Development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for sustainability assessment of microtransit systems

Buenk, Reinhart (2020-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Background: Mobility has always been essential to nearly every aspect of human existence. Due to the intrinsic aim of transport systems to improve our lives, it is unsurprising that transport development is rarely considered without also considering ‘sustainability’. Evidence however suggests that current modes of transport are unsustainable. An abundance of research has been conducted on identifying and addressing current real-world problems faced due to our current and traditional modes of transport. Although the sustainability of transport systems is seen as a significant challenge, it is essential to ensure that future generations have the same opportunities we do today without compromising on environmental, social and economic development. Need: Due to technological advancements in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the internet, and the sharing economy, alternative ‘smart mobility’ modes of transport like microtransit systems are emerging. Such solutions are regarded to have great potential to address several realworld problems and adverse effects of current modes of transport. Microtransit can be described as private vans/buses/small vehicles offering rides or freight transport along fixed or constantly changing routes operating as a more technology-enabled shuttle in a demand-responsive manner by utilising ICTs and the internet of things (IoT). It is however still in the developmental stage. Once microtransit systems have been fully deployed and integrated into current transport systems, decision-makers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders will require a carefully designed monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework towards assessing the system, which comes down to conducting sustainability evaluation and analysis of the transport system towards improving its sustainability performance. The framework could act as a management tool for decision support towards building realistic and profitable value propositions economically, socially and environmentally and will also enable the validation of decisions through continuous M&E. It could also assist microtransit and possibly also similar “smart mobility” businesses especially in penetrating public-sector verticals and securing funding since hard data is essential in proving real business cases. Method and Results: This research aims at developing such an M&E framework for microtransit systems concerning the degree towards which it contributes to sustainable development based on a systematic literature review. Following the development of a conceptual framework consisting of 12 areas of sustainability and 50 indicators, the framework is applied as a management tool to a microtransit company, Mellowcabs, as case study. Interview and survey results based on the framework allowed for determination of a sustainability index (SI) and the execution of importancesatisfaction analysis (ISA). From the analysis, top five over- and underperforming indicators were identified and an overall sustainability index of 7.78 was obtained which is considered a ‘satisfactory’ score. The generalisability of the framework to the wider context of ITS / “shared mobility” was also tested through a second case study application to GoMetro, a sustainability index of 8.62 obtained, and the validation thereof completed through final case study interviews. Conclusion: The original contribution of this study is a novel M&E framework designed specifically for microtransit systems’ sustainability assessment. The reproducable systematic approach developed and followed in this study allows for future development of similar needed frameworks, and also allows for easy adjustments like addition, modification, or removal of any elements as deemed necessary in future. While the validation process delivered positive responses and confirmed the efficiency, effectiveness, applicability, and validity of the tool, complete implementation of the tool on a microtransit system (once it has been fully deployed) could give rise to new issues that should be addressed in future. In the short term, results would assist in decision-making especially in the production-process. Its usefulness should also become apparent in the long-term as its overall goals are achieved through continuous monitoring and conducting regular evaluations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Mobiliteit is noodsaaklik vir byna elke aspek van die menslike bestaan. As gevolg van die inherente doel van vervoerstelsels om ons lewens te verbeter, is dit geen verrassing dat vervoerontwikkeling selde oorweeg word sonder om ook 'volhoubaarheid' in ag te neem nie. Bewyse dui egter daarop dat huidige vervoerwyses onvolhoubaar is. 