the philosophy of securing a basic level of provision of public transport for all but the smallest of settlements. It plans timetables that enable people to travel between any pair of places using a connected chain of services, be they trains, buses, trams, steamers or mountain railways, and ensures the greatest possible regularity throughout the day and on every day of the week. Over time this has provided greater confidence in and use of public transport in Switzerland.
The British timetable system is entirely different. For rail it assembles requests from different operators into a working timetable. But this legally-structured process fails to yield efficient use of capacity, specifies financial objectives over public-interest and has no standards for quality or connectivity. For buses planning (outside London) is in the hands of uncoordinated private operators.
Jonathan has worked for the railway for 60 years – in a control office, as an enquiry clerk, traffic apprentice and assistant yard master, as a sponsored University lecturer and, most recently, as a consultant and advocate of the role of public transport in communal life.
He has consistently focussed on the importance of the timetable. From 1965 he developed the first econometric analysis to measure the commercial benefits of speed and frequency. Between 1999 and 2003 he led a government-academic-industry Foresight project to assess the impact on the demand for rail travel of regular-pattern, integrated timetables using the Swiss template.
Since then he has deployed Swiss timetable-planning software in case studies of potential applications in Britain. His advocacy is known through papers, articles, lectures, workshops and submissions to inquiries and has been encouraged by the Embassy of Switzerland in London.