'n Groot hoeveelheid navorsing is reeds gedoen om huidige regte-wêreld faktore te ondersoek wat te make mag hê met huidige en tradisionele vervoermiddele. Alhoewel die volhoubaarheid van vervoerstelsels as 'n beduidende uitdaging gesien word, is dit noodsaaklik om te verseker dat toekomstige generasies dieselfde geleenthede as wat ons tans geniet, sonder om omgewings-, sosiale en ekonomiese ontwikkeling in die gedrang te bring. Behoefte: As gevolg van tegnologiese vooruitgang in inligting- en kommunikasietegnologie (IKT), die internet en die deel-ekonomie word alternatiewe maniere om 'slim mobiliteit' soos mikrotransitostelsels ontwikkel. Sulke oplossings beskik oor die potensiaal om verskeie probleme in die wêreld aan te spreek soos nadelige gevolge van die huidige vervoersisteme. Microtransit kan beskryf word as privaat klein-bus voertuie wat ritte of vragvervoer aanbied op vaste of veranderlike roetes wat op 'n vraggerigte manier, 'n meer tegnologiese pendelbasis gebruik word deur gebruik te maak van IKT's en die internet van die dinge (IvD). Dit is egter nog in die ontwikkelingsfase. Sodra mikrotransitostelsels ten volle ontplooi en geïntegreer is in die huidige vervoerstelsels, sal besluitnemers, beleidmakers en ander belanghebbendes 'n sorgvuldig ontwerpte raamwerk vir monitering en evaluering (M&E) benodig vir die beoordeling van die stelsel, wat neerkom op die uitvoering van volhoubaarheidsevaluering en ontleding van die vervoerstelsel om volhoubaarheidsprestasie te verbeter. Die raamwerk kan dien as 'n instrument vir besluitnemingsondersteuning vir die opbou van realistiese en winsgewende ekonomies-, sosiaal- en omgewings-waardeproposisies en sal ook die bekragtiging van besluite deur middel van deurlopende M&E moontlik maak. Dit kan ook mikrotransit en moontlik ook soortgelyke "slim mobiliteit"- ondernemings help, veral met die penetrasie van vertikale in die openbare sektor en die verkryging van geld, aangesien harde data noodsaaklik is vir die bewys van besigheidsake. Metode en resultate: Hierdie navorsingstesis is gemik daarop om, op grond van 'n sistematiese literatuuroorsig, 'n M&E-raamwerk vir mikrotransitosisteme te ontwikkel rakende die mate waartoe dit bydra tot volhoubare ontwikkeling. Na die ontwikkeling van 'n konseptuele raamwerk bestaande uit 12 volhoubaarheidsareas en 50 indikatore, word die raamwerk as 'n gevallestudie as 'n bestuursinstrument op 'n mikrotransitonderneming, Mellowcabs, toegepas. Resultate van onderhoude en opnames gebaseer op die raamwerk dra by tot die bepaling van 'n volhoubaarheidsindeks (SI) en die uitvoering van 'n belangrikheidsbevrediging-analise (ISA). Uit die analise is die top vyf oor-en-onderpresterende indikatore geïdentifiseer en is 'n algehele volhoubaarheidsindeks van 7.78 verkry, wat as 'n 'bevredigende' telling beskou word. Die veralgemeenbaarheid van die raamwerk vir die wyer konteks van Intelligente Transitosisteme (ITS) / Gedeeldemobiliteit is ook getoets deur 'n tweede gevallestudie te voltooi, deur GoMetro, en 'n volhoubaarheidsindeks van 8.62 is behaal. Die validering van die raamwerk is voltooi deur middel van finale gevallestudieonderhoude. Gevolgtrekking: Die oorspronklike bydrae van hierdie studie is 'n nuwe M&E-raamwerk wat spesifiek ontwerp is vir die volhoubaarheidsbeoordeling van mikrotranitosisteme. Die herhaalbare sistematiese benadering wat in hierdie studie ontwikkel en gebruik is, maak voorsiening vir toekomstige ontwikkeling van soortgelyke benodigde raamwerke, en is ontwerp om maklik aanpasbaar te wees ten opsigte van byvoeging, wysiging of verwydering van enige elemente wat in die toekoms mag benodig word. Terwyl die valideringsproses positiewe reaksies gelewer het en die doeltreffendheid, toepaslikheid en geldigheid van die instrument bevestig het, kan die volledige implementering van die instrument op 'n mikrotransitostelsel (sodra dit ten volle ontplooi is) aanleiding gee tot nuwe probleme wat aandag moet vereis in die toekoms. Op die kort termyn sal resultate help met die besluitneming, veral in die produksieproses. Die bruikbaarheid daarvan moet ook op die langtermyn ondersoek word, aangesien die algemene doelwitte daarvan bereik word deur deurlopende monitering en gereelde evaluerings.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107771
